Few facts you must know before introducing any seed in your diet.
- As per the science of Ayurveda, Seeds are powerful, strong and not so easily digestible food.
- Always consider your constitution, lifestyle before introducing any new food (including seeds) in your diet. Especially, when it is not grown/cooked in Indian soil.
- Most of the seeds have medicinal properties which can be either healing or damaging if not taken under the guidance of a health professional.
- In many articles on the internet, information of only the benefits of that food/herb is mentioned. Any other side-effects or warnings or systematically avoided. This is dangerously misleading and can have an ill effect on a person’s health condition. For example, Chia seeds are extremely heating and should be consumed with many precautions. Flaxseed is extremely heavy to digest which can make your liver dull if consumed for many days.
- Seeds should be consumed in very fewer quantities, for a certain period and certain seasons.
I would like to describe seeds that are commonly used in Indian kitchens for healing or nutritional purposes.
1. Sesame Seeds (Til) :-
Sesame seeds can be consumed raw, roasted or in powder form.
Healing properties of Sesame seed:-
- Rejuvenative tonic for bones & teeth.
- Can help in control hair fall.
- Aids digestion. Can be consumed after your meals in small quantities (1/4th teaspoon).
- Beneficial in the winter season because of its warm post-digestive effect.
- An Excellent Vata pacifying.
- Mild aphrodisiac if consumed with Shatavari (a herb).
Precautions taken before consuming Sesame Seeds:-
- Its post-digestive effect is warm. A person having pitta type constitution should be careful about consuming sesame seeds.
- Should be avoided in summers by everyone.
- Women having tendencies of heavy menstruation or painful menstruation must avoid sesame seeds
- Sesame should be avoided in conditions like slow digestion, burning urination, abdominal pain, hyperacidity.
- It can help in gaining weight.
2. Cumin Seeds (Jeera):-
Botanical name – Cuminum cyminum.
Indian cooking is certainly incomplete without this wonder seed. It can be used as a raw powder or as a whole in cooking.
Healing effects of Cumin Seed:-
- A proven uterine tonic
- Promotes digestion and ignites digestive fire (Agni).
- Enhances the taste of any food
- Cumin seeds infused in hot water is used in cases of bloating.
- Cumin seed decoction is given to lactating mothers to make breast milk digestible for babies.
- Cumin seed decoction with ghee is very useful for reducing menstrual pain.
3. Poppy Seeds (Khaskhas):-
Botanical name – Papaver spp
Poppy seeds are non-narcotic.
Healing benefits of Poppy Seeds:-
- Strengthen small intestines
- Induces sleep.
- Can be used as a nervine tonic.
- Nourishes muscles, bones and nerves.
Precautions taken before consuming Poppy seeds:-
- It is Tamasic in nature and can dull the mind.
- Should be avoided in conditions like gastritis and colitis.
4. Fenugreek Seeds (Methi):-
Botanical name – Trigonella foenumgraeceum
Fenugreek seeds are widely used in Indian kitchens to add extra flavour to the dish and also used as raw powder.
Healing properties of Fenugreek Seeds:-
- It can be used in cases of sciatica and arthritis.
- Promotes hair growth.
- Seed paste can be used externally for boils, ulcers and hard to heal sores.
- It can be added to curries as a digestion-promoting spice.
- It is good herbal food for the nervous, respiratory and reproductive system.
- As a tonic, one teaspoon can be taken daily, heated in one cup of milk.
Precautions taken before consuming Fenugreek Seeds:-
- Fenugreek seeds should be completely avoided in pregnancy.
- Contra-indicated in bleeding disorders like bleeding piles, nasal bleeding, heavy menstruation.
- It should not be consumed in high Pitta disorders like psoriasis, ulcers, migraines etc.
5. Fennel Seeds (saunf):-
Botanical name – Foeniculum Vulgaris
Fennel seeds can be taken roasted after meals by themselves or with rock salt.
Healing powers of Fennel seeds:-
- It is one of the best herbs for digestion which strengthens the digestive fire (Agni).
- It can help in stopping flatulence and cramping the stomach.
- Excellent for digestive weakness in children as well as in elderly people.
- Fennel seeds are calming to the nerves.
- It has a soothing aroma that acts upon the mind and promotes mental alertness.
- Fennel seeds can be combined with coriander for the urinary problem.
- It can also help promote menstruation and to promote milk flow for nursing mothers.
6. Carom Seeds (Ajwain):-
Botanical name – Apium graveolense
This is an aromatic seed commonly used for flavouring as well as for digestive issues.
Healing properties of Carom Seeds:-
- It has amazing gut healing properties.
- Carom seeds can be used for almost every issue related to digestion; from bloating to constipation.
- A hot poultice is made from Carom seeds and used for reducing gastric pain.
- Gently smelling the fumes of Carom seeds can improve the sense of smell.
- Carom seed powder mixed with rock salt can be consumed before food to aid digestion.
Precautions taken before consuming Carom Seeds:-
- Carom seeds should be avoided in chronic acidity.
- Overconsumption of Carom seeds can have ill effects on digestion.
7. Garden Vress (Ahaliv):-
Botanical name – Lepidium sativum
It is a slimy, fatty seed that is heating in nature.
Healing benefits of Garden cress:-
- Soak overnight a teaspoon of Garden cress seeds in warm water. Add little jaggery or sugar the next morning and drink. This will help in relieving chronic constipation.
- It is a fantastic lubricant of the digestive tract.
- Garden cress cooked in milk is a proven remedy for promoting lactating milk after childbirth.
- It is also given in Vata disorders, specifically in degenerative disorders like arthritis and poor nerve conduction.
- An Underweight person can consume Garden cress Kheer (seeds cooked in milk with ghee & sugar) to gain weight.
Precautions taken before consuming Garden cress seeds:-
- Garden cress seeds are heavy to digest and may slow down the appetite.
- Seeds should be consumed in small quantities. Overdose can have ill effects.
8. Basil Seeds (Sabja, Takmaria):-
Botanical name – Ocimum Basilicum
These seeds are widely used is summers and in hot regions. They become soft and slimy after soaking in the water.
Health benefits of Basil Seeds:-
- Basil seeds are very cooling. They can be used in urinary disorders like a burning or incomplete urination.
- It is used in disorders related to high Pitta like skin issues, burning feet, heat boils, chickenpox.
- It is a popular summer drink. One can make milkshakes or sharbat of these seeds.
Precautions taken before consuming Basil Seeds:-
- Vata type or Kapha type people should be careful before consuming Basil seeds.
- Individuals having issues like sinusitis, chronic cough, frequent attacks of cold must avoid consuming Basil seeds.
- Avoid having Basil seed in winters.
The above information of seeds in Ayurveda is written by a Vaidya (Ayurveda doctor) with a clinical experience of more than 15 years. This information is shared by her, based on her self-clinical case studies and after treating thousands of patients. It is strongly advised to take the opinion of an Ayurveda doctor before you introduce any new food like seeds and get your constitution (prakruti) understood for healthy living.
A meritorious alumna of the prestigious RA Poddar Ayurvedic College with profound spiritual understanding. She is trained in Nadi vidya by a strict guru-shishya lineage and has clinical experience with more than 15 years. An excellent orator who has been invited to various national and international platforms that empower audiences with the knowledge of Āyurveda. Dr. Rushalli Nair is the first-ever lady Vaidya who has been invited to Swaminarayan temple to offer her services to Sadhvis and devotees.