Post-digestive effect: pungent
Dosha: reduces Kapha and Vata, increases Pitta
Actions: stimulant, diaphoretic, expectorant, carminative, antispasmodic, diuretic, lithotriptic
Ajwain isn’t a new seed at all, but definitely not a common herb in the West and you can’t find it easily in the supermarket (except Indian grocers of course!). Whenever I speak of it people have never heard of it before but it is a herb with so many health benefits and worthy of having a place in your kitchen cupboard to be sure. Let me explain here.
Ajwain is sometimes mistaken for Caraway Seeds or a smaller version of Cumin Seeds, but is an entirely different herb altogether. Also known as Wild Indian Celery, Carom Seeds or Bishop’s Weed, it has quite a strong taste so depending on what you are making should probably be used in small quantities.
So what can this special herb you’ve never heard of before do for you?
Well it is the best pacifier of high Vata especially in the Autumn and Spring when our Vata Dosha is prone to imbalance and great for those suffering from poor appetite, digestive complaints and nervous system disorders. Its expectorant action is heating and clears out deep-seated Ama (toxins) as well as relieving intestinal gas and sinus congestion. An energising herb for the nerves and one that promotes proper kidney function also.
Ajwain fruits and seeds are used for medicinal purposes and can be taken as an infusion (although can be harsh in flavour for some), in powdered form or the dry seeds can be added to your cooking for example in Kitcheree which is a great healing dish to have periodically throughout the year, especially when cleansing. You could even add a pinch of the seeds in your morning drink for a time when Vata needs a helping hand to come back into balance.
Pop on down to your nearest Indian grocer for a bag of this wonderful herb – you won’t know what you’re missing out on until you do!
Reference: some information in this post has been taken and adapted from the book by Dr David Frawley and Dr Vasant Lad, The Yoga of Herbs – An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine (1986, 2001) (155, 220)