Carom seeds or bishop’s weed also known as ajwain is a common herb found in Indian households and is well known for properties that make it one of the most used home remedies. But other than being a good digestive aid, it has a number of other health benefits which are not known to common people.
A valuable Ayurvedic ingredient Ajwain or bishop's weed is cultivated in black soil particularly along the riverbank throughout India and also Iran, Egypt and Afghanistan. It is a small, erect, annual shrub with soft fine hairs. It has many branches of leafy stems, small feather like leaves, and 4 to 12 rays of flower heads, each bearing 6 to 16 flowers. The fruits are minute, egg shaped and grayish.
Common name • Bengali: জোয়ান Jowan • Gujarati: યવણો Yavano • Hindi: अजवाइन, अजवायन Ajwain • Kannada: ajamoola, oma, omu, ajamoda • Marathi: ओवा Ova • Nepali: जवानो Javano • Sanskrit: अजमोद Ajamoda, अजमोदिका Ajamodika, dipyaka,• Tamil: ஓமம் Omam • Telugu: omaan, vamu • Urdu: अजवाइन Ajwain
Botanical name: Trachyspermum ammi Family: Apiaceae (Carrot family)
English names: Bishop's Weed, Carom Seeds, Thymol Seeds
According to ayurveda…
Ajwain is an indigenous spice used in ayurveda from ancient times. Ajwain, sometimes called ajowan, is a commonly used ayurvedic spice. Ajwain is a popular spice throughout India. It used in savory snacks like Farsan. Ajwain seeds are found in most Indian households due to their medicinal properties. Ajwain is considered to be an effective medicine for treating indigestion.
During ancient times ayurvedic physicians used ajwain in many ailments like colds, flu, water retention, poor digestion, fevers, various types of arthritis, liver and spleen ailments. It promotes kidney function, energizes the nerves, is a powerful decongestant for both the digestive and respiratory tract, clearing out deep-seated ama (toxins), reviving stagnant metabolic functioning, relieving intestinal spasms, vitalizing Prana, samana & udana, It is often used in weight-reducing formulas.
Ajwain seeds or bishop's weed is an effective ingredient in preparing many ayurvedic and unani medicines. It helps in curing the disorders such as ulcers, ringworm, itching, stomach worm, bile, menstrual and post-natal disorders, leucorrhoea, female infertility, pimples, kidney stones and many more, and also useful as an aphrodisiac.
Ajwain is pungent and hot, stomachic, bitter, spasmodic, germicidal, antiseptic, appetizer, digestive, aphrodisiac, anthelmintic, carminative, diuretic, diaphoretic, laxative , antipyretic, expectorant and an extra ordinary stomach tonic. It is counted among the 10 foremost herbs known for their anti-colic or anti-spasmodic action.
Rasa: Katu, Tikta
Guna: Laghu, Ruksha, Tikshna
Karma: Sulahara, Anulomana, Dipana, Krmighna, Pacana, Rucya
Dosha effect: Pacifies the Vata and Kapha, may increase Pitta( if taken in excess)
Dhatu effect (tissues): Plasma, marrow, nerves
The main chemical constituents of the seeds of the herb are 21.8% fat, 21.2% fibre, and 24.6% carbohydrates per 100 grams of the seeds. The main minerals in the seeds are calcium, phosphorus and iron, while its major vitamins are carotene, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. When crushed, the seeds yield an essential oil, 50% of which consists of thymol, a well-known antiseptic compound.
Selection and storage
Ajwain is readily available in spice stores specialized in Indian or Middle-Eastern items. In general, whole ajwain seeds displayed for sale unlike in other spices such as dill, cumin, coriander, etc. Buy fresh, wholesome, compact seeds that give rich thyme like flavor when rubbed between fingers. Dried Ajmoda is best purchased in small amounts and regularly, as it loses its color and flavor rapidly when sitting on a supermarket shelf. Look for deep-green 'flakes' that are free from pieces of stalk and yellow leaves.
Once at home, store the seeds in an airtight container and place in cool dark place away from sunlight, and humidity. Generally, ajowain seeds should be used as early as possible since they lose flavor rather quickly, largely because of evaporation of essential oils.
Ajwain seeds mainly feature in savory Indian, Pakistani, and Middle-Eastern cooking. In order to keep the fragrance and flavor intact, ajowan seeds are generally crushed just before preparing dishes and added to the cooking recipes at final stages. This is because prolonged cooking results in evaporation of essential oils. They are quite peppery when raw, but milder when cooked.
Tadka or Tempering is a cooking method in which cooking oil is heated till very hot and whole spices are added to it and fried. This oil and spice mix is then added as a final touch or garnish to the dish. In Indian cooking, Ajwain is often part of (panchphoran) the Tadka in a dish. This is because of its strong, dominant flavor. Ajwain is also used in vegetable dishes (for its distinctive taste) and pickles (for its preservative qualities). Ajwain has properties that help it reduce the flatulence causing effect of beans. It also aids in digestion.
In Punjab province of India and Pakistan, the spice seeds particularly added to make bread known as ajwain paratha. Some Indian vegetarian bean/lentil and chicken/fish curries contain this spice and in the Middle East, it is used to flavor meat and rice dishes.
Ajwain is commonly added to deep-fried foods, such as fritters, in Indian cooking, to help ease of digestion. A pinch added to buttermilk or digestive lassi can promote digestion if taken after lunch. Add a pinch to rice as it is cooking, for aroma and flavor. Ajwain can be combined with other spices such as turmeric, paprika, cumin, black pepper, fennel and coriander.
The seeds used generously as condiment in snacks, spicy biscuits, to flavor drinks, soups, sauces in India.Due to its multiple benefits it is the part and parcel of every Indian kitchen.
Since ajwain seeds induce gut secretions, they may exacerbate existing stomach ulcer/ulcer bleeding conditions.In addition, recipes prepared using this spice may be avoided in individuals with liver diseases, ulcerative colitis etc.
Since it’s hot in potency it should be limitedly used in hot climates and can be freely used in cold climates.
Ajwain is packed with thymol. In fact it’s the only plant in the world with the highest amount of thymol. This chemical is very effective in helping the stomach release gastric juices that speed up digestion. It is known to help in cases of indigestion, flatulence, nausea and relieve colicky pain in babies.
As a carminative, it relieves intestinal gas, pain & distention, & promotes peristalsis.For relieving flatulence, dyspepsia and spasmodic disorders; the seeds may be eaten with betel leaves. A teaspoon of ajwain with a little rock salt is a household remedy for indigestion. Ajwain oil given in doses of 1 to 3 drops is useful in cholera, flatulent, colic, diarrhea, a tonic dyspepsia and indigestion. Ajwain water is given in doses of 30 to 60 grams to check vomiting in early stages of cholera.
Tip: Boil a teaspoon of the seeds in a cup of water till it is reduced to half, strain and drink this water for instant relief.
Improves digestion when you’re pregnant or lactating
Due to its great anti-inflammatory and curative properties, ajwain is great for pregnant and lactating mothers. It helps to improve digestion, ward off constipation due to pregnancy and strengthens the muscles that make up the floor of the uterus. After pregnancy ajwain is known to heal the woman’s body internally, reduce inflammation and helps maintain good circulation. In some cultures it is also believed to improve the production of milk in lactating mothers. It helps to cleanse the uterus & benefit digestion during pregnancy; it is prescribed, and beneficial for post-delivery fever.
During pregnancy, Ajwain is given with gud (Jaggery) in order to treat lumbago (Kamar dard). According to the healers, the use of Ajwain with gud, not only cures the lumbago but also purifies the blood and act as tonic.
Tip: It is important that mothers-to-be do not eat too much of this seed. The seed is known to increase the heat causing pitta levels in the body and can cause problems with the pregnancy.
In an acute attack of common cold or migraine headache, put Ajwain powder in a thin cloth and smell this frequently. It gives tremendous symptomatic relief.
If you have chronic bronchitis and asthma, take the mixture of Ajwain and jaggery, heat it to make a paste and take 2 teaspoonfuls twice a day. However, diabetics should not take this preparation because of the sugar content. It helps to bring out the mucus easily and alleviates chronic bronchitis and asthma to great extent. It also helps in getting relief from chronic cold.
Another quick method is to tie it in a soft cloth and heat the bundle over a warm tawa. Apply this warm bundle over the chest to relieve congestion immediately.
Taking one-teaspoon ajwain with hot water morning and evening lesson sputum in bronchitis and asthama cases.
Ajwain is very effective in curing cough. One can drink hot water after chewing little Ajwain to cure cough. You can chew betel leaf with Ajwain at night before sleeping to control and cure dry cough.
For nasal congestion
A tablespoon of crushed Ajwain tied up in a small cloth bundle can be used for inhalation. It also relieves nasal congestion while sleeping when placed near the pillow.
A person suffering from influenza should drink the boiled water with 3gms of Ajwain and 3gms of Cinnamon bark for 3 days, thrice a day. This helps in curing influenza to a great extent.
Rheumatic and arthritic pain
Rheumatic and arthritic pain
Due to its anti-inflammatory and anaesthetic properties, ajwain is a good way to get rid of pain due to rheumatism and arthritis. Try soaking your aching joints in a pan of warm water with a few seeds of ajwain. Alternatively you could crush the seed and apply the paste on the affected area for instant relief.
The oil extracted from seeds is beneficial in the treatment of rheumatic and neuralgic pains. It should be applied on the affected parts.They are an excellent pain-killer and act as an anodyne, soothing, calming, comforting and diminishing pain due to presence of thymol.
Care should be taken while applying oil directly to sensitive skin. Dilute ajwain seed oil with some base oil (sesame or coconut oil).
An infusion of seeds mixed with common salt is an effective gargle to cure pharyngitis, sore and congested throat and hoarseness of the voice due to colds or shouting.
Due to its antiseptic properties ajwain mixed with garlic and sesame oil provides instant relief from earache.
Ajwain is a great aphrodisiac. Mixing ajwain with the seeds of tamrind, honey, ghee and milk is a great way to increase vitality. Having the mixture every day helps improve vitality and libido. Soaking the seeds in lemon juice and drying them seven times will cure impotence when ingested
Keeps the heart healthy
Due to the presence of niacin and thymol along with other vitamins, ajwain is very good in maintaining heart health. It has properties that improve nerve impulses and overall circulation within the heart. Tip: Have ajwain boiled in hot water on an empty stomach regularly to keep heart disease at bay.
As mentioned earlier, ajwain has properties that help reduce inflammation and soothes irritated nerves. Because of this, it is a great remedy to stop hiccups instantly. Have a few raw ajwain seeds with a few sips of warm water and watch your hiccups vanish instantly.
Remedy for acidity
Since it helps improve digestion, ajwain also helps in relieving acidity. Mix one teaspoon of ajwain with one teaspoon of jeera (cumin) and boil them in a glass of water. The solution should have a golden colour. Drink this whenever there is an attack of acidity for instant relief.
Relieves pain due to migraines
Sniffing the fumes of ajwain or applying its paste on the head helps to obtain relief from migraine and delirium. When the seed is burned or crushed into a poultice, it releases its essential oils high in thymol content.
Give smoke to the aching tooth by burning ajwain seeds after two hour do gargle with lukewarm water (prepared by boiling 1 tsp. ground ajwain with little salt) two to three times a day, it cures tooth pain. It is used in Ayurvedic tooth powders.
They are an excellent pain-killer and act as an anodyne, soothing, calming, comforting and diminishing pain. They contain the essential oil thymol, which acts very quickly on the system.
Fights body odour
Instead of using chemical deodorants to mask body odor, ajwan tea will cure the cause of the odor from the inside out by destroying bad bacteria.
Ajwain leaves seem to prevent formation of kidney stones. In kidney stone removal home- made herbal remedy of Ajwain works well. Patients are to intake Ajwain seeds with honey or vinegar for a week regularly, this medicine helps to remove stone through urine flow. As a diuretic, it promotes the activity of kidney & bladder & increase urination, and as a lithotripter, it dissolves & discharges gall bladder & urinary stones & gravel.
If people who consume excessive alcohol develop discomfort in the stomach, taking Ajwain twice a day, will be very useful. It will also reduce the craving and desire for alcohol.
Venomous insect bite
In traditional Vedic medicine, paste of ajwain seeds is mentioned as a remedy for venomous insect bite such as scorpion bite, as it has pain killing properties.
Drink half glass of water with soaked carom seeds on an empty stomach. This will dissolve the fats. Consume 1tsp of carom seeds on an empty stomach every morning. This remedy needs to be continued for 3-4 months consistently for notable result.
Carom seeds soaked in water and consumed daily can be useful in treating paralysis, trembling and shaking.
Take 50 grams black sesame, 25 grams carom seeds and 100 grams of jaggery. Mix them well. Consume this mixture 1tsp twice a day. This will help in treating frequent urination and bedwetting especially in kids.
Consume 1 gram of carom seeds with 3 grams of jaggery. This is a useful remedy to cure this.
Dry roast one teaspoon of ajwain seeds and cumin seeds. Add to it one cup of water and bring it to boil and strain it. Add some sugar and take one teaspoon as a remedy for indigestion and acidity
Products derived from ajmoda…
Ajmoda ark/owa water
Ajwain water that is the water distilled from the ajwain seeds in an excellent carminative that cures flatulence, indigestion & low appetite.
Ajwain seeds, when crushed and put through the process of Steam distillation, yield essential oil with high medicinal value because it contains Thymol. This oil has long been believed to be the principal source of Thymol.
Method to make Ajwain tea
Water 1 cup
Milk 1 cup
Cumin ¼ tsp
Sugar 2 tsp
Ajwain 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon 1 pinch
Take 1 cup of water. Add ajwain, cumin and cinnamon. Bring to a boil.
Then add milk and sugar. Bring to a boil and let simmer till the desired color is obtained.
Cover for a minute.
Strain & serve.
Consumption of carom seeds tea can help in cleansing body toxins. Thus, this can reduce many skin and health related problems. This helps to purify blood and improve the blood flow in body.
Useful in alleviating colds and cough. Aids digestion and stimulates metabolism.
Mix mustard oil with ground carom seeds. Dip cardboard pieces in this mixture and tie in the corners of your room. This will help you get rid of the mosquitoes from the room.
Facts about carom seeds:
Keep them away from humidity and also from direct sunlight.
Carom seeds cannot be stored for a long time.
Avoid over consumption. It can lead to nausea, vomiting, skin irritation, allergy and headache in some people.
Proper intake doesn't have any side effects.
Store them in air-tight bottle in a cool and dry place.