What is a Cumin?
Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family. The cumin plant grows to 30–50 cm (12–20 in) tall and is harvested by hand. It is an annual herbaceous plant, with a slender, glabrous, branched stem that is 20–30 cm (8–12 in) tall and has a diameter of 3–5 cm (1 1⁄4–2 in). Each branch has two to three subbranches. All the branches attain the same height, so the plant has a uniform canopy. The stem is colored grey or dark green. The leaves are 5–10 cm (2–4 in) long, pinnate or bi-pinnate, with thread-like leaflets.
The flowers are small, white or pink, and borne in umbels. Each umbel has five to seven umbellts. The fruit is a lateral fusiform or ovoid achene 4–5 mm (1⁄6–1⁄5 in) long, containing two mericarps with a single seed. Cumin seeds have eight ridges with oil canals. They resemble caraway seeds, being oblong in shape, longitudinally ridged, and yellow-brown in colour, like other members of the Apiaceae (Umbelliferae) family such as caraway, parsley, and dill.
Cumin is a good source of energy, vitamin A, C, E and B6, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and minerals like iron, manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. It has many health benefits which includes heart health, aids in digestion, skin care, boosts immunity among others.
History of Cumin
Likely originating in a region of the Eastern Mediterranean called the Levant, cumin has been in use as a spice for thousands of years. Seeds excavated at the Syrian site Tell ed-Der were dated to the second millennium BC. They have also been reported from several New Kingdom levels of ancient Egyptian archaeological sites. In the ancient Egyptian civilization, cumin was used as spice and as preservative in mummification.
The ancient Greeks kept cumin at the dining table in its own container (much as pepper is frequently kept today), and this practice continues in Morocco. Cumin was also used heavily in ancient Roman cuisine. In India, it has been used for millennia as a traditional ingredient in innumerable recipes, and forms the basis of many other spice blends.
Cumin was introduced to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese colonists. Several different types of cumin are known, but the most famous ones are black and green cumin, both of which are used in Persian cuisine. Today, the plant is mostly grown in Southern Asia, Northern Africa, Mexico, Chile, and China. Since cumin is often used as part of birdseed and exported to many countries, the plant can occur as an introduced species in many territories.
Types Of Cumin
Iranian cumin comes from the Khorasan province, and is mostly black seed cumin. While the United States historically imported its cumin supply mostly from Iran; ever since the Islamic Revolution, America has stopped importing cumin from the nation. It is also known as the caraway plant.
India produces and consumes the most cumin in the world, and is similar in taste and aroma to Iranian cumin. Indian cumin has an essential oil content, between 3 and 5 percent, and is brown in color.
Middle Eastern cumin, originating in Pakistan, Syria and Turkey, differs in flavor and aroma from Indian and Iranian cumin. It has an essential oil content between 3 and 5 percent.
White and Black Cumin
Aside from regional differences, cumin seeds come in two varieties: white and black. Most cuisines use white cumin seeds, but black cumin seeds are found in Persian dishes and are sweeter in aroma.
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Uses of Cumin
For its distinctive flavor and fragrance, cumin as seeds, ground cumin, or cumin oil, is used in various ways;
Culinary Uses: Cumin is traditionally used as a spice in Indian cooking, either as whole seeds or in powdered form. It is a major component in the preparation of curries, stews, soups and other food products.
Personal Care Product: Derived from cumin seeds, cumin essential oil is used as a scent in cosmetics including creams, perfumes, and lotions.
Flavoring Agent: It is used to add flavor to alcoholic beverages and desserts.
Medicinal Uses: Cumin seeds are used to produce medicines that help in treating problems like diarrhea, colic, inflammation, bowel and muscle spasms, and gas.
Aphrodisiac: When ground cumin is mixed with honey and pepper, it works as an aphrodisiac. This concoction is widely popular amongst Arabs.
Cumin is an excellent source of iron, manganese, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B1. Other vitamins present in it include thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, C, E, K, and vitamin B6. Cumin contains minerals such as copper, zinc, and potassium. It is also rich in protein, amino acids, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and a reasonable amount of fats and fatty acids. It is very low in saturated fats, sodium, and cholesterol. Consuming about one teaspoon of cumin daily can help you meet your daily nutrient requirements.
In a 100-g reference amount, cumin seeds provide high amounts of the Daily Value for fat (especially monounsaturated fat), protein, and dietary fiber (table). B vitamins, vitamin E, and several dietary minerals, especially iron, magnesium, and manganese, are present in substantial Daily Value amounts (table). Cumin seeds contain petroselinic acid.
Nutritional Facts of Cumin
(Note: “–” indicates data unavailable)
|GI: very low|
|BASIC MACRONUTRIENTS AND CALORIES|
|Fat – total||0.94 g||1|
|Dietary Fiber||0.44 g||2|
|MACRONUTRIENT AND CALORIE DETAIL|
|Total Sugars||0.09 g|
|Soluble Fiber||— g|
|Insoluble Fiber||— g|
|Other Carbohydrates||1.32 g|
|Monounsaturated Fat||0.59 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||0.14 g|
|Saturated Fat||0.06 g|
|Trans Fat||0.00 g|
|Calories from Fat||8.42|
|Calories from Saturated Fat||0.58|
|Calories from Trans Fat||0.00|
|Vitamin B1||0.03 mg||3|
|Vitamin B2||0.01 mg||1|
|Vitamin B3||0.19 mg||1|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin Equivalents)||0.19 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.02 mg||1|
|Vitamin B12||0.00 mcg||0|
|Folate (DFE)||0.42 mcg|
|Folate (food)||0.42 mcg|
|Pantothenic Acid||— mg||—|
|Vitamin C||0.32 mg||0|
|Vitamin A (Retinoids and Carotenoids)|
|Vitamin A International Units (IU)||53.34 IU|
|Vitamin A mcg Retinol Activity Equivalents (RAE)||2.67 mcg (RAE)||0|
|Vitamin A mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE)||5.33 mcg (RE)|
|Retinol mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE)||0.00 mcg (RE)|
|Carotenoid mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE)||5.33 mcg (RE)|
|Beta-Carotene Equivalents||32.00 mcg|
|Lutein and Zeaxanthin||18.82 mcg|
|Vitamin D International Units (IU)||0.00 IU||0|
|Vitamin D mcg||0.00 mcg|
|Vitamin E mg Alpha-Tocopherol Equivalents (ATE)||0.14 mg (ATE)||1|
|Vitamin E International Units (IU)||0.21 IU|
|Vitamin E mg||0.14 mg|
|Vitamin K||0.23 mcg||0|
|INDIVIDUAL FATTY ACIDS|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids||0.01 g||0|
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids||0.13 g|
|14:1 Myristoleic||0.00 g|
|15:1 Pentadecenoic||0.00 g|
|16:1 Palmitol||0.01 g|
|17:1 Heptadecenoic||0.00 g|
|18:1 Oleic||0.57 g|
|20:1 Eicosenoic||0.01 g|
|22:1 Erucic||0.00 g|
|24:1 Nervonic||0.00 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids|
|18:2 Linoleic||0.13 g|
|18:2 Conjugated Linoleic (CLA)||— g|
|18:3 Linolenic||0.01 g|
|18:4 Stearidonic||0.00 g|
|20:3 Eicosatrienoic||0.00 g|
|20:4 Arachidonic||0.00 g|
|20:5 Eicosapentaenoic (EPA)||0.00 g|
|22:5 Docosapentaenoic (DPA)||0.00 g|
|22:6 Docosahexaenoic (DHA)||0.00 g|
|Saturated Fatty Acids|
|4:0 Butyric||0.00 g|
|6:0 Caproic||0.00 g|
|8:0 Caprylic||0.00 g|
|10:0 Capric||0.00 g|
|12:0 Lauric||0.00 g|
|14:0 Myristic||0.00 g|
|15:0 Pentadecanoic||0.00 g|
|16:0 Palmitic||0.05 g|
|17:0 Margaric||0.00 g|
|18:0 Stearic||0.01 g|
|20:0 Arachidic||0.00 g|
|22:0 Behenate||0.00 g|
|24:0 Lignoceric||0.00 g|
|INDIVIDUAL AMINO ACIDS|
|Aspartic Acid||— g|
|Glutamic Acid||— g|
|Organic Acids (Total)||— g|
|Acetic Acid||— g|
|Citric Acid||— g|
|Lactic Acid||— g|
|Malic Acid||— g|
|Sugar Alcohols (Total)||— g|
|Artificial Sweeteners (Total)||— mg|
Amount Per 100 grams
- Calories 375
- Fat 22 g – 33% RDA
- Cholesterol 0 mg
- Sodium 168 mg – 7% RDA
- Potassium 1,788 mg – 51% RDA
- Carbohydrate 44 g – 14% RDA
- Dietary fiber 11 g – 44% RDA
- Sugar 2.3 g
- Protein 18 g 36% RDA
- Vitamin A 25% RDA
- Vitamin C 12% RDA
- Calcium 93% RDA
- Iron 368% RDA
- Vitamin B-6 20% RDA
- Magnesium 91% RDA
Is a Rich Source of Iron
Cumin seeds are naturally rich in iron. One teaspoon of ground cumin contains 1.4 mg of iron, or 17.5% of the RDI for adults. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies, affecting up to 20% of the world’s population and up to 10 in 1,000 people in the wealthiest nations. In particular, children need iron to support growth and young women need iron to replace blood lost during menstruation. Few foods are as iron-dense as cumin. This makes it a good iron source, even when used in small amounts as a seasoning.
Health Benefits of Cumin
1. Aids in Digestion
Cumin has cuminaldehyde which gives it aroma and activates the salivary glands in the mouth, which facilitates the primary digestion of food. Cumin also contains thymol which stimulates the glands that secrete acids, bile, and enzymes responsible for complete digestion of the food in the stomach and intestines.
Cumin also contains essential oils, magnesium and sodium which promotes digestion and also gives relief from stomachaches when taken with hot water.
2. Cures hemorrhoids
The main cause of hemorrhoids is constipation added with infections in the wound in the anal tract. Cumin has dietary fiber content, and carminative, stimulating, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties, acts as a natural laxative in powdered form.These characteristics are due to the presence of essential oils comprised mainly of cuminaldehyde and certain pyrazines.
3. Skin Care
Cumin has vitamin E which acts as an antioxidant which free radicals that attack the skin and result in signs of premature aging like wrinkles, age spots, and sagging skin.neutralizes The essential oils present in cumin have disinfectant and anti fungal properties. This prevents any microbial and fungal infection from affecting the skin.
4.Helps detox the body
Cumin contains cuminaldehyde, thymol and phosphorus which are detoxifying agents which help in the regular removal of toxins from the body.
Narcotic dependence is a growing concern internationally. Opioid narcotics create addiction by hijacking the normal sense of craving and reward in the brain. This leads to continued or increased use. Studies in mice have shown that cumin components reduce addictive behavior and withdrawal symptoms. However, much more research is needed to determine whether this effect would be useful in humans. The next steps include finding the specific ingredient that caused this effect and testing whether it works in humans.
5. Boosts Immunity
Cumin has nutrients such as iron, essential oils, Vitamin C and A which helps boost immunity. Vitamin C is an antioxidant which stimulates the function and activity of white blood cells. Vitamin C also neutralizes the effects of free radicals that are harmful to the body.
6. Reduces Cancer Risk
Cumin has detoxifying and chemo-preventive properties, and accelerates the secretion of detoxifying and anti-carcinogenic enzymes from the glands. Cumin also has Vitamin C and A which are antioxidants which neutralizes free radicals.
7. Brain Health
Cumin has iron which aids in hemoglobin production which increases blood circulation which ensures adequate amounts of oxygen are able to reach the organs and the brain, leading to an optimal performance of those bodily systems. The Proper amount of oxygen and iron in the brain lead to increased cognitive performance and a decrease in cognitive disorders like
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
8. Prevents Anemia
Cumin is very rich in iron (more than 66 mg. in every 100 grams) which is more than 5 times the daily requirement of iron for an adult. This iron is the main constituent of hemoglobin in the red blood corpuscles. It is hemoglobin which transfers oxygen (as the oxide of iron) to the body cells and whose deficiency causes anemia.
Cumin help ease and increase secretion of milk in lactating women due to the presence of thymol, which tends to increase the secretions from our glands, including milk, which is a secretion from the mammary glands. Cumin is rich in iron and thus very good for lactating mothers or pregnant women, as well as for women who are undergoing menses. Moreover, cumin is said to help ease and increase secretion of milk in lactating women due to the presence of thymol.
Cumin has a remarkable amount of calcium (more than 900 mg per 100 grams) which accounts for over 90% of our daily requirement of calcium. This calcium is an important constituent of milk and hence cumin is very good for lactating mothers. Also, cumin is more beneficial if taken with honey.
10. Fights Common Cold
The essential oils in cumin act as disinfectants and help fight viral infections which can cause the common cold. Cumin also suppresses the development of coughing in the respiratory system since it dries up the excess mucus. Cumin is rich in iron and has a considerable amount of vitamin C, which is essential for a healthy immune system and keeps infections from forming or becoming worse.
11. Contains Beneficial Plant Compounds
Cumin contains lots of plant compounds that are linked with potential health benefits, including terpenes, phenols, flavonoids and alkaloids. Several of these function as antioxidants, which are chemicals that reduce damage to your body from free radicals. Free radicals are basically lonely electrons. Electrons like being in pairs and when they split up, they become unstable.
These lone, or “free” electrons steal other electron partners away from other chemicals in your body. This process is called “oxidation.” The oxidation of fatty acids in your arteries leads to clogged arteries and heart disease. Oxidation also leads to inflammation in diabetes, and the oxidation of DNA can contribute to cancer. Antioxidants like those in cumin give an electron to a lonely free radical electron, making it more stable.
12. Help With Diabetes
Some of cumin’s components have shown promise helping to treat diabetes. One clinical study showed a concentrated cumin supplement improved early indicators of diabetes in overweight individuals, compared to a placebo. Cumin also contains components that counter some of the long-term effects of diabetes. One of the ways diabetes harms cells in the body is through advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
They’re produced spontaneously in the bloodstream when blood sugar levels are high over long periods of time, as they are in diabetes. AGEs are created when sugars attach to proteins and disrupt their normal function. AGEs are likely responsible for damage to eyes, kidneys, nerves and small blood vessels in diabetes. Cumin contains several components that reduce AGEs, at least in test-tube studies.
While these studies tested the effects of concentrated cumin supplements, routinely using cumin as a seasoning may help control blood sugar in diabetes. It is not yet clear what is responsible for these effects, or how much cumin is needed to cause benefits.
13. Improve Blood Cholesterol
Cumin has also improved blood cholesterol in clinical studies. In one study, 75 mg of cumin taken twice daily for eight weeks decreased unhealthy blood triglycerides. In another study, levels of oxidized “bad” LDL cholesterol were decreased by nearly 10% in patients taking cumin extract over one and a half months.
One study of 88 women looked at whether cumin affected levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. Those who took 3 grams of cumin with yogurt twice a day for three months had higher levels of HDL than those who ate yogurt without it. It is not known if cumin used as seasoning in the diet has the same blood cholesterol benefits as the supplements used in these studies. Also, not all studies agree on this effect. One study found no changes in blood cholesterol in participants who took a cumin supplement.
14. Promote Weight Loss and Fat Reduction
Concentrated cumin supplements have helped promote weight loss in a few clinical studies. One study of 88 overweight women found that yogurt containing 3 grams of cumin promoted weight loss, compared to yogurt without it. Another study showed that participants who took 75 mg of cumin supplements every day lost 3 pounds (1.4 kg) more than those who took a placebo. A third clinical study looked at the effects of a concentrated cumin supplement in 78 adult men and women. Those who took the supplement lost 2.2 pounds (1 kg) more over eight weeks than those who did not. Again, not all studies agree. One study that used a smaller dose of 25 mg per day did not see any change in body weight, compared to a placebo.
15. Prevent Food-Borne Illnesses
One of cumin’s traditional roles in seasoning may have been for food safety. Many seasonings, including cumin, appear to have antimicrobial properties that may reduce the risk of food-borne infections. Several components of cumin reduce the growth of food-borne bacteria and certain kinds of infectious fungi. When digested, cumin releases a component called megalomicin, which has antibiotic properties. Additionally, a test-tube study showed that cumin reduces the drug resistance of certain bacteria.
16. May Fight Inflammation
Test-tube studies have shown cumin extracts inhibit inflammation. There are several components of cumin that may have anti-inflammatory effects, but researchers don’t yet know which are most important. Plant compounds in several spices have been shown to reduce levels of a key inflammation marker, NF-kappa B. There is not enough information right now to know whether cumin in the diet or cumin supplements are useful in treating inflammatory diseases.
17. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Cumin is highly effective in improving all symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) such as cramps, nausea, bloating, gas, and digestive spasms.
18. Treats Diarrhea
Traditionally, cumin has been used as a potent anti-diarrhoeal drug. It helps in giving relief from severe diarrhea.
19. Cures Piles
Cumin aids in clearing up all the symptoms and causes of piles (hemorrhoids). Adding it to your diet also helps in healing infections in the digestive and excretory system and speeds up digestion as well. This is due to the presence of dietary fiber content, and carminative, stimulating, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties in cumin that enables it to act as a natural laxative in a powdered form.
20. Treats Boils
Regular use of cumin in food also helps in preventing boils, rashes, pimples, and other signs of excess toxic content. Components such as cuminaldehyde, thymol, and phosphorus are good detoxifying agents which help in the regular removal of toxins from the body. The healthy way of removing toxins is through the excretory system, not through boils.
21. Treats Insomnia
Cumin is a stimulant as well as a relaxant at the same time. Some of the components of cumin essential oil are hypnotic in nature and have tranquilizing effects, which also help relieve stress and anxiety that commonly cause insomnia.
22. Treats Asthma & Bronchitis
The presence of caffeine (a stimulating agent), and the richly aromatic essential oils (the disinfectants) make cumin an ideal anti-congestive combination for those suffering from respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis. It acts as an expectorant, meaning that it loosens up the accumulated phlegm and mucus in the respiratory tracts, and makes it easier to eliminate them from the system via sneezing or coughing up and spitting. By eliminating as much of the mucus and phlegm as possible, it can inhibit the formation of additional material and help heal the initial condition that led to its formation in the first place.
How to Select and Store
Whenever possible, buy whole cumin seeds instead of cumin powder since the latter loses its flavor more quickly, and the seeds can be easily ground with a mortar and pestle. Even through dried herbs and spices are widely available in supermarkets, explore the local spice stores or ethnic markets in your area. Oftentimes, these stores feature an expansive selection of dried herbs and spices that are of superior quality and freshness compared to those offered in regular markets.
Just like with other dried spices, try to select organically grown dried cumin since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated. Cumin seeds and cumin powder should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place. Ground cumin will keep for about six months, while the whole seeds will stay fresh for about one year.
Tips for Preparing and Cooking Cumin
To bring out the fullness of their aroma and flavor, lightly roast whole cumin seeds before using them in a recipe.
Quick Serving Ideas
- The combination of cumin, black pepper and honey is considered to be an aphrodisiac in certain middle Eastern countries.
- Whether or not this potion will actually inspire Cupid’s arrows, it is certainly a tasty combination that can be used to flavor vegetables, chicken and fish dishes.
- Make a cup of warming and soothing cumin tea by boiling seeds in water and then letting them steep for 8-10 minutes.
- As the taste of cumin is a great complement to the hearty flavor of legumes such as lentils, garbanzo beans and black beans, add this spice when preparing a recipe with these foods.
- Take plain brown rice and magically give it special pizzazz by adding cumin seeds, dried apricots and almonds.
- Seasoning healthy sautéed vegetables with cumin will give them a North African flair.
Curried Cumin Potatoes
- 2 pounds new potatoes, cut into
- 1/4 inch thick pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cumin seed
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Prep Cook Ready In
15 m 20 m 35 m
- Place whole potatoes into a saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook until just tender. Drain, and cut potatoes into quarters. Set aside to keep warm.
- Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Saute the cumin, turmeric, and curry powder for 1 minute. Add potatoes, and saute until toasted. Toss potatoes with sea salt, pepper and fresh cilantro, and serve hot.
Negative Effects Of Cumin
Imagining an Indian kitchen without cumin seeds is next to impossible! Indian recipes of all kinds use cumin for its distinctive flavor.Cumin seed is a culinary herb that is native to Asia. Cumin seeds are also known as jeera, caraway, kummel, krishnajraka roman cumin, kala jeera, shahi jeera, semences de carvi, haravi and apium carvi.
It is in fact a fruit of cumin herb, but it forms seeds once it has dried. Cumin is a valued spice as it has many medical benefits, mainly for digestive conditions like colic, dyspepsia and flatulence. However, consuming cumin seed can have many side effects too, so consult your doctor before you use it for medical purposes.
Cumin seeds are known for their gas relieving properties, but ironically it can also cause one of the most common digestive problems, heartburn! The book “Pocket Guide to Herbal Medicine,” says that cumin seeds facilitate the eviction of more gas into your gastrointestinal tract.
The carminative effect of cumin seed may also cause excessive belching. Sometimes belching is referred as a ructus or burping, which involves excess bloating and gas from the intestinal tract and stomach escaping through the mouth. Belching has sometimes a bad odor and characteristic sound. Though not a problem in the real sense of it, belching can definitely lead to embarrassment!
3. Liver Damage
Oil present in cuin seed are highly volatile and can cause liver and kidney damage if one consumes cumin seed in large amount for a long period of time. Cumin oil is used for animals to prevent or alleviate muscle spasms.
4. Abortifacient Effects
Cumin seeds may have an abortifacient effect on pregnant women. This means that consuming large amounts of cumin seeds can lead to a miscarriage or induce premature labor.
5. Narcotic Effects
Cumin seed has narcotic properties. Cumin seeds should be consumed with caution as it can become addictive. Other side effects of cumin seed are mental clouding, drowsiness and nausea.
6. Heavy Menstrual Cycle
Cumin seeds may lead to heavy bleeding during menstruation. If cumin seeds are consumed in large amounts, then you can blame your heavier than usual periods on them!
7. Low Blood Sugar Level
Consuming cumin seeds in large amounts can lower the blood sugar level in the body. This point is important to remember if you are heading for a surgery on the near future. During surgery it is essential to maintain the blood sugar level. So your doctor may advice you to stop eating cumin seeds at least 2 weeks before surgery as your blood sugar level need to be controlled during and after surgery.
8. Not Good For Diabetics
Diabetes patients need to control their blood sugar level. They should have normal blood sugar level to remain healthy. Fluctuating blood sugar levels are a strict no no for most diabetics. As mentioned before, cumin seeds may decrease your blood sugar level quickly and can cause low blood sugar level. So, people with diabetes should avoid consuming cumin seeds and if they must consume them then moderation is the key.
9. Causes Allergy
Consumption of cumin seeds can also cause skin rashes and allergy. So people with skin allergy should consume cumin seeds in low amounts, if they must.
Other Side Effects Of Cumin
- Hypoglycemia: Cumin may lower blood sugar levels in some people so diabetics should keep a check. Also, avoid use if undergoing a surgery as it may affect the blood sugar levels.
- Blood clotting: Cumin may slow blood clotting process, therefore, people with bleeding disorders should avoid its intake.
- Heartburn and liver damage: Excess intake of cumin may cause heartburn, kidney and liver damage due to the presence of highly volatile oil.
- Infertility and miscarriage: Cumin suppresses testosterone levels and may reduce fertility in men. Also, avoid use during pregnancy as it may trigger miscarriage.