GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A strongly aromatic annual herb about 1 metre high with bright green delicate leaves, umbels of lacelike white flowers, followed by a mass or green, round seeds.
DISTRIBUTION: Native to Europe and western Asia; naturalised in North America. Cultivated throughout the world, the oil is mainly produced in the USSR.
OTHER SPECIES: Various chemotypes of the same species are found according to geographical location.
HERBAL/FOLK TRADITION: A herb with a long history of use the seeds were found in the ancient Egyptian tomb of Rameses II. The seeds and leaves are widely used as a granish and domestic spice, especially in curries. It has been used therapeutically, mainly in the form of an infusion for children s diarrhoea, digestive upsets, griping pains, anorexia and flatulence. In Chinese medicine the whole herb is used for dysentery, piles, measles, nausea, toothache and for painful hernia.
ACTIONS: Analgesic, aperitif, aphrodisiac, anti-oxidant, anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic, bactericidal, depurative, digestive, carminative, cytotoxic, fungicidal, larvicidal, lipolytic, revitalizing, stimulant (cardiac, circulatory, nervous system), stomachic.
EXTRACTIONS: Essential oil by steam distillation from the crushed ripe seeds. An essential oil is also produced by steam distillation from the fresh and dried leaves