• The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World

AJOWAN ( Trachyspermum ammi (L.) Sprague ex Turrill )
SYNONYMS: Bishop’s weed, carum seed or carum ajowan.

Names in Other Languages:

English Ajawa seeds, Ajowan , Ajwain, Carom
French Ajouan, Ajowan
German Adiowan, Ajowan,Königskümmel, Indischer Kümmel
Spanish Ajowan , Ayowam
Italian Ajowan, Ammi, Sisone.
Turkish Mısır anasonu
Japanese アジョワン Ajowan.

FAMILY: Apiaceae

ORIGIN:   Ajowan is indigenous to India and Egypt
GENERAL DESCRIPTION:

Ajowan is an annual, aromatic and herbaceous plant. It is profusely branched with a height of 60– 90 cm small, erect with soft fine hair. It has many branched leafy stems, feather-like leaves 2– 3 pinnately divided, segments linear with flowers terminal and compound. The fruits are small, ovoid, muricate, around cremocarps, 2– 3 mm long, with greyish-brown compressed mericarps with distinct five ridges and tubercular surface. The fruits are the size and shape of parsley.

USEFUL PARTS:

The ajowan seeds are commercially valued and also the entire plant has its herbal value.

SENSORY PROPERTIES:

Ajowan seeds have an aromatic smell and a warm pungent taste.

MAIN CONSTITUENTS:

The chemical composition of ajowan seed varies with, region, variety and stage of harvest.
The chemical composition of seeds is moisture 8.9%, protein 15.4%, fat (ether extract) 18.1%, crude fibre 11.9%, carbohydrates 38.6%, mineral matter 7.1%, calcium 1.42%, phosphorus 0.30%, iron 14.6 mg/100 g and a calorific value of 379.4 per 100 g [1]

In the seeds of ajowan one of the main constituents are “the volatile oil” and it provides a typical flavour by the effect of thymol. Constituents of the seed are an aromatic volatile essential oil and a crystalline substance, stearoptene. It also contains cumene and terpene-‘thymene’. A phenolic glucoside has been isolated and identified as 2-methyl-3-glucosyoxy-5-isopropylophenol. The fruits of ajowan yield 2– 4% of essential oil, containing thymol (35– 60%) as the major ingredient. Thymol crystallizes easily from the oil on cooling. The remainder of the oil consists of p-cymene, dipentene, β-terpinene and carvacrol [2]

Chemical composition of ajowan ground spice per 100 g

Composition
Carbohydrate (g)
Protein (g)
Fibre (g)
Water (g)
Food energy (calory)
Minerals (g)
Ca (g)
P (g)
Na (mg)
K (mg)
Fe (mg)
Thiamine (mg)
Riboflavin (mg)
Niacin (mg)
Content

24.6
17.1
21.2
7.4
363
7.9
1.525
0.443
56
1.38
27.7
0.21
0.28
2.1

Source: ( * )

Ajowan oil has been reported to contain 27 compounds, of which thymol (61%) is the largest, with paracymene (15.6%), terpinene (11.9%), β-pinene (4– 5%), dipentene (4– 6%), comphene and myrcene in trace[3]

The water distilled oil from fruits and aerial parts of ajowan contains thymol (42.7% and 46.2%), (38.5% and 38.9%) and p-cymene (14.1% and 13.9%) as main compounds [4]

Ajowan owes its characteristic odour and taste to the presence of an essential oil (2– 4%). Other constituents in the fruits include sugars, tannins and glycosides.

Essential oil composition of ajowan seed

Component
Phenolic part
Safrole
Thymol
Carvacrol
Non-phenolic part
α-thujene
α-pinene
β-pinene
Myrcene
p-cymene
Limonene
γ-terpinene
Terpinolene
Linalool 7
Camphor
(Z) β-terpineol
(E) β-terpineol
Borneol
Terpinen-4-ol
α-teropineol
Carvone
Safrole

Essential oil (%)


0.10
87.75
11.17

0.27
0.28
2.38
0.81
60.78
8.36
22.26
0.13
0.27
0.28
0.19
1.35
0.49
0.12
0.22
0.15
0.16

Source: ( ** )

MAIN USES IN FOOD PROCESSING:

The ajowan seed is used in folk medicines from ancient times and also it has many uses for flavouring, culinary, household and cosmetic purposes.The ajowan seed has been popular from ancient times for its use in folk medicines.

The major processed products are ajowan oil, oleoresin, thymol, thymol crystals, dethymolized oil (thymene) and fatty oils.


Ajowan oil is extracted from the seed by the steam distillation method. The two kinds of oils, i.e. essential oil (volatile oil) and non-volatile fatty oils, are extracted.

Ajowan seeds contain 3– 4% essential oil and 26% fatty oils.

The ajowan oleoresin prepared from seeds gives a warm, aromatic and pleasing flavour to food products. The ajowan oleoresins are used in processed foods, snacks, sauces and various vegetable preparations.

Fatty oils produced from ajowan seed, have their use in various pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Fatty oils are mainly used in soap industry for flavouring and as deodorant. They are also used for perfuming disinfectant soaps and as an insecticide.

Thymol isolated from the oil is a powerful antiseptic and an ingredient in a number of skin ointments/powders, deodorant, mouthwashes, toothpastes and gargles.

A thymol-free fraction of the oil, known as ‘thymene’, finds application in soap perfumes.

The oil also contains, in addition to thymol, a liquid hydrocarbon, which is called as cymol or cymene. These crystals from the oil are sold as ajowan-ka-phool (crystals) or sat-ajowan (water of ajowan) in the Indian market and is valued as medicine. It is probable also that the oil contains another hydrocarbon, which is isomeric with oil of turpentine.

Neither the thymol nor the liquid constituent (cymol) of the oil of ajowan has any rotatory power. Ajowan powder is produced by grinding dried seeds. The pre-chilling and reduced temperature grinding can be used to overcome the loss of volatile oils. The finer powder product is mostly used for seasoning of foods whereas the coarse product is used for the purpose of extraction of oils, oleoresin and other extractives [5]

Among other products, ajowan salt is commercially prepared by mixing finely ground rock salt and is mostly used for folk remedies of digestive problems. The whole ajowan seed, powder and oil are used as adjuncts for flavouring foods, as antioxidants and as a preservative in confection, beverages and pan mixtures. Ajowan oil is also used in the preparation of lotions and ointments in the cosmetic industries[6]

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES:

Ajowan oil and thymol possess severel functional properties such as;

--> Antimicrobial;
--> Antiflatulent and antispasmodic;
--> Antirheumatic;
--> Diuretic;
--> Stimulant, carminative and expectorant

Ajowan seeds are reported to be useful in flatulence, colic, atonic dyspepsia, diarrhoea, cholera, hysteria and spasmodic affections of bowels[7] The seed produces a feeling of warmth and relieves sinking and fainting feelings which accompany bowel disorders. Ajowan seed in conjunction with asafoetida, myrobalan and rock salt proved beneficial in stomach ache problems.

A teaspoonful of seeds with a little salt is a common domestic remedy for indigestion from irregular diet.

For stomach ache, cough and digestion, the seeds are masticated and swallowed, and this is followed by intake of a glass of hot water. A hot poultice of seed is used as a dry fomentation to the chest in asthma and expectoration from bronchitis.

The methanolic extracts of ajowan seed possess natural antioxidant properties. Thymol is also a powerful antiseptic and has agreeable odour.

Thus it is also useful in controlling a variety of fungal infections of the skin.

The aqueous portion left after the separation of essential oil from ajowan is known as omum-water (ajowan water), which is used against flatulence and in gripe water preparation for children. [8]

The oil is mainly carminative and antiflatulent. It is also applied to relieve rheumatic and neuralgic pain. It is also used to eradicate worms and in urticaria [9]

Traditionally, the seeds have been used in India as a folk remedy for arthritis, asthma, coughs, diarrohea, indigestion, intestinal gas, influenza and rheumatism[10]

• Ajowan seed and its extract do not appear to have any significant toxicity. The amount of ajowan normally used in food are non-toxic. Normally, the concentrations of compounds in ajowan do not pose a health threat for consumption or to field workers handling the plants.

REFERENCES and SOURCES:

http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Trac_amm.html
http://www.indianetzone.com/1/ajowan.htm
http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/ajowan.html
Peter, K.V., 2004, Handbook of Herbs and Spices, Woodhead Publishing,Cambridge, 331.
http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ege

(*)AGARWAL, S., SASTRY, E.V.D and SHARMA, R.K. (2000), Seed Spices – Production, Quality and Export. Pointer Publisher, Jaipur, India.
(**)BHATTACHARYA, A.K., KAUL, P.N and RAJESHWARA, R.B.R. (1998), Essential oil composition of ajowan seed production in Andhra Pradesh. Indian Perfumer 42: 65– 7.

[1] PRUTHI, J.S. (2001), Minor Spices and Condiments. ICAR, New Delhi, pp. 124– 33, 659– 60.
[2] PRAJAPATI, N.D., PUROHIT, S.S., SHARMA, A. and KUMAR, T. (2003), A Handbook of Medicinal Plants. Agribios India, Jodhpur, India, pp. 362– 3.
[3] KRISHNAMOORTHY, V., MADALGERI, M.B. and KANAN, C. (2000), Effect of interaction of N and P on seed and essential oil yield of ajowan genotypes. J.Spices Arom.Crops 9(2): 137– 9.
[4] MASOUDI, S., RUSTAIYAN, A., AMERI, N., MONFARED, A., KOMEILIZADEH, H., KAMALINEJED, M. JANU ROODI, J. (2002), Volatile oils of Carum copticum. J. Essential Oil Res. 14(4): 288– 9.
[5] MALHOTRA, S.K. (2000), Value added spices products. In Spices Crops of India (ed.) P.S. Arya. Kalyani Publishers, New Delhi,. pp. 73– 7.
[6] MALHOTRA, S.K. (2004a), Underexploited seed spices. In Spices, Medicinal and Aromatic Crops (ed.) J. Singh. University Press, Hyderabad, India (in press).
[7] (reviewed by Pruthi, 2001; Latif and Rahman, 1999).
[8] KRISHNAMOORTHY, V., MADALGERI, M.B. and KANAN, C. (2000), Effect of interaction of N and P on seed and essential oil yield of ajowan genotypes. J.Spices Arom.Crops 9(2): 137– 9.
[9] PRAJAPATI, N.D., PUROHIT, S.S., SHARMA, A. and KUMAR, T. (2003), A Handbook of Medicinal Plants. Agribios India, Jodhpur, India, pp. 362– 3.
[10] SAYRE, J.K. (2001), Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs. Bottlebrush Press, San Carlos, CA.