The most impressive health benefits of carom seeds are its ability to improve the appearance of the hair, optimize digestion, support weight loss efforts, reduce excess flatulence and boost respiratory health, among others. Using carom seeds in the preparation of food, as well as for health purposes, has been a tradition for thousands of years.
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What are Carom Seeds (Ajwain)?
Commonly known as ajwain in many parts of the world, particularly in its native, India, carom seeds are actually the fruits of its herb. Despite not being seeds, the small fruit is easily mistaken for one, considering its diminutive size. The tiny brown fruits are oval in shape and have a rather bitter taste, which is why they are rarely eaten raw. However, there is no danger in doing so, particularly if you are using them for various medicinal purposes.
Ajwain is used in culinary applications across Asia and the Middle East and is often found in international cooking. Carom seeds are extremely potent in terms of taste, and can easily take over a dish. Due to the presence of certain active ingredients, such as thymol, these seeds have a taste that resembles licorice, which is similar to anise. To soften the pungent flavor and smell of these seeds, they are often dry-roasted or fried, or added to sauces to partially mask the flavor.
However, carom seeds are highly valuable in natural medicine, due to the impressive essential oil they contain, including compounds such as thymol, limonene, pinene, and terpinene. This is in addition to the small amount of dietary fiber and various other antioxidants.
Due to its growing popularity, it is important to understand a bit more about this herb, as well as the potential benefits it can have on your health.
Health Benefits of Carom Seeds
For people who feel that their hair is turning gray a bit early, consuming carom seeds is a well-known traditional remedy. If you toss a few carom seeds in a glass of warm water and drink it early in the morning, its high antioxidant and mineral content can help stimulate the health of the hair, keeping you looking young for years.
Despite the ability of carom seeds to stimulate the appetite, it also has laxative properties, and can speed up the digestive process. This will help your body pull out the nutrients and prevent the excess storage of fat. Carom seeds can even boost the metabolism, which further helps with weight loss efforts. Some people also prefer to drink lukewarm water boiled with carom seeds, particularly after a meal, to help with weight loss.
Known primarily as a digestive aid, carom seeds are regularly consumed before or after meals. It helps to improve the digestive efficiency of the gut and stimulate the release of gastric juices. It is also well known to eliminate constipation, which prevents bloating and cramping and even lower your risk of gastric ulcer and colorectal cancer.
For generations, carom seeds have been known to settle the stomach and reduce acidity in the gut, which can stop the excessive production of gas. Flatulence can be an embarrassing ailment, but consuming a handful of these seeds after a meal will show great results.
Boost Respiratory Health
The active ingredient in carom seeds, thymol, has potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, making it an ideal solution for sore throats and other infections of the respiratory system. Crushing carom seeds and then mixing them with water can be a quick and easy remedy to soothe your respiratory tract, treat coughs, and also promote the elimination of mucus and phlegm.
Strengthen Immune System
The essential oils in these seeds have strong antioxidant and antiviral properties that give the immune system a major boost. Whether you consume these seeds raw, boil them in water, or crush them up into various dishes or sauces, thymol and limonene will help ward off dangerous pathogens and infections before they can take hold.
Prevent Chronic Diseases
Various antioxidants found in carom seeds, such as terpinene and pinene, are directly linked to reducing oxidative stress in certain parts of the body. Oxidative stress is caused by free radicals, produced as a result of cellular respiration, but it can lead to inflammation and mutation of healthy cells. This leads to chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease and autoimmune diseases. These seeds, despite being small, can have a major impact on such conditions.
The antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties of carom seeds can help ease the discomfort and pain of arthritis, as well as other inflammatory conditions. Ranging from gout and psoriasis to joint pain or a recent injury, soaking the affected part of the body in water mixed with carom seeds can help reduce swelling.
Stimulate Sex Drive
Anecdotal evidence points to carom seeds as being an excellent stimulant for the sex drive of both men and women. It can overcome infertility issues, as well as get the libido pumping. It can increase virility in men, thanks to its natural aphrodisiac qualities. The best way to benefit from this is to roast the seeds and then mix them with butter or oil.
There is a small amount of protein found in carom seeds, which can help boost growth and development throughout the body. The amino acids found in these proteins are essential for the creation of cells and tissues in our body.
With monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in these seeds, you can maintain your cholesterol balance with regular consumption. The dietary fiber in carom seeds will also help to scrape excess cholesterol, thus lowering your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular complications.
One of the most common uses of carom seeds is in the prevention or treatment of headaches. In some cases, you don’t need to consume these seeds but simply crush them into a poultice and apply to the inflamed or affected area. In the case of migraines, when you apply the crushed seeds, your temples, it can provide rapid relief from the pain. The crushed seeds release thymol, which is an important component in reducing the pain.
Side Effects of Carrom Seeds
Although carom seeds consumed in moderate quantity provide a number of health benefits. However, if you eat an excessive amount of these seeds, it can result in a number of side effects like acidity, indigestion, bleeding problems and mouth ulcers.
Gastrointestinal Problems – Eating too many carom seeds can actually increase acidity in the gut, which can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion, flatulence and even gastric ulcers.
Bleeding Disorders – One of the possible effects of these seeds is a reduction in blood clotting, so if you suffer from a bleeding disorder, it is best to speak with your doctor before using these seeds.
Mouth Ulcers – When plenty of carom seeds are consumed or chewed, the powerful active ingredients can cause inflammation in the mouth, even to the point of developing mouth ulcers. Similarly, if you have had mouth ulcers in the past, be very cautious when consuming these potent seeds.
Liver Issues – Research has shown that some of the organic compounds in carom seeds can exacerbate existing liver conditions. If you are suffering from cirrhosis, hepatitis, or other liver conditions, speak to a doctor before making these seeds a part of your health regimen.