ונותנין עליה איספלנית וכמון. “we place on it (the milah wound) bandages and cumin.”
Cumin, Cuminum cyminum, is an plant in the parsley family grown for its seedlike fruit. Cumin is often used as a spice and is an essential component in curry powder and chili powder it is also added to fragrances, and used in medical preparations. Its fruit, known as cumin seed, is yellow to brownish-gray in color and is elongated in shape. Cumin has numerous medicinal properties. It is an aromatic herb and an astringent that benefits the digestive apparatus. It has been used in the treatment of mild digestive disorders as a carminative and eupeptic, as an astringent in broncopulmonary disorders, and as a cough remedy, as well as an analgesic.
Cumin has a number of assicated health benefits, including aiding the digestive system. Because of its antibacterial qualitites, black cuming was used in the treatment of open wounds as an antiseptic. The gemora (קלד.) mentions that the cumin placed on the milah was ground. We find elsewhere the use of cumin for similar medical purposes. The gemora Shabbos 110a also mentions a mixture of cumin, beer or wine (and other ingredients) for a bleeding woman.
Numerous studies have been made to show what the gemora already knew, that cumin is a great healing food. [see: D.N. Patil, A.R. Kulkarni, A.A. Shahapurkar and B.C. Hatappakki, 2009. Natural Cumin Seeds for Wound Healing Activity in Albino Rats.International Journal of Biological Chemistry, 3: 148-152. Effect of subinhibitory concentrations of cumin (Cuminum cyminum L.) seed essential oil and alcoholic extract on the morphology, capsule expression and urease activity of Klebsiella pneumoniae. Derakhshan S, Sattari M, Bigdeli M Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2008 Nov; 32(5):432-6.]
Cumin is no longer used by a bris milah, instead a polydine solution is often used.