Dr. Vikas Sharma & Risha Bharti
‘Kalazira’ or ‘Shahi Jeera’ or ‘Kashmiri Jeera’ or ‘Caraway Seeds’ or ‘Black Cumin’ or ‘Himalayan Cumin’ is one the most important seed spices that grows as wild especially in dry regions of hilly tracts in North-Western Himalayas and is between dark brown to black in color. It is widely used for flavouring bread, biscuits, cakes and cheese and its tubers are eaten as vegetable in J&K. It has got varied uses in traditional medicine as it contains a host of important minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium and phosphorus along with vitamin A. Kalazira, known as a wonder spice, is also used in the preparation of medicines. Let’s take a quick peek into some of the many health benefits of this magical spice:4Caraway seeds are diuretic, expectorant and tonic and are used as remedies for bronchitis and cough.4The seeds soothe the digestive tract and relieve colic, cramps, bloating and flatulence by directly acting on the intestinal muscles.4The powder of the seeds improves appetite and is helpful in treating ear ache.4Its astringency helps in treating of diarrhea and is used as a gargle for laryngitis.4It is useful to treat skin diseases like the eczema, dry skin and psoriasis4It is believed to boost cardiovascular health and also help in regulating blood sugar levels.4It helps to stop bleeding from the gums and cures mouth ulcers.4It counters heart irregularity caused by excess digestive gas.4It is also believed to be good for female reproductive health, reduces inflammation of the uterus and eases menstrual cramps4It is helpful in improving prenatal health in pregnant women.4It is helpful for lactating mothers by providing high iron content and milk production.4Daily use of Kala Zira in food helps in improving memory, controlling diabetes by reducing blood sugar level.Anti-bacterial: The essential oil of caraway seeds has a greater inhibitory effect on gram-positive bacteria than gram-negative bacteria. The plant has a high antimicrobial effect on pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella species.Anti-fungal properties: Cuminaldehyde is the main antifungal component present in Kalazira. Kalazira has shown significant anti-fungal properties against all types of food spoilage and pathogen fungi such as Aspergillus species.Anti-oxidative properties: Caraway has high antioxidant activity due to monoterpene alcohols, linalool, carvacrol, carvone, limonene, anethole, estragol, flavonoids and other polyphenolic compounds. It has been reported that daily use in diet is efficacious, cost-effective, as a good antioxidant with no side effects.Anti-carcinogenic: The powder form of caraway seeds assists in cancer treatment due to its powerful activities in radical scavenging, by slowing down development of colon and breast cancer cells. Monoterpenes like anethofuran, carvone and limonene present in the essential oil of the cumin have prominent anticarcinogenic properties.Anti-diabetic effects: Kalazira compounds, especially flavonoids and carvone, have a strong antioxidant activity, which provides renoprotection against diabetes and its complications.
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