The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869    



Description:  Natural Order, Umbelliferae. Cummin is a native of Egypt, but now cultivated largely throughout Western Asia and Southern Europe. It is quite a small annual, from six to twelve inches high, with slender branches, and numerous leaves cut into narrow segments. Flowers very small and white, hidden in the bracts. Fruit a small, tapering silicle, rough, flat, furrowed, light-brownish, ridged. These seeds contain quite a large percentage of essential oil, which is of a yellow tint, and a peculiar heavy and not always agreeable smell. The seeds have the same strong aroma, and a bitterish-warm taste.

Properties and Uses: The seeds have been used from the earliest ages, as medicine and perfume. They are strongly stimulant and biting, and quite permanent for an aromatic. They are employed for the same general purposes as the dill seeds; but are not at all so pleasant as the dill, and at this time are rarely used. It is asserted of old, that cummin added to wine to form a cordial, caused livid paleness; and Horace and Juvenal both allude to this as a fact current among bacchanalians. Probably it is well that the article has been superseded by pleasanter and less suspicious aromatics.

 Medical Herbalism journal and