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Caraway

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  • Botanical: Carum carvi
  • Family: Apiaceae
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Caraway

Botanical

Carum carvi

Family

Apiaceae

Known as

Caraway, Carum carvi, meridian fennel, Persian cumin, Kümmel, Kuemmel,

Old Use

culinary; medicinal

Collection Times

July to August

Parts Used

leaves, roots, seed

Aroma

sharp, spicy

Medicinal

abdominal pain, anorexia, asthma, bronchitis, bowel cleansing, bladder weakness, bronchitis, coughs, cramps stomach, digestion, flatulence, rheumatism, sore throat, toothache, stomach cramps

Hormone & Sexual Organs

gynecological issues

Muscle & Joints

rheumatism

Mind & Nerves

anorexia

Respiratory System

bronchitis, cough, difficulty breathing

Stomach & Intestinal

abdominal pain, bowel cleansing, digestion, stomach pain

Properties

antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, digestive, emmenagogue, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic, tonic, vermifuge

Note

middle

Extraction

steam distillation

Description

It is a biennial, with smooth, furrowed stems growing 1 1/2 to 2 feet high, hearing finely cut leaves, and umbels of white flowers which blossom in June. The fruitswhich are popularly and incorrectly called seeds - and which correspond in general character to those of the other plants of this large family, are laterally compressed, somewhat horny and translucent, slightly curved, and marked with five distinct, pale ridges.

They evolve a pleasant, aromatic odour when bruised, and have an agreeable taste. 

The leaves possess similar properties and afford an oil identical with that of the fruit. The tender leaves in spring have been boiled in soup, to give it an aromatic flavour.

Properties & Uses

araway has a long history of use as a household remedy especially in the treatment of digestive complaints where its antispasmodic action soothes the digestive tract and its carminative action relieves bloating caused by wind and improves the appetite. It is often added to laxative medicines to prevent griping. The seed is antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, digestive, emmenagogue, expectorant, galactogogue and stimulant. It can be chewed raw for the almost immediate relief of indigestion and can also be made into infusions. The seed is also used in the treatment of bronchitis and are an ingredient of cough remedies, especially useful for children. The seed is also said to increase the production of breast milk in nursing mothers. The seed is harvested when fully ripe, then dried and stored in a cool, dry place out of the sunlight. The essential oil can be extracted from the seed and has similar properties. A tea made from the seeds is a pleasant stomachic and carminative, it has been used to treat flatulent colic. The seed is used in Tibetan medicine where it is considered to have an acrid taste and a heating potency. It is used to treat failing vision and loss of appetite. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Carum carvi for dyspeptic complaints.

Other Uses

An essential oil from the seed is used in perfumery, for scenting soap, as a parasiticide etc. Twenty-five kilos of seed yield about 1 kilo of essential oil. The essential oil yield of the seed from plants cultivated in Poland is up to 10.33%

Cautions

Caraway is said to contain the alleged 'psychotroph' myristicine. Excessive intake can lead to kidney and liver damage

Distribution

Europe. Rarely naturalized in Britain. Perhaps native in S.E. England

Constituents

The seeds contain from 4 to 7 per cent of volatile oil, according to the variety of Caraway fruit from which obtained that distilled from home-grown fruits being considered the best. Caraway grown in more northerly latitudes is richer in essential oil than that grown in southern regions, and if grown in full sun a greater percentage and a richer oil is obtained.

The oil is distilled chiefly from Dutch, Norwegian and Russian fruits. The Dutch are small and dark brown in colour. English fruits, of which only a small quantity is produced, are of a brighter tint.

The chief constituent of the oil is a hydrocarbon termed Carvene, also found in oils of Dill and Cumin, and an oxygenated oil Carvol, a mobile liquid (isomeric with the menthol of Spearmint).