13 Amazing Health Benefits Of Dill Weed, Seed, And Dried Weed
Health Benefits Of Dill
Dill leaves and seeds have been used in traditional medicine. Dill can aid in digestion by enhancing the movement of food in the gastrointestinal tract, fight infections and oxidative damage, lower cholesterol, increase insulin sensitivity, and even fight cancer. It's particularly good for women as it can reduce menstrual pain and irregularity, tackle PCOS symptoms, and promote lactation.
If you have ever wondered whether the dill you use to flavor pickles or dress salads is good for your health, yes it is. Dill is basically of two types: European dill (Anethum graveolens) and Indian dill (Anethum sowa). The herb, commonly known as weed, seed, and even the dried weed of dill come packed with nutrients and have been used medicinally in cultures around the world to cure jaundice, headache, boils, lack of appetite, stomach problems, nausea, and liver problems, to name a few. Preliminary research, mostly on European dill, can now back some of these benefits.
While a comprehensive analysis of the components of Indian and European dill is not available yet, some nutritional differences are known to exist between the two. For instance, the European variety is richer in carvone, while the Indian variety is richer in apiole.
Before we discuss the health benefits of dill, here’s a look at the nutrients you get in standard servings of the various edible parts of dill.1 2 3 While the amounts may seem minuscule because the serving size is small, even a spoonful of dill could contribute significantly to your recommended daily intake of certain nutrients like calcium and vitamin A.
|Nutrient||Fresh dill sprigs
(1 cup/8.9 g)
(1 tablespoon/6.6 g)
|Dried dill weed
(1 tablespoon/3.1 g)
|Calorie||4 Cal||20 Cal||8 Cal|
|Fiber||0.2 g (negligible DV)||1.4 g (5% DV)||0.4 g (1% DV)|
|Protein||0.31 g (negligible DV)||1.05 g (2% DV)||0.62 g (1% DV)|
|Vitamin A||34 RAE (13% DV)||NA||9 RAE (3% DV)|
|Vitamin B6||0.016 (negligible DV)||0.017 mg (negligible DV)||0.053 mg (5% DV)|
|Vitamin B9, Folate||13 mcg (3.25% DV)||1 mcg (negligible DV)||NA|
|Vitamin C||7.6 mg (12% DV)||1.4 mg (2% DV)||1.6 mg (2% Dv)|
|Calcium||19 mg (1% DV)||100 mg (10% DV)||55 mg (5% DV)|
|Iron||0.59 mg (3% DV)||1.08 mg (6% DV)||1.51 mg (8% DV)|
|Magnesium||5 mg (1% DV)||17 mg (4% DV)||14 mg (3% DV)|
|Potassium||66 mg (1% DV)||78 mg (2% Dv)||103 mg (2% Dv)|
|Phosphorus||6 mg (negligible DV)||18 mg (2.5% DV)||17 mg (2.4% DV)|
Dill also has two types of antioxidants: monoterpenes, including carvone, limonene, and anethofuran, and flavonoids, including kaempferol, quercetin, and Isorhamnetin, which offer myriad health benefits. Here are the health benefits of dill:
1. Improves Digestion
Dill can also work as a mouth freshener. Being a carminative, it can tackle bad breath caused by indigestion and GERD.
Legend has it that King Charlemagne kept a crystal vial of dill on his banquet table to soothe symptoms of indigestion, especially hiccups, due to overindulgence.4 Ayurveda too has used dill seeds as a carminative to relieve flatulence, as a stomachic to aid digestion and boost appetite, and as a diuretic to increase urine production. Dill is used as an ingredient in gripe water to relieve colic pain in babies and flatulence in young kids.5 The fruit can reduce spasms in the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract in mice models. The essential oils present in dill have a stimulating effect on the digestive system. It supposedly aids in peristalsis, a wave like motion that helps in the passage of food down the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Belonging to the same Apiaceae family as coriander and fennel, dill may even help ease constipation. Both the fresh weed and the seeds can be used to make a tea to soothe the stomach. You may also add a few drops of dill essential oil in herbal teas or soups.
2. Protects The Stomach Lining
The study used dill seed extracts in water and ethanol. The water extract was more powerful than the ethanol extract. While a dill seed tea may not be as powerful as the concentrated extract, it might still have a soothing effect on the stomach.
Besides aiding digestion, dill also has a protective effect on the stomach. In an animal study, mice with gastric lesions caused by hydrocholic acid (HCL which is also our stomach acid) and ethanol were given dill seed extracts. The extracts were found to inhibit the secretion of HCL, reduce stomach acidity, and prevent the formation of ulcers. These effects could be attributed to terpenes and flavonoids in dill which fight free radicals and protect the gastric lining.6 The seed extract is also moderately active against Helicobacter pylori, a common gut bacteria that can worsen gastritis and even lead to gastric cancer.7
While further research is required, dill seems promising for patients of gastritis, peptic ulcer, or GERD who have a damaged gastric lining or high stomach acidity and for people who have a high alcohol consumption. Because of its soothing property, dill leaf and stem powder has also been successfully used in a small-scale study to manage symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome without any side effects.8 You could use either the fresh or the dried weed.
3. Relieves Pain And Makes Periods Regular
Dill has been traditionally used for feminine problems like dysmenorrhea or painful periods. Research finds that this could be attributed to a chemical called apiole, which is a known emmenagogue or menstruation inducer. In one study, a group of female participants aged between 18 and 28 years were given 1000 mg dill seed powder for 5 days, starting 2 days before the beginning of menstruation, for 2 cycles. Another group was given 250 mg mefenamic acid, a common drug for menstrual pain relief. Thanks to the presence of tannin and anethol, which relax blood vessels, dill was seen to have comparable effect as the drug in reducing pain.9
Indian dill or shatapushpa may be even better because of a higher apiole content. It is routinely used in ayurveda to treat menstrual disorders and is even identified as a ritu-pravartini or initiator of the menstrual cycle. In a 3-month study on women with irregular, scanty, and painful period, 5 g shatapushpa churna (powder) taken with ghee twice daily improved the symptoms significantly. After 3 months, 20% of the participants noted maximum improvement, while 60% noted moderate improvement.10 Shatapushpa taila (oil) taken as basti is also known to improve similar symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome.11
Make sure you do not use dill, especially Indian dill, during pregnancy. Because of its apiole content, it has been traditionally used as a contraceptive.
Dill can also regularize menstrual cycles in women, thanks to the flavonoids which stimulate female hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. A preliminary study on female rats found that dill seed extract can change cycle lengths. While more extensive studies are required, researchers consider it useful for women with irregular cycles. Dill also proved to be a good anti-fertility agent that does not cause painful side effects often seen with other such agents.12 13
4. Can Reduce Labor Pain
Because of its pain-relieving property, dill can also reduce the duration of labor pain and of the active phase in the first stage of labor. This is why it is used in Iran to induce labor in term pregnancies. In a study, would-be mothers who had dill seed tea experienced pain for about 4.2 hours, while those who did not experienced pain for about 6 hours. Despite the shortening of the labor period, labor was seen to be more advanced in the dill group.14 Dill seed tea may be more effective than oxytocin, a standard medicine for labor induction.15
5. May Enhance Breast Milk Production
Dill belongs to the same family as fennel, which is a known galactagogue that enhances breast milk production. Though no clinical trial has been conducted to establish this benefit, dill, along with caraway, fennel, and anise, has been traditionally used to boost milk supply.16 Incidentally, in an animal study, the water extract of dill leaves and seed helped increase the size of the milk-producing gland, which indicates that it may be used as a galactagogue.17 That said, it’s always wise to check with your doctor about the usage of dill during breastfeeding if you have a history or risk of breast cancer or other estrogen-dependent cancers since it can affect the estrogen balance.
6. Protects Against Oxidative Damage
Dill weed has antioxidants, such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin, and kaempferol, that help it fight free radicals. Free radicals are reactive chemicals generated in the body during natural metabolic processes as well as due to exposure to environmental toxins. These oxidize cell walls and damage DNA and cell proteins, leading to a number of inflammatory conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. The ORAC value or oxygen radical absorbance capacity of fresh dill is a moderate 4,392 μ mol TE/100g, which, however, is more than that of fennel and even vitamin C.18 The monoterpenes in dill activate the antioxidant enzyme glutathione-S-transferase, which in turn helps glutathione bind to free radicals and render them inactive. This is what also makes dill a cancer preventive, as we discuss in the last section.
7. Helps Fight Infections
You already know that dill is a common home remedy for gastrointestinal disturbances and infections. In one study, dill leaves could help treat giardiasis in children in just 5 days, as effectively as the standard drug metronidazole.19 Researchers attribute the antimicrobial property of dill to a chemical called furanocoumarin.20 The essential oil derived from dill seeds and various types of seed extracts are also effective against several disease-causing bacterial strains, including Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, and Salmonella typhii.21
The essential oil of the seed is especially effective against the fungus Candida albicans. It damages the cell wall of the fungus, inducing apoptosis or programmed cell death. In a study on immunosuppressed mice with vaginal candidiasis, dill seed essential oil could hasten the clearing up of the infection.22 This is promising because candidiasis or yeast infection is a common opportunistic infection in people with compromised immunity. You may mix a couple drops of the essential oil in virgin coconut oil and apply on the affected area.
8. Lowers Total Cholesterol
Among the many uses of dill in traditional medicine, one important use is to lower cholesterol. The leaves are used in Iran as an anti-hypercholesterolemic. Studies show mixed results. In a study on mice with damaged liver, dill was found to lower the elevated levels of liver enzymes, bilirubin, triglycerides, and liver cholesterol. It also increased the total antioxidant capacity of the liver.23 A healthy liver makes for balanced cholesterol levels. But the effect was not so marked in small-scale clinical trials. In a clinical trial on patients with high cholesterol levels, at a high dose, dill tablets were more effective than gemfibrozil, a standard hypolipidemic drug, in reducing total cholesterol (by up to 18% as opposed to gemfibrozil’s 9.41%) but not as effective in lowering triglyceride levels and raising HDL cholesterol. However, it had no reported side effects, while patients receiving gemfibrozil reported gastrointestinal disturbances.24
In another study on patients of metabolic syndrome, a water and ethanol-based extract of dill leaves and stems reduced triglyceride levels significantly but not other markers of metabolic syndrome, such as waist circumference, fasting blood glucose, and blood pressure.25
If you want to lower your lipid levels naturally, dill can help to some extent, thanks to the antioxidants in it, but you should not depend on it alone. Have other antioxidant-rich foods like ginger, garlic, and turmeric and exercise well.
9. Prevents And Fights Type 2 Diabetes
Dill has also been used in Asian traditional medicine to lower blood glucose, and with some reason. It works by increasing the antioxidative capacity of the body and modifying certain genes involved in glucose and fat metabolism. In a study, type 2 diabetes patients who were given 3.3 g of dill powder (made by drying the fresh weed) daily for 8 weeks had lowered blood levels of insulin and total and LDL cholesterol. However, dill did not seem to bring about significant change in the blood glucose levels or HDL and triglyceride levels.26 If you have dill regularly, it can prevent insulin resistance which often precedes full-blown diabetes.
Diabetes is now recognized as an inflammatory condition that is both caused and aggravated by inflammation. Thanks to its antioxidants, dill can also lower the inflammation accompanying diabetes. In a study, just 8 weeks of supplementation with 3.3 g of dill powder from the leaf and stem saw a marked drop in inflammatory proteins in the blood.27
The dose used in this study is well within the dietary limit of 1 tablespoon or 6.6 g, so it can be easily incorporated into your diet. You would require even less if you combine it with aerobic training. In a study, diabetic women who took 900 mg dill a day along with 55-minute aerobic sessions thrice every week saw a significant rise in HDL cholesterol and decrease in fasting blood glucose as well as LDL-to-HDL ratio.28 However, if you are under medication for diabetes, consult your doctor first.
10. May Tackle Depression
The word dill is derived from the Norse word dilla, which means to lull or soothe. It is known to have a calming effect, possibly because of its antioxidant flavonoids, other polyphenols, and tannins. Dill may even help you battle depression. In a rat study, the water extract of dill weed was as effective in reducing depression and pain as two standard drugs, sertraline and tramadol, but without side effects.29
11. May Treat Epilepsy
Preliminary studies on animal models of epilepsy have shown that water extract of dill leaves can delay the onset of seizures and reduce the duration of each episode. Researchers attribute this to terpenoids such as carvone and limonene, which block inflammatory mediators that trigger seizures.30 While dill shows promise as an alternative for standard anticonvulsant drugs which have multiple side effects, clinical trials are required to understand its effect in human patients.
12. May Improve Sleep
Traditionally, dill has been used as a sedative. While no studies have been conducted on the sleep-inducing effects of dill, it has been part of home remedies for sleeplessness. Some cultures stuff dill leaves into the pillow for restful sleep. In Holland, dill is mixed with milk to induce sleep. You may boil 1 tablespoon of dill seeds or a spoonful of freshly chopped dill leaves to make a calming tea before bed. Dill essential oil can also be mixed with other calming essential oils like lavendar and valerian in an infuser for a good night’s sleep.
13. May Prevent Cancer
While dill itself has not been studied for its efficacy in preventing cancer, researchers feel it has potential. Carvone and anethofuran in dill can increase the removal of toxins from the body by almost doubling the glutathione-s-transferase enzyme in the liver as well as in other parts of the GI tract. GST is a major detoxifying enzyme that helps attach glutathione to free radicals. Since glutathione is vital in maintaining the oxidation balance within cells and in protecting cells against free radical damage, elevated levels of both glutathione and GST mean stronger protection against toxins, including carcinogens.31 In fact, scientists have synthesized a compound called glaziovianin A (GVA) using a precursor from dill and parsley seeds. GVA was then used on melanoma cancer cells in an in vitro study, where it arrested the growth of the cancer cells without damaging the surrounding normal cells.32
The standard serving of dill is 1 tablespoon of the seed and dried weed to a cup of fresh sprigs. Sprinkle some dill into your soups and salads to reap all the benefits of this wonder weed. Needless to say, skip the weed if you are allergic to any other member of its family, such as fennel, caraway, and anise seeds.
References [ + ]
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Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.