Common Name: Ajwain
Scientific Name: Trachyspermum ammi L.
- History and Origin
- Ajwain Plant Structure
- Ajwain Health Benefits
- What Are Ajwain Side Effects?
- Nutritional Information
- Ajwain Daily Dosage
- Bioactive Compounds
- Best Time to Consume
- Possible Drug Interactions
- Traditional Use
- Some Questions about Ajwain
History and Origin
Ajwain most probably originated in Egypt; however, it is currently cultivated across the Middle East. This ancient plant has been used as medicine just like many other spices.
Ajwain Plant Structure
Ajwain is an evergreen, branched, aromatic and herbaceous plant, with a height of up to 90 cm, with soft fine hair, branched leafy stems, feather-like leaves 2–3 pinnately divided, segments linear with flowers terminal and compound. Fruits are small, ovoid, and muricate, around cremocarps, 2–3 mm long, with grayish-brown compressed mericarps and distinct five ridges and tubercular surface. (1)
Fig. 1 The photo of T. ammi
Ajwain Health Benefits
1. Improving Digestive System Function
Ajwain is made of Thymol, a chemical which aids the release of gastric juices from the stomach. As a result, it accelerates the process of food digestion.Thus, Ajwain can play a key role in relieving indigestion, flatulence, nausea and stomackache in babies. (2)
An article published in the Journal of Natural Remedies has proved that this plant increases gastric acid secretion and activity of digestive enzymes; in other words, it increases lipase and amylase in pancreas and also reduces food transit time in digestion system. (3)
2. Improving Respiratory Tract Function
The Journal of Natural Remedies has further stated that the antitussive (cough suppressant) effect of Ajwain seed oil has been observed by counting the number of coughs produced. The results have shown that Ajwain seeds significantly decrease coughing. In another study exploring the bronchodilatory effect of decocted extract of Ajwain on the asthmatic patients’ airways, it has been observed that Ajwain extract has a positive effect on respiratory system and can be used as a medicine similar to theophylline. In other studies, this plant has shown inhibitory effects on histamine (H1) receptors in trachea of guinea pigs. According to the researchers, the relaxant and bronchodilatory effect of essential oil is associated with the presence of Carvacrol in it. (3)
3. Improving Liver Function
The protective effect of Ajwain has been studied on livers of mice in an article published by the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. The study has concluded that Ajwain methanol extract protects the livers of mice against the negative effect of Paracetamol and adjusts liver enzymes, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and aminotransferase (AST and ALT) levels when the liver is damaged. (3)
The effects of Ajwain on liver toxicity in rats resulted from Hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) is also reported in a published study by the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology. The study has revealed that HCH increases hepatic lipid peroxidation associated with reduction in glutathione levels, activity of superoxide dismutase, catalase and Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase which all are considered to be negative for liver. Ajwain lowers lipid peroxidase amount in liver and increases the aforementioned enzymes activity, eliminating the HCH toxic effect. (4)
4. Regulating Blood Cholesterol Levels
In a study conducted in vivo, Ajwain seed powder has shown to have a positive effect on lipid profile, reducing total cholesterol, negative cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol), triglycerides and total lipids. (3)
The results of another study on the effects of Ajwain on blood lipids of patients with hyperlipidemia published in the Journal of Drug Delivery and Therapeutics has indicated that this plant reduces negative cholesterol and increases positive cholesterol. According to the study, Niacin and Thymol in Ajwain both can keep cardiovascular system healthy. Moreover; the cholesterol-lowering effect of this plant may be resulted from its reduction effect on enterohepatic circulation (circulation of substances between liver and intestine). (5)
According to a study published in the Iranian Journal of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Ajwain relieves the chronic pain resulted from formalin in mice. According to the researchers, the pain relief effect of Ajwain may be resulted from Thymol and essential lipid acids existed in the plant extract, which both activate the choline in central nervous system. Choline is one of the pain relief mechanisms, which relieves tonic and continuous pains. (6)
In another study conducted on laboratory animals and published in the Journal of Pharmacy, the researchers have found that Ajwain alcoholic extract can be used as a pain relief substance. According to the study, this pain relief effect is both quick and long lasting. The extract consists of alkaloids, flavonoids, steroids and polyphenols, which are all pain relief compounds. (7)
6. Alleviating Peptic Ulcer Disease
The effects of omeprazole and Ajwain hydroalchoholic extract on treatment of peptic ulcer disease resulted from ibuprofen usage in mature rats have been investigated. The results have shown that Ajwain extract treats peptic ulcer disease in rats depending on its dosage. The Ajwain-treated group has shown significantly lower and smaller sores compared to the sores of omeprazole-treated group. The liver enzymes were also increased in the Ajwain-treated group. It is not clear how Ajwain extract treats peptic ulcer disease. However; comparing this plant effect with omeprazole effect, it is probable that this plant effects on the secretion of gastric acid just like omeprazole. It is also possible that the anti-oxidant effect of this plant plays a role in treatment of this disease. (8)
7. Regulating Blood Pressure
A study published in the Journal of Pharmacy Research has concluded that Ajwain extract can lower blood pressure depending on the consumed dosage. This extract has lowered blood pressure from 6% (dosage: 3 mg/kg) to 42% (dosage: 100 mg/kg). (9)
This plant also consists of a calcium channel blocker-like compound (Thymol) which itself can be a reason for lowering blood pressure. (10)
What Are Ajwain Side Effects?
1. Pregnancy and Breast-Feeding
Ajwain seeds can cause the uterus to contract, and this might threaten the pregnancy. It is also best to avoid using Ajwain seeds if you are breast-feeding. There is not enough information to make sure whether it is safe for a nursing infant or not.
2. Liver Disease
There is some evidence that Ajwain seeds might worsen some kinds of liver diseases.
Ajwain seeds might slow blood clotting. There is a concern that it might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. So, stop using Ajwain seeds at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery. (11)
As reported by a study, Ajwain seeds contain fiber, carbohydrate, glycosides, tannins, moisture, protein, fat, saponins, flavones and minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, nicotinic acid and iron. (12)
Ajwain Daily Dosage
Ajwain seeds dosage varies according to the health condition, age and symptoms. The general dosage is as follows:
– Culinary use: 1 to 3 grams a day
– Therapeutic dosage: 2 to 4 grams
– Water extract of Ajwain seeds: 10 to 100 mg. (11)
Long-term use or overdose of Ajwain can lead to queasiness, dizziness, loss of appetite, headache or sleep disorders. Very high dosages, corresponding to over 100 mg Ajwain, may cause elevated levels (reversible) of liver enzymes in blood plasma. (13)
Thymol, Cymene, Alpha-Pinene, Dipentene, Gamma-Terpinene, Beta-Pinene, Myrcene, Carvacrol, Terpinene-4-ol, Carvone, Limonene, Dillapiole, Oleic acid, Linoleic acid, Palmitic acid and Petroselinic acid.
Best Time to Consume
1-2 hours before or after meals.
Possible Drug Interactions
1. Medications that are Changed and Broken Down by the Liver
The liver is responsible for processing the medications. Therefore, some medications are changed and broken down by the liver before they can take effect.
Since Ajwain seeds might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications, taking Ajwain seeds along with those medications can increase their side effects. Thus, if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver, talk to your health care provider before taking Ajwain seeds. Some of these medications are lovastatin (Mevacor), itraconazole (Sporanox), triazolam (Halcion), fexofenadine (Allegra) and ketoconazole (Nizoral).
2. Medications that can harm the liver (Hepatotoxic drugs)
Some medications that can harm the liver include acetaminophen (Tylenol), amiodarone (Cordarone), carbamazepine (Tegretol), isoniazid (INH), methotrexate (Rheumatrex), fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), methyldopa (Aldomet), phenytoin (Dilantin), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol) , simvastatin (Zocor) and erythromycin (Erythrocin).
3. Medications that Slow Blood Clotting
Ajwain might slow blood clotting. So, taking it along with medications that slow blood clotting might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding. Some of these medications are aspirin, diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam), heparin and warfarin (Coumadin), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), clopidogrel (Plavix).
4. Medications that Cause Photosensitivity
Some medications can cause photosensitivity. Since Ajwain seeds might also cause photosensitivity, taking it along with those medications might increase the risk of sunburn, blistering or rashes on areas of skin exposed to sunlight.
So, when you take Ajwain along with medications that cause photosensitivity, make sure to wear sunscreen and sun-safe clothing when spending time outdoors (in the sun). Some of these medications are amitriptyline, norfloxacin, ciprofloxacin, lomefloxacin, ofloxacin, levofloxacin, sparfloxacin, moxifloxacin, gatifloxacin, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, methoxsalen and Trioxsalen. (14)
In traditional medicine, Ajwain has been used as an anti-tympanites, anti-nausea, anti-pinworm, diuretic and mucus secretor. It is known to be anti-pinworm as it contains Thymol, while its anti-spasm and anti-tympanites effects are attributed to its volatile essence.
Some Questions about Ajwain
Is Ajwain addictive?
At this time, there is not enough evidence about the addiction to Ajwain.
Is it good to eat Ajwain every day?
The appropriate dose of Ajwain seeds depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Ajwain seeds can be consumed daily but you must consult with a health care practitioner if you are in any certain conditions.
Does Ajwain have any effect on loose motion?
Ajwain seeds have been traditionally consumed for stomach disorders such as indigestion, bloating, flatulence and diarrhea. Ajwain is a home remedy for diarrhea.Eating a spoon of Ajwain seeds powder with hot water or chewing it after each meal can help relieve diarrhea.
Is Ajwain a medicinal plant?
Ajwain is known for its medicinal value. The herb has long been used in traditional medicine, and scientific studies on its active compounds have determined its health benefits.
What is Ajwain water?
Ajwain water is Ajwain seeds boiled in water.In order to prepareAjwain water, once water starts boiling, put the flame on medium and add the roasted Ajwain seeds into water; leave it boiling until it becomes of a brown color; remove it from the heat, and strain the liquid for use.
Does Ajwain have any effect on weight loss?
When the digestive system works flawlessly, it is less likely to gain extra weight. According to a study, Ajwain is rich in Thymol which increases secretion of gastric acid and activity of digestive enzymes.
Is Ajwain good during pregnancy?
Ajwain seeds can cause the uterus to contract and this might threaten the pregnancy. It is best to avoid using Ajwain seeds if you are pregnant.
How many Newsha Ajwain teabags should we drink every day?
Every teabag contains 1.5 to 3 grams of tea or herbal tea and generally, consuming 3 to 5 grams per day and at least 2 hours after a meal is recommended. For more information about recommended daily dosage of Ajwain, see the “Ajwain Daily Dosage” section.
13. (2000). PDR for herbal medicines. 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company.