Caraway - Carum carvi Caraway - Carum carvi

Herb: Caraway

Latin name: Carum carvi

Synonyms: Apium carvi

Family: Umbelliferae

Medicinal use of Caraway:

Caraway 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.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

to July


Habitat of the herb:

Moist meadows, arable land and waste places from lowland to mountain elevations.

Edible parts of Caraway:

Seed - raw or cooked. A spicy flavour, it is used as a flavouring in confectionery and bread, also as a flavouring in salads, vegetables etc. It is high in protein and fat. The seed is often chewed after a meal in order to sweeten the breath and also to relieve heartburn after a rich meal. Per 100g, the seed contains 333 calories, 10g water, 20g protein, 14.5g fat, 50g carbohydrate, 12.5g fibre, 6g ash, 689mg calcium, 568mg phosphorus, 16.2mg iron, 258mg magnesium, 17mg sodium, 1351mg potassium, 5.5mg zinc, 363 IU vitamin A, 0.383mg thiamine, 0.379mg riboflavin, 3.61mg niacin. An essential oil from the seed is used as a flavouring in ice creams, candy, soft drinks etc. It is an essential ingredient of the liqueur kümmel. Root - cooked. Used as a vegetable like parsnips. Stronger in taste than parsnips, but liked by many. A delicious vegetable. Leaves - raw or as a flavouring in soups etc. The young leaves are much less spicy than the seeds and are a good salad, having a mild parsley-dill flavour. They give an aromatic tang to salads. Older leaves can be cooked as a spinach. The crushed seeds are brewed into a tea. It has a soothing effect on the digestion.

Other uses of the herb:

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%.

Propagation of Caraway:

Seed - it is best sown in situ as soon as it is ripe in late summer and early autumn. The seed can also be sown March/April in situ, though in areas with cool summers the plants might not produce a crop of ripe seeds. Plants are very sensitive to root disturbance and should not be transplanted.

Cultivation of the herb:

Moist meadows, arable land and waste places from lowland to mountain elevations.

Known hazards of Carum carvi:

Caraway is said to contain the alleged 'psychotroph' myristicine.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.