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CarawayCaraway

Caraway

Carum carvi

Parts used medicinally: Leaves, roots, seeds and oil.

What is Caraway?

Caraway is a pungent digestive herb. It has been used in the middle east for over 5,000 years and arrived into Europe in the 13th century. The leaves, roots, seeds and oil of the caraway plant is used as a medicine and food, where the seeds are particularly popular in bread and cake baking.

Modern day research has supported its traditional uses and today it is used for a huge variety of ailments from bacterial & fungal infections to obesity, gastrointestinal spasms and stress.

Botany

The caraway plant is in the Apiaceae family and is similar in appearance to other members of this family including carrots. It can grow to 2 feet in height and has disc-shaped umbels, which are made up of many tiny pale flowers held on short flower stalks. The seeds are harvested once the flowers have died and the seed pods are tan to light brown. The seeds must be completely dried before storage and will keep in an airtight container for a year.

Medicinal Value

The 16th century herbalist John Gerard wrote "caraway consumeth wind and is delightful to the stomache". Today caraway is best known as a medicine for the stomach. As an aromatic warming digestive it is used to soothe a variety of stomach upsets including heartburn, flatulence and diarrhoea. It has shown to be particularly useful in reducing spasms and has shown anti-colitic activity in recent research , making it a useful therapeutic agent for those suffering with pain and discomforting colitis or IBD (Irritable bowel syndrome). It is traditional in some cultures to chew on caraway seeds after dinner to promote digestive health.

Caraway is also rich in antioxidants and has shown to be protective of the brain and liver. Some researchers have suggested it even shows adaptogenic and nootropic (cognitive enhancer) activities making it beneficial in combating stress induced disorders.

Traditionally caraway has been used in treating obesity - modern research has supported this and found it is of value in the management of obesity in women wishing to lower their weight, BMI, body fat percentage, and body size.

Alongside its use in relieving digestive spasms and pain it is also used internally to relieve urinary and uterine spasms and topically as an analgesic for toothache.

Finally caraway seeds has shown antiseptic and antibacterial activities against a wide range of bacterial and fungal pathogens and is helpful at relieving colds, congestion and bronchitis, encouraging a productive cough.

Ways to Use Caraway at Home?

  • Chew the seeds to sweeten the breath.
  • Infuse the seeds as a tea in boiling water to aid digestion and stimulate appetite.
  • Use the young fresh leaves fresh in salads.
  • The root can be cooked as a vegetable, by steaming or roasting.
  • Use the seeds in baking bread (notably rye bread) and cakes. Caraway seeds have a mild aniseed flavour.
  • Gargle a caraway infusion to soothe laryngitis.

Cautions

Do not take in high doses if suffering with kidney or liver problems because of the content of the volatile oils

Caraway - Carum carvi

Did You Know?

Caraway is the ingredient that gives sauerkraut its distinctive flavour, and the german liqueur kummel contains oil of caraway together with cumin.

If you are pregnant/breastfeeding or on drug medication, be sure to consult with a professional before trying these remedies.

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