People across the world use cumin as a seasoning in food and extract its oil for perfumes. It’s also a popular remedy in traditional medicine—and for good reason. Cumin packs a lot of health benefits into a few tiny seeds.
For generations, people have used cumin to treat conditions ranging from indigestion and diarrhea to headaches. People in India have used it to treat kidney and bladder stones, eye disease, and even leprosy.
Now, scientific research is finding evidence that backs up many of these traditional uses.
Research has shown that cumin may help kill some bacteria that can get into your body and make you sick. In the lab, cumin has been shown to limit the growth of microorganisms, including E. coli—a bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Its antibacterial properties might explain why people have traditionally used cumin as a preservative.
Cancer develops when cells in the body start to multiply out of control. Tumors are collections of these abnormal cells. In several animal studies, scientists have found that cumin seeds may prevent the growth of different kinds of tumors, including those caused by liver, stomach, and colon cancers. More studies are needed to determine if cumin can help prevent cancer in humans.