Cumin. (From to bring forth; because it is said to be efficacious in curing sterility.) It is also called cyminum and faeniculum orientate. It is the cuminum cyminum Lin. Sp. Pi. 365.
This plant resembles fennel, but is much smaller; produces longish, slender, plano-convex seeds, of a brownish colour, with yellowish striae; is annual; a native of Egypt and Ethiopia. It is cultivated in Sicily and Malta, from whence it is brought to us, chiefly for 3 X its fruit, which has an aromatic, sharp, and slightly bitter flavour; a strong and not unpleasant smell.
The Dutch mix the seeds with their cheeses, the Germans with their bread; and pigeons are fond of them. Water takes up their odoriferous particles by infusion, though but little of their taste. Distilled with water they afford a pungent oil, which resembles in flavour the seeds. Rectified spirit extracts their whole virtue: the spirituous extract is very warm, moderately pungent, and not a little nauseous.
These seeds are carminative and stomachic, and possess these powers in an equal or superior degree when compared with the other plants of the umbelliferous class; but they are rather unpleasing. Externally they are discutient and antiseptic; affording, when applied to the stomach, a warm and salutary stimulus.
The cataplasma cumini, formerly theriaca Londinen-sis, of the London college, consists of cumin seeds, one pound; bay berries, the leaves of water germander dried, Virginia snake root, of each three ounces; of cloves, one ounce: with honey equal to thrice the weight of the powders. (Ph. Lond. 1788.) This was formerly applied to mortified parts as an antiseptic, but is now seldom used, though by no means an ineffectual remedy.
Emplastrum cumini, consists of Burgundy pitch, three pounds; yellow wax, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, and bay berries, of each three ounces. The pitch and wax are melted together, the seeds and berries are gradually added and stirred well together. (Ph. Lond. 1788.) This is considered as a suitable application to encysted and other tumours, which suppurate imperfectly. See Miller's Dictionary. Lewis's Materia Me-dica. Raii Hist.
Cuminum AEThiopicum. See Ammi verum. Cuminum pratense. See Carum. Cuminum siliquosum, is the codded wild cumin. It grows in Spain, flowers in May, and produces the same effects, medicinally, as the poppy. Hypecoum pendulum Lin. Sp. Pi. 181.