While cumin is best known as a spice for cooking, cumin essential oil (Cuminum cyminum) may help calm nerves, relieve muscle aches and pains, and reduce some digestive complaints.
Plant family: Umbelliferae/Apiaceae
Production: Steam distilled from the seeds of the cumin plant.
Aroma: Spicy, pungent.
Perfume/Aromatic note: Middle to Base
Is cumin oil safe to use during pregnancy? No.
Is cumin oil safe for children? Some sources suggest not using with children under 2 years. Otherwise, dilute well and test for skin reactions.
Cautions: May cause photosensitivity when applied to the skin. Do not expose skin to UV rays for at least 12 hours after applying the oil. May irritate sensitive skin.
When you buy cumin oil, check the method of extraction. If the oil is cold-pressed or expeller-pressed, it is a carrier oil (vegetable oil) and not an essential oil, regardless of what the packaging states. Most cumin essential oil is steam distilled, although a CO2-extracted version is available.
Source: Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Ed.
Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art says that in Ayurveda cumin is believed to stimulate saliva and other digestive juices and relieve digestive-related headaches. "The fragrance counteracts emotional and physical exhaustion and helps instill stability."
Aromatherapy for Dummies: Cumin may help reduce fungus.
Essential Oils: All Natural Remedies: Cumin is stimulating and lessens fatigue, calms nerves and lifts spirits, and eases digestive discomfort.
The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (updated edition): Cumin may help improve circulation and ease indigestion, flatulence, headaches, and nervous exhaustion.
Aromatherapy For Health Professionals: Cumin may fight fungus and inflammation, is calming, and is useful for the digestive system.
A small study suggested cumin might help relieve the symptoms of IBS. The study used cumin extract containing 2% essential oil orally. Caution: Consult a professional before using an essential oil internally.
Essential Oils Handbook for Aromatherapy Practice: In ayurvedic aromatherapy, cumin is pungent and slightly hot. It controls Vata and Kapha, without aggravating Pitta unless used in excess.
Diffuse cumin to help relieve fatigue and raise spirits.
Make a warming massage oil to relieve joint pain and muscle aches or to rub on your abdomen for digestive complaints. Dilute to less than 0.5%.
For cellulite, Aromatherapy: The Complete Guide to Plant and Flower Essences for Health and Beauty by Danièle Ryman suggests the following massage oil:
Blend ingredients. Use the oil blend to massage areas of cellulite.
Caution: Spot test this oil before using on a large area. Avoid sun or tanning bed for at least 12 to 24 hours after applying the oil.
I recommend cumin oil from Young Living.
Photo Credits: Cumin oil by Itineranttrader [Public domain via Wikimedia Commons]; Cumin seed by Maša Sinreih in Valentina Vivod (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons