Antimicrobial property, antioxidant capacity, and cytotoxicity of essential oil from cumin produced in Iran

J Food Sci. 2010 Mar;75(2):H54-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01467.x.


Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) is one of the commonly used spices in food preparations. It is also used in traditional medicine as a stimulant, a carminative, and an astringent. In this study, we characterized the antimicrobial, antioxidant, and cytotoxic activities of cumin. E. coli, S. aureus, and S. faecalis were sensitive to various oil dilutions. The total phenol content of the essential oil was estimated to be 33.43 microg GAE/mg of the oil. The oil showed higher antioxidant activity compared with that of BHT and BHA. The cumin essential oil exhibited a dose-dependent scavenging of DPPH radicals and 5.4 microg of the oil was sufficient to scavenge 50% of DPPH radicals/mL. At a concentration of 0.1 microL/mL, oil destructed Hela cells by 79%. The antioxidant activity of cumin essential oil might contribute to its cytotoxic activity. Acute and subchronic toxicity was studied in a 30-d oral toxicity study by administration to Wistar rats of the essential oil. A 17.38% decrease in WBCs count, and 25.77%, 14.24%, and 108.81% increase in hemoglobin concentration, hematocrit, and platelet count, respectively, were noted. LDL/HDL ratio was reduced to half, which adds to the nutritional effects of cumin. Thus, cumin with a high phenolic content and good antioxidant activity can be supplemented for both nutritional purposes and preservation of foods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / blood
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / blood
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Blood Cells / drug effects
  • Cuminum / chemistry*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / drug effects
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / drug effects
  • Hemoglobins / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Male
  • Oxidation-Reduction / drug effects
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Hemoglobins
  • Plant Oils