I love cumin! I probably use it more often than any other spice in my cabinet, after salt. Looking through my herb pantry, you’ll find both ground cumin and cumin seeds. It’s fresher if you grind it yourself,  but I don’t always have time for that. Or maybe I’m just too lazy.

Cumin is an ingredient in curry powder and garam masala, and is found in Indian, Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods. Cumin is also in many southwestern and Mexican dishes. During the Middle Ages, it was one of the most popular spices grown and used in Europe as well.

Although you might only think of cumin as a culinary spice, it has been used medicianlly over the ages by herbalists. It is mentionned in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and in the works of Hippocrates, Dioscorides and Pliny. 

Even today, cumin is considered an excellent carminative spice (relieving flatulence or gas). It’s often used by natural vetenarians for this purpose. Who wants to ride a gassy horse during a jumping competition? Maybe that’s why cumin is often combined with beans! Cumin is believed to help with other digestive issues like bowel spasms and cramps, diarrhea and colic. 

Cumin is a diuretic, benefits heart health, and is an old folk remedy to support a healthy uterus and increase breast milk production after childbirth. 

The seeds have high levels of phytochemicals, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, although most people don’t eat large enough amounts to make a difference. It is possible to take powdered cumin in capsules, but I prefer to add generous amounts to my food and enjoy it that way! There are no known side effects or proven contraindications.

Cumin is a spice you will see frequently in my recipes, usually in combination with other warming spices like chili powder, coriander, ginger and pepper. Want to try it? Make my Super Bowl Chili and see what you think. Check out the recipe here.

Bobbi Mullins, February 2015


Grieve, M. A Modern Herbal. 1971. New York: Dover Publications

Tierra, M. The Way of Herbs. 1980. New York.

© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™