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Caraway

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What other names is Caraway known by?

Alcaravea, Anis Canadien, Anis des Prés, Anis des Vosges, Apium carvi, Carraway, Carum carvi, Carum velenovskyi, Carvi, Carvi Commun, Carvi Fructus, Cumin des Montagnes, Cumin des Prés, Faux Anis, Haravi, Jeera, Jira, Kala Jira, Karwiya, Krishan Jeeraka, Krishnajiraka, Kummel, Kummich, Roman Cumin, Semen Cumini Pratensis, Semences de Carvi, Shahijra, Shiajira, Wiesen-Feldkummel, Wild Cumin.

What is Caraway?

Caraway is a plant that has an interesting place in legend. Superstitions held that caraway had the power to prevent the theft of any object that contained the seed and to keep lovers from losing interest in one another. These days, some people think caraway has healing power, and they use the oil, fruit, and seeds as medicine.

Caraway is used for digestive problems including heartburn, bloating, gas, loss of appetite, and mild spasms of the stomach and intestines. Caraway oil is also used to help people cough up phlegm, improve control of urination, kill bacteria in the body, and relieve constipation.

Women use caraway oil to start menstruation and relieve menstrual cramps; nursing mothers use it to increase the flow of breast milk.

Caraway is used in mouthwashes and in skin rubs to improve local blood flow.

In foods, caraway is used as a cooking spice.

In manufacturing, caraway oil is used to flavor certain medications. It is also commonly used as a fragrance in toothpaste, soap, and cosmetics.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Heartburn, when used in combination with other herbs. Taking caraway oil as part of a specific combination with peppermint oil (Enteroplant, Spitzner Arzneimittel) seems to relieve heartburn, including symptoms of fullness and mild gastrointestinal (GI) spasms, about as well as a drug called cisapride. This peppermint oil/caraway oil combination is not available in the US. Another combination product that contains caraway plus clown's mustard plant, peppermint leaf, German chamomile, licorice, milk thistle, angelica, celandine, and lemon balm (Iberogast, Medical Futures, Inc) also seems to improve symptoms of upset stomach. This combination seems to significantly help acid stomach, cramping, nausea, and vomiting.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Asthma. Early research suggests that drinking tea containing chamomile, saffron, anise, fennel, caraway, licorice, cardamom, and black seed twice daily for 6 months reduces symptoms of allergic asthma, including sleep discomfort and coughing.
  • Poor appetite.
  • Constipation.
  • Gas.
  • Bloating.
  • Spasms of stomach and intestines.
  • Menstrual cramps.
  • Poor blood flow.
  • Infection.
  • Starting menstruation.
  • Increasing milk flow in nursing mothers.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of caraway for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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