Updated: Oct 24, 2020

It’s hard to imagine a single savory Ayurvedic dish that doesn’t have cumin in it. Cumin is a powerful ally to call upon for digestive health. It is no coincidence that one of the many synonyms for this pervasive Ayurvedic spice is jarana, or “that which brings about digestion.” A teacher I studied with once put it so aptly when she shared, “Cumin is like a matchstick that ignites fire in your body in case your internal stovetop isn’t working.”

This pungent, heating herb can help you digest any savory food. Its taste is subtle enough that you can add cumin powder to dishes ranging from Italian pastas to pizza, fajitas, or fried rice. And, unlike other heating herbs, which are best restricted to winter and spring, you can use cumin any time of the year.

Cumin is an excellent spice to use

anytime you need an appetite boost. Roasting cumin seeds on a dry skillet until they become slightly darker, but not black, adds more dryness and heat, which helps increase cumin’s potency to crank up your digestion. Just the fragrant smell of freshly roasted cumin seeds is enough to immediately ignite my appetite.

To combat nausea, simply sprinkle some cumin seeds or powder onto a lemon slice and lick it sporadically for quick relief. For diarrhea, drink warm water mixed with 1 teaspoon of cumin powder.

For women with menstrual spotting, irregular cycles, or clotting, this spice is your friend. Cumin also reduces inflammation, helps prevent problems like endometriosis, and is extremely beneficial for post-pregnancy women. It’s an excellent spice for healthy breast milk. The key to receiving all of these benefits is to increase the quantity of cumin you consume.

Ways to use it:

  • Cook with cumin seeds

  • Make a tea out of it: simply boil water with roasted cumin powder in it, and then drink this concoction

  • Use cumin seeds as a table spice: roast cumin seeds, grind them into a powder in a magic bullet or with a mortar and pestle and sprinkle on your food to boost digestion

You can order organic cumin seeds and/or organic cumin powder to try out their magic for yourself!


ANANTA RIPA AJMERA is founder and CEO of The Ancient Way and Director of Ayurveda at THE WELL, a modern wellness club that brings together world-class doctors and master healers for a more balanced you. She is author of The Ayurveda Way, a compilation of 108 simple, doable practices for better sleep, less stress, optimal digestion and more.


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