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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Volatile Oils

Ajowan is the dried ripe seeds of Trachyspermum ammi (L.) Sprague, belonging to family Apiaceae.




Biological Source


Ajowan is the dried ripe seeds of Trachyspermum ammi (L.) Sprague, belonging to family Apiaceae.


Geographical Source


It is a native of Egypt and grown through out India, Mediterranean region and in south-west Asian countries such as Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.


Cultivation and Collection


Ajowan is an erect, glabrous or minutely pubescent, branched annual herb, up to 90 cm tall. The crop is grown in cold weather, both as a dry crop and under irrigation. It grows on all kinds of soil, but does well on loams or clayey loams. Seeds are sown broadcast in the moist soil from September to November. Germination takes in 5–15 days, depending upon climatic conditions. First irrigation should be light. The flowering takes place in about two months. The harvesting period is February or March. The fruits become ready for harvesting when the flower heads turn brown. The plants then pulled out by the roots and dried. The dried fruits are separated by carefully rubbing with hands or feet.




The drug occurs as entire cremocarps or separated mericarps. Cremocarps are ovoid-cordate to ovate, laterally compressed; 1.7–3.0 mm long; 1.5–2.4 mm broad, dirty yellow to yellowish brown in colour and half to two-thirds apical portion has slight purplish tinge. At the top of the cremocarp is a bifid stylopod surrounded by five minute sepals. Each mericarp shows five light-coloured ridges and is covered with light yellow protuberances. The drug has an agreeable odour and aromatic and warming taste.


                 Trachyspermum ammi

Chemical Constituents


Ajowan contains an essential oil (2–3.5%), protein (17.1%), and fat (21.8%). Ajowan oil is a colourless or brownish yellow liquid possessing a characteristic odour of thymol and a sharp taste. The principal constituents of the oil are phenol, mainly thymol (35–60%), carvacrol, p-cymene, γ-terpinene, α-, and β-pinenes and dipentene. The fatty oil is composed of palmitic, petroselinic, oleic, linoleic, and 5,6-octadecanoic acids.




Ajowan is widely used as a spice in curries; in pickles, certain types of biscuits, confectionery, and in beverages. It is valued for its antispasmodic, stimulant, tonic, and carminative properties. It is given in flatulence, atonic dyspepsia, diarrhoea, and cholera. It is used most frequently in con-junction with asafoetida, myrobalans and rocksalt. Ajowan is also effective in relaxed sore throat and in bronchitis, and often constitutes an ingredient of cough mixture.


Ajowan oil is used as an antiseptic, aromatic, carminative, for perfuming disinfectant soaps, and as an insecticide. The oil is useful as an expectorant in emphysema, bronchial pneumonia and some other respiratory ailments.

Marketed Products


It is one of the ingredients of the preparation known as Aptikid (Lubin Herbal Laboratory).

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