Herbs


Bishop's Weed

Botanical Nam: Trachyspermum amni

Family: Umbelliferae

Hindi Name: Ajwain

Bishop's weed, or goutweed, is indigenous to Eastern countries of the Mediterranean region, and Egypt.

It is now being cultivated on a massive scale in the Middle East and India. It is an aggressive groundcover that spreads by rhizomes, and provides a dense canopy of foliage, 6-12 inches in height.

Small white flowers are produced in umbels similar in form to Queen Ann's lace, but are not as showy. The stems of the plant have many branches. The feather-like leaves are about 2.5 cms long. Each flowerhead bears about 6-12 flowers, and the fruits are tiny, egg-shaped and grayish. The most utilised part of bishop's weed is the small, caraway-like fruits that have the essential oil being dominated by thymol.

Its composition is as follows:

  • Protein: 15.4 %
  • Fat: 18.1 %
  • Fibre: 11.9 %
  • Carbohydrates: 38.6 %
  • Ash: 7.1 %
  • Calcium: 1.4 %
  • Phosphorus: 0.3 %
  • Iron: 14.6 mg/100g

The oil is a rich source of petroselenic acid, which is used as a base in the manufacture of certain chemicals. The oil is almost colourless to a light brown colour. It has a sharp acrid taste and a characteristic odour. The strong aroma is enhanced by roasting or frying, and goes well with potatoes or fish.

Bishop's weed, or ajwain is much used as a medicinal plant in ayurvedic medicine in India. Mainly, it helps against diseases of the digestive tract and fever. It is useful in counteracting spasmodic disorders. It is also useful in cholera, diarrhoea, flatulent colic and atonic dyspepsia. It is effective against respiratory and mouth disorders. It eases migraine and rheumatic pains, and is beneficial in earache and common cold.

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