encyclopedia

Caraway Seeds

Scientific Names:    

Carum carci L. [Fam. Umbelliferae]    
    
 
Forms:    

Volatile oil extract of the seeds of the caraway species.    
    
 
Traditional Usage:    

– Anesthetic (local, topically – essential oil)
– Antiseptic (essential oil)
– Antispasmodic (essential oil)
– Appetite Loss
– Breast Milk Stimulant
– Breath Freshener
– Bronchitis
– CNS-Stimulant (essential oil)
– Colds
– Colic
– Coughs
– Digestive Upsets
– Distension
– Fever
– Flatulence
– Gall Bladder Cleansing
– Gastrointestinal Upsets
– Intestinal Worms (essential oil)
– Liver Cleansing
– Local Anesthetic (essential oil)
– Menstrual Disorders
– Pain Relief (topically – essential oil)
– Toothache (essential oil)
– Worms (essential oil)     
     
    
Overview:    

Caraway, Carum carci L. [Fam. Umbelliferae], is native to Europe but is now also cultivated in the Near East, Siberia, the Himalayas, Mongolia, Morocco and North America. The plant grows to a height of up to one meter and sprouts small white to pale pink flowers. The seeds are often used in cooking as a spice, while the oil is primarily used for medicinal purposes. The seeds are also popular in traditional cough syrups and cold remedies. The essential oil content of the seeds is most abundant just before the fruit ripens. Caraway oil is used to treat stomach disorders, as it is both a stimulant and carminative. It is especially helpful in relieving colic in infants. In folk medicine, caraway was believed to improve lactation in nursing mothers, induce menstruation, relieve toothache, sweeten bad breath, and improve digestion, although it has not been proven as a treatment for these conditions. Essential oils act primarily as spasmolytics, carminatives and local anesthetics. Carvone, the main constituent of caraway essential oil, is also classified as an antiseptic, central nervous system stimulant (CNS-stimulant), insecticide and vermicide (dewormer). Several controlled studies have shown combination products with caraway oil (with peppermint oil, curcuma extract, ginger extract, etc.) to be superior compared to placebo and as effective as conventional drugs in treating dyspepsia. A study to assess the efficacy and safety of enteric coated capsules containing a combination of 50 mg caraway oil and 90 mg peppermint oil in patients with functional dyspepsia found that patients were much or very much improved in several parameters after one month, to a statistically significant level. In 96 outpatients taking one capsule twice daily of this combination or placebo, overall pain, pressure, heaviness and fullness were reduced by 40-43% in the treatment group compared to only 22% with placebo.    
   
     
Active Ingredients:    

Caraway seeds contain: Essential oil with (S)-(+)-carvone as main odoriferous component; (R)-(+)-limonene and other terpenes including x- and b-pinene, sabinene, car-3-ene, isomers of dihydrocarvone, dihydrocarveol, and carveol; fixed oil; and flavonoids.
 
Caraway seeds, raw (Proximates per 100 grams of edible portion) contain: Water 9.9g; Protein 19.8g; Total lipid (fat) 14.6g; Carbohydrate, by difference 49.9g; Fiber, total dietary 38.0g; Ash 5.9g; Minerals: Calcium, 689mg; Iron, 16.2mg; Magnesium, 258mg; Phosphorus, 568mg; Potassium, 1351mg; Sodium 17mg; Zinc, 5.5mg; Copper, 0.9mg; Manganese, 1.3mg; Selenium, 12.1mcg; Vitamins: Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid 21.0mg; Thiamin 0.4mg; Riboflavin 0.4mg; Niacin 3.6mg; Vitamin B-6 0.3mg; Folate, total (food) 10mcg; Vitamin A, 363 IU; Vitamin A, RE 36mcg; Vitamin E (ate) 2.5mg. Phytosterols 76mg. Lipids: Fatty acids, total saturated 0.62g; Total monounsaturated 7.1g; total polyunsaturated 3.3g; Amino acids. USDA Nutrient Database for Standard
Reference, Release 14 (July 2001)  
    
     
Suggested Amount:    

The dosage for caraway seed given as a medicinal tea is as follows: Pour (150 ml) of boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of freshly crushed caraway seeds and steep 10-15 minutes, then strain. Drink the warm infusion two to four times a day in between meals. For infants and small children, one teaspoon is given two to four times daily. Caraway seed oil can be given with the dosage of 2 to 3 drops on a sugar cube. Do not exceed 6 drops per day. Caraway Seeds can also be consumed directly with a daily dosage range of 1 to 5 grams. Do not exceed 6 grams per day. 1 teaspoon = 3.5 g.    
    
     
Drug Interactions:    

None known.    
     
    
Contraindications:    

None known.    
    
     
Side Effects:    

Large doses of caraway oil taken over long periods may damage the kidneys or liver.    
      
     
References:    

Duke JA. 1992a. Handbook of Biologically Active Phytochemicals and their Activities. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, p. 25.
 
Duke JA. 1992b. Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS Herbs and Other Economic Plants. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp. 140-141.
 
May B, Kohler S, Schneider B. 2000. Efficacy and tolerability of a fixed combination of peppermint oil and caraway oil in patients suffering from functional dyspepsia. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2000 Dec; 14(12): 1671-7.
 
Saller R, Iten F, Reichling J. 2001. [Dyspepsia and phytotherapy – a review of traditional and modern herbal drugs]. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2001 Oct; 8(5): 263-73. German.
 
Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Uvae ursi folium – Uva ursi leaf. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 510-512.