Caraway seeds

Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Prof. Dr. med. Martina Bacharach-Buhles

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Last updated on: 07.03.2024

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Black Cumin; Caraway (engl.); carum carvi; carum carvum; Meadow cumin

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Originally native to Asia, now established worldwide, biennial, 30-60 cm high plant from the umbelliferae family (Apiaceae) with a beet-like root. Caraway is of great importance both as a spice and as a natural medicine (see phytotherapy). The leaves are two- to three-pinnate. Its flower is white to pink. The flowering period extends from May to July. Caraway seed is 0.3-0.7 cm and somewhat crescent-shaped curved.

Phytotherapeutically used are ripe fruits (caraway - Carvi fructus) and the essential oil(Carvi aetheroleum). The commercially available drug comes from cultures in Holland, Poland and Egypt.

Caraway is used to make schnapps (aquavit) and liqueurs.

Caraway is the parent plant of Carvi fructus, the officinal extract from caraway fruits according to DAB9,OAB90.

Carum carvi extract(INCI) the extract from the seeds is used in cosmetic preparations.

Carum carvi seed oil (INCI) a fatty oil (caraway oil) is used in cosmetic preparations as an emollient. It is also used as a spicy edible oil.

Field of application/use
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Caraway contains essential oils (obtained by pressing the seeds) of which carvone and limonene are the main components. The main odor component is carvone.

Caraway stimulates the appetite, helps with cramps, colic and flatulence, has an anti-inflammatory effect and apparently also relieves pain.

Caraway oil is used topically for atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.

Black cumin oilcan also be used in ointments (50% caraway oil content); combinations with marigold extracts are also marketed.

Undesirable effects
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Allergic reactions to caraway are very rare (see caraway allergy below). Systemic reactions(urticaria, bronchial asthma) have been reported in a few isolated cases.

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The fixed combination peppermint leaves+camomile flowers+caraway seeds consists of:

has an antispasmodic effect and is used for dyspeptic complaints such as flatulence, bloating and cramps in the gastrointestinal tract.

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  2. Wenigmann M. (2017) Phytotherapy medicinal drugs, phytopharmaceuticals, application. Urban & Fischer, pp. 142-143