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Caraway

Caraway
© Sertürner Bildarchiv

Botanical name

(True) Caraway- Carum carvi L.

Family

Umbel family (Apiaceae)

Useful information about the plant

The biennial caraway is scattered in the wild all over Europe and Asia, it is cultivated for its use as a spice in Holland, East Germany, Poland and Egypt. The genus name comes from the Greek "karon" (= seed), derived from Greek "kara" (= head, umbel) or from the Greek "kar" (= louse), because of the lice-like appearance. In the first year, from seed, it only grows one rosette, in the second years the 2 to 3 fold pinnate leaves with narrow leaflets grow out of an up to 1m tall, branched stem. It blossoms from May to July with numerous small white to pink coloured flowers arranged in the 8 to 16 rayed umbels. The fruits are brown when ripe, 3-6mm long with 5 bright, angular protruding ribs. It is like all Umbelliferae with "double achenes" which easily fall open even before autumn into the two fruits (achenes).

Medicinally used plant parts (drug)

The ripe fruits with their typical caraway scent are used, the aroma is clearly perceived when rubbed and is created by the essential oil contained in the fruit. The commercially available drug comes from farms in the Netherlands, Poland and Egypt.

Ingredients of the drug

Caraway fruits contain an essential oil ("caraway seed oil") with mainly D-carvone and limonene. D-carvone is responsible for the characteristic aroma.

Descriptions of the quality

The quality of the following drugs or drug preparations is specified in the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.):

  • Caraway (Carvi fructus)
  • Caraway oil (Carvi aetheroleum)

Medical Application

Recognised medical use

Internally for dyspeptic complaints such as mild, spasmodic gastric-intestinal complaints, bloating and flatulence (Commission E). The ESCOP extends the area of use of caraway to the treatment of flatulent colic in children and Roemheld syndrome.

Traditional use

Caraway alone or in combination to support digestive function (traditional use acc. to § 109a).

Medicinal herbal preparations in finished drug products

  • Dried extract in tablets
  • Caraway oil in enteric-coated capsules or liquids
Caraway is also often processed combined with other similar-acting drugs or essential oils.

Dosage

Prepared drugs: see package insert;
Tea infusion: drink 1 cup of warm Caraway tea several times a day.
Caraway oil: take 3 - 5 drops on a lump of sugar or water several times daily. To rub on the abdomen 10% solution in olive oil or another oil.

Preparation of a tea infusion

Pour 150ml of hot water over 1 to 5g of fresh crushed caraway (do not boil!), let it stand for 10 to 15 min then strain. To enhance the effectiveness, the caraway should be crushed just before preparing the tea or powdered coarsely so that the essential oil can get into the tea. Prepare the tea for children (4-10 years) with 1 to 4g of the drug and with 1 to 2g for infants (1-4 years).

Advice

Cumin preparations must be avoided with existing allergies to Umbelliferae (Apiaceae). Long-term ingestion of cumin oil may lead to liver and kidney damage.

Side effects

None known

Interactions

None known

References

Drug monographs

Commission E, ESCOP

Further reading

Wichtl: Teedrogen und Phytopharmaka, pg. 81
Schilcher: Leitfaden Phytotherapie, pg. 151
Van Wyk: Handbuch der Arzneipflanzen, pg. 82
Kommentar zum Europäischen Arzneibuch (Caraway, no. 1080; Caraway oil, no 1817)

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