Carum carvi L,belonging to the Umbelliferae family, is a biennial herb with a second-year stem up to about 0.75 meters high. It is native to Europe and western Asia and naturalized in North America. It is widely cultivated. A colourless to pale yellow essential oil is produced through steam distillation from the dried ripe fruits which contain between 2 — 8% volatile oil. The essential oil consists of around 50% carvone, about 40% limoneneand minor amounts of carveol, dihydrocarveol, dihydrocarvone, thujone, pinene, phellandrene, a-thujene, b-fenchene and others. Concentration of the components will vary depending on the degree of ripeness of the fruit.
Caraway is generally considered to have carminative and stomachic properties. It has been reported to exhibit antibacterial activities in vitro as well as larvicidal properties. It also has antispasmodic and antihistaminic activities on isolated animal organs. Caraway has a spicy, celery-like odor and blends well with aniseed, basil, jasmine, cinnamon, cassia and other spices. It is very odoriferous so use sparingly.
It is used in some carminative, stomachic and laxative preparations. It is also used as a flavoring component in pharmaceuticals. It is also used as a fragrance component in cosmetic preparations including toothpaste, mouthwash, soaps, creams, lotions and perfumes. Caraway is widely used as a domestic spice and used extensively in commercial food products. In traditional medicine it is reportedly used as an antispasmodic, carminative, expectorant and stomachic for dyspepsia, incontinence and indigestion.
Psychologically, Caraway has been used as a nerve tonic and eases mental strain and fatigue.
On the physiological level caraway has been used for acne, itchy scalp problems, scabies, cellulite, cough and laryngitis colic. It is also helpful for digestive complaints.
Contraindications:. Generally considered non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing. It is a moderate mucous membrane irritant.
Leung and Foster, Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients, John Wiley & Sons, 1996
Beverley Hawkins Aromatherapy 201 Course 1999 revised 2000…..2010