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jiraka - Cuminum cyminum Linn.

jiraka :

jiraka  : Cuminum cyminum Linn. Svetajiraka consists of ripe fruits of Cuminum cyminum, Linn. (Fam.Umbelliferae), a glabrous, annual herb, 30-90 cm hight, flowers very small, white, about 38 mm long stalk in compound umbels, mostly cultivated in plains, plants pulled out, dried thrashed for collecting mature fruits.


Cumin has been in use since ancient times. Seeds, excavated at the Syrian site Tell ed-Der, have been dated to the second millennium B.C.E. They have also been reported from several New Kingdom levels of ancient Egyptian archaeological sites (Zohary and Hopf 2000).

Originally cultivated in Iran and the Mediterranean region, cumin is mentioned in the Bible in both the Old Testament (Isaiah 28:27) and the New Testament (Matthew 23:23). It was also known in ancient Greece and Rome. The Greeks kept cumin at the dining table in its own container (much as pepper is frequently kept today), and this practice continues in Morocco. Cumin fell out of favor in Europe except in Spain and Malta during the Middle Ages. It was introduced to the Americas by Spanish colonists.

Since returned to favour in parts of Europe, today it is mostly grown in Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, India, Syria, Mexico, and Chile.

Taxonomical Classification

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Streptophyta
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Family: Umbelliferae
Genus: Cuminum
Species: Cuminum cyminum

Allied species:

-Cumin (Cuminum cyminum L.) is a diploid species with 14 chromosomes (i.e. 2n = 14).


Sanskrit: jirak, jaran, dirghajirak, ajaji, kanavha, kanajirna, dipya, sitajaji, shuklajaji, dirghak
English: cumin , Cumin seed.
Hindi: Safed jeera, jeera
Urdu: Zirah, Zirasafed
Telugu: Jeelakari , Jilakarra, Tella Jilakarra
Bengali: Jeera , Jira, Sadajira
Marathi: Jire , Pandhare jire
Konkani: jeera
Oriya: Dhalajeera, Dalajira, Jira
Gujarathi: Jeeru Jirautmi, Jirn, Jiraugi, Jeeru, Jirun
Tamil: Cheerakam , Sheeragam, Chirakam, Jeerakam
Malayalam: Jeerekam
Kannada: Jeerige , Jirage, Bilejirege
Punjabi: Safed Jira, Chitta Jira
Arabic: kammun, avyaja
Spanish: Comino
Assamese: Jira
Japanese: -Hime unikyoo, Kumin
Chinese: -Ou shi luo, Ma qin (Ma chin), Xian hao, Xiang han qin, Zi ran
French: Cumin, Cumin de Malte, Cumin blanc, Cumin du Maroc, Faux anis;
German: -Kreuzkümmel, Römischer Kümmel, Weißer Kreuzkümmel;
Persian: Zireh-Sabz or Cravieh
Sinhalese: Cheeregum, jeera, su(du)duru
Greek: - Kimino, Kiminon;


According to sushrutha                             :            shukla & Peeta

According to Dhanvantari nighantu       :           Jiraka ( Ajaji), Shukla jiraka, Krishna jiraka, Vanya jirah

According to Shodala nighantu               :          Upakunchika, Shukla jiraka, Krishna jiraka

According to Kaiyadeva nighantu           :          Shukla jiraka, Krishna jiraka, Kaali kaakaa

According to madanapala nighantu       :         Shwetha, Upakunchika, Shyaama


जीरको जरणोऽजाजी कणा स्याद्दीर्घजीरकः | 
कृष्णजीरः सुगन्धश्च तथैवोद्गारशोधनः ||७३|| 
कालाजाजी तु सुषवी कालिका चोपकालिका | 
पृथ्वीका कारवी पृथ्वी पृथुकृष्णोपकुञ्चिका | 
उपकुञ्ची च कुञ्ची च बृहज्जीरक इत्यपि ||७४|| 
जीरकत्रितयं रूक्षं कटूष्णं दीपनं लघु | 
संग्राही पित्तलं मेध्यं गर्भाशयविशुद्धिकृत् ||७५|| 
ज्वरघ्नं पाचनं वृष्यं बल्यं रुच्यं कफापहम् | 
चक्षुष्यं पवनाध्मानगुल्मच्छर्द्यतिसारहृत् ||७६|| 


Synonyms in Ayurveda: jirak, jaran, dirghajirak, ajaji, kanavha, kanajirna, dipya, sitajaji, shuklajaji, dirghak

Jiraka – that which helps in digestion.
Ajaji  – its nature is to improve the appetite.
Jarana – provides good digestion.
Kana – it has many minute parts.
Peethabam – fruits are yellowish.
Ruchya – improves taste in the mouth.
Medhyam – good tonic for brain.
Dipyaka – the fruits are longish shape.
Rasa: Katu
Guna: Laghu Ruksha
Veerya: Ushna
Vipaka: Katu
Karma: Kaphahara Vatahara Vedanasthapaka

Āyurveda and Siddha regard jeeraka as having a bitter taste with a hot property, capable of removing vāta and kapha doṣas but causing pitta. It is dry, astringent, appetising, digestive, strengthening, light for digestion, good for the eyes and an aphrodisiac. It is used in the treatment of indigestion, dysentery, enlarged spleen, flatulence and vomiting.


Cultivation of cumin requires a long, hot summer of three to four months, with daytime temperatures around 30°C (86°F); it is drought tolerant, and is mostly grown in Mediterranean climates. It is grown from seed sown in spring, and needs a fertile, well-drained soil. 


It is grown from seed sown in spring and needs a fertile, well drained soil.


 A sandy soil is best, when the seedlings have hardened, transparent carefully to a sunny aspect, planting out 15 cm apart seed regularly.


  • SEED     :  Cuminin
  • Diacyl glycerol
  • Imperatorin
  • Isoimperatorin
  • Isoimpinellin
  • Oxypeucedanin
  • Apigenin
  • Apiin
  • Oxalic
  • Cuminaldihyde
  • P – cymene
  • FRUIT   :  Fatty oil
  • Resin
  • Mucilage
  • Protein compounds



1. Hingvadi churna
2. Jirakadyarishta
3. Jirakadimodaka
4. Hinguvacadi curna
5.jiraka taila

6. Jirakadya churna


Parts used for medicinal purpose

Fruit, Seed, ,


seed powder- 3-6 gm


One of the antidotes for excessive cumin is nutmeg. It is particularly effective at distracting from the flavor. Of course, nutmeg may not be a good complement to all dishes. Another way to accomplish the same thing is to use cinnamon, which works particularly well in chili. Cinnamon adds a sweetness that distracts from cumin’s bitterness.


ground coriander


 Cumin Seed - Adulteration with Sand and Grit

Commercial value:

Cumin is well known as an ingredient of curry powder, and also is a critical ingredient of chili powder. It is found in achiote blends, adobos, sofrito, garam masala, and bahaarat. Cumin can be found in some Dutch cheeses like Leyden cheese, and in some traditional breads from France. It is also commonly used in traditional Brazilian cuisine. Cumin is one of the ingredients in the spice mix berbere.


Fruit, a cremocarp, often separated into mericarps, brown with light coloured ridges ellipsoidal, elongated,

about 4-6 mm long, 2 mm wide, tapering at ends and slightly compressed laterally,

mericarps with 5 longitudinal hairy primary ridges from base to apex, alternating with  secondary ridges which are flatter and bear conspicuous emergences,

seeds orthospermous, odour umbelliferous characteristic, taste, richly spicy.



Transverse section of fruit shows epidermis consisting of

·         short polygonal, tabular cells densely covered with short, bristle hairs on ridges,

·         mesocarp with few layers of parenchyma and five vascular bundles under five primary ridges, six vittae under secondary ridges, four on dorsal and two on commissural surface,

·         endocarp consists of polygonal cells containing fixed oil and aleurone grains carpophore consists of slender fibres.

Geographical distribution:

Cumin is native to the Mediterranean region. It was originally cultivated in Iran and the Mediterranean region. In India it is cultivated in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.


-Cumin seed quality is significantly influenced by agro ecological conditions of growing areas. Relative presence of terpinene or aldehyde in cumin essential oil greatly influenced by environmental stresses. 

Plant conservation:

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state.

General Use:

  • It helps in enhancing appetite and helps in digestion.
  • It is very useful in vomiting and nausea.
  • It is also useful in treatment of piles, leucorrhea, and skin diseases.
  • It also acts as natural aphrodisiac that increases the libido and sperm count in males.
  • It is very good for eyes.
  • it is very useful in the treatment of fever (Jirna Jawar or Chronic Fever)
  • It gives Stamina and strength.
  • It also promotes lactation in mothers.
  • It is also good for heart and prevents heart related diseases.
  • It is very much useful in diarrhea, bloating, flatulence.
  • It is helpful in diabetes also.
  • It plays a good role in improving immunological strength.
  • It stimulates the taste buds and promotes salivary secretion.
  • It is a very good natural antioxidant.
  • It is useful in the treatment of respiratory diseases like tuberculosis.
  • It reduces the cholesterol level and helps in weight loss.

Therapeutic Uses:

ruchya, kturasyukt, agnideepak, deepan, javarnashak, pachak, vrushya, balkarak, pittkark, kaphnashak, Garbhashaya Vishuddhikrut, Chakshushya, Grahi, Sangrahi. Jeerak is pungent in taste and hot in nature. It is Kaphavatahara in nature that helps to balance the kapha and vata doshas.

Systemic Use:

Amla pitta  – Ghee prepared with jiraka & dhanyaka is useful.(Chakradatta)

Chardi    – Souvarchala lavana, jiraka ,sharkara & maricha are mixed with honey & given as anti – emetic.(vranda madhava)

Vishama jvara – jiraka powder should be given with jaggery. ( A.S.Chi 2/93)


seeds, powder


The volatile oil has immune – stimulatory effect on infections.

The seeds have aphrodisiac properties.

Clinical trials:

  1. Effect of the cumin cyminum L. Intake on Weight Loss, Metabolic Profiles and Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress in Overweight Subjects: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial
  2. The pharmacological activities of Cuminum cyminum - A review Prof Dr Ali Esmail Al-Snafi


Alcoholic extract of seeds at 150 mg/kg showed 100% anti-fertility effect in early  pregnancy in female rats.

  • (Ind. J. Med. Res 1976, 64, 1133)

Seeds significantly decreased incidence of both bengo (a) pyrene – induced neoplasia  in swiss mice and hepatomas in wistar rats.

  • (Food chem. Toxicol. 1992, 30,953)


Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking cumin if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Bleeding disorders. Cumin might slow blood clotting. In theory, cumin might make bleeding disorders worse.

Diabetes. Cumin might lower blood sugar levels in some people. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use cumin.

Surgery: Cumin might lower blood sugar levels. Some experts worry that it might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop using cumin at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Toxicity studies:

Cumin is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in food amounts and POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth in appropriate medicinal amounts. The side effects of cumin are not known.

Use in other system of medicine:

A fine paste of cumin seeds with water applied on boils or aching body parts gives relief from pain.

Water boiled with ground jeera has to be given regularly to lactating mothers, this increases breast milk and reduces inflammation of uterus.

Roast jeera without oil till it warm, grind this to a fine powder along with rock salt and massage gums with this powder this help to prevent bleeding from gums & strengthens them.

A tea prepared by boiling and a small piece of fresh ginger help to give relief in common cold.

Patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome can use pomegranate juice mixed with roasted and ground jeera powder this helps to reduce frequency of stools and sooths colon.

Yunani regards it as hot, carminative, digestive and astringent. It is employed in kapha diseases, menstrual disturbances and hiccups.


The English ‘cumin’ derives from the Old English ‘cymen‘ (or Old French ‘cumin’), from Latin ‘cuminum’ which is the romanisation of the Greek ‘‘κύμινον’ (kuminon), cognate with Hebrew kammon, Arabic kammun. Forms of this word are attested in several ancient Semitic languages, including kamûnu in Akkadian. The ultimate source is the Sumerian word gamun. The earliest attested form of the word κύμινον (kuminon) is the Mycenaean Greek ku-mi-no, written in Linear B syllabic script.
The fruits are used for many purposes — in the kitchen for seasoning in soups and curries, cakes, bread, cheese, pickles and are also often candied. Its oil is used in perfumery and in flavouring beverages.

Ayurvedic Formulations:

Common Ayurvedic Formulations of jiraka with their Indications

Vilwadi Lehyam
Ashwagandhadi Lehyam

KEY WORDS: jiraka , Cuminum cyminum Linn. , sveta jiraka

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