Carum copticum (Hiern) / Trachyspermum ammi
Linn. Sprague /
DC. Apiaceae (Umbelliferae).
It is cultivated throughout most of India.
Morphology Description (Habit)
An erect, glabrous or minutely pubescent,
branched annual. The stems are striate; the leaves are
rather distant, 2-3-pinnately divided, the segments linear.
The flowers occur in terminal or seemingly-lateral
pedunculate, compound umbels, white and small; the fruits
are ovoid, muricate, aromatic cremocarps, greyish brown; the
mericarps, which are the components of the fruit, are
compressed, with distinct ridges and tubercular surface,
The alcoholic extract was found to contain a highly
hygroscopic saponin, with a hemolytic index of 500. A
yellow, crystalline flavone (m.p. 291-94°) and a steroidal
substance (m.p.140-50°) have also been isolated from the
fruits1. The principal constituents of the
essential oil from the fruits are the phenols, mainly thymol
and some carvacrol. The Indian Pharmacopoeia requires ajowan
oil to contain not less than 40 per cent thymol. The
remainder of the oil is called 'thymene'. Thymene, which
constitutes c.45 per cent of the oil, has the following
composition: p-cymene, 50-55; g-terpinene, 30-35; a- and ß-pinenes,
4-5; and dipentene, 4-6%. Presence of minute 'amounts of
camphene, myrcene and D3-carene is also reported2.
Preliminary pharmacological studies of the oil indicated
that it had a parasympathomimetic effect and produced
contraction of the isolated ileum, tracheal chain and
bronchial musculature in guinea pigs. It depressed the
cardiac musculature in frogs and caused a marked fall in
blood pressure in cats. On account of its low toxicity,
further trials of the oil as an hypotensive agent are
recommended. The drug also seems to possess some
Ajowan is much valued for its antispasmodic, stimulant,
tonic and carminative properties. It is administered in
flatulence, atonic dyspepsia and diarrhea, and often
recommended for cholera. In the Unani system, ajowan is used
as a crude drug to enhance the body's resistance, and is
prescribed in amebiasis. It is a potent antimicrobial agent.
- Nutritive Value of Indian Foods, 85, 120, 129;
Roychowdhury, J. Instn Chem. India, 1963, 35, 202;
Mukherjee et. al., Indian J. med. Res., 1967, 55, 1003;
Rao, Bombay Technol.,1962, 12, 106; Chakraborti, Trans.
Bose Res. Inst.,1956-58, 21, 61.
- Guenther, IV, 551; Krishna & Badhwar, J. sci. industr.
Res.,1953, 12A(2), suppl., 288-89; I.P., 1966, 32;
Bhargava & Haksar, Indian Oil & Soap J.,1961-62, 27, 147;
Bhargava & Haksar, Perfum. essent. Oil Rec.,1965, 56, 18;
Nigam et. al., ibid., 1963, 54, 25.
- I.P.C., 162; Menon, 2; Chem. Abstr.,1947, 41, 2209
Mukherjee et. al., Indian J. med. Res., 1967, 55, 1003.