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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Caroway
(Carum carvi)
[zang hui xiang]

Large doses of the oil taken over long periods of time can cause kidney or liver damage.

CONTAINS: SEED = Carvone (present in 40 to 60% of the volatile oil [mucous membrane irritant]), essential oil, fixed oil, polysaccarides, cacium oxalate, carlinene, acetaldehyde, acetylinic compound, arvene, carveol, diacetyl, dihydrocarveol, dihydrocarvone, dihydropinal, falcarindione, isohydrocarveol, limonen, linoleic acid, oleic acid, petroselinic acid, coumarins, resin, methyl alcohol, monoterpenes, neohydrocarveol, tannin, thymol.
PER 100 GRAMS = 9.9% water, 19.8 g protein, 14.6 g fat, 49.9 g total carbohydrate, 12.6 g fiber, 5.9 g ash, 689 mg calcium, 568 mg phosphorus, 16.2 mg iron, 258 mg magnesium, 17 mg sodium, 1,351 mg K, 5.5 mg zinc, 363 IU vitamin A, 383 mg thiamine, 0.379 mg riboflavin, 3.61 mg niacin, 76 mg phytosterols.
Contains PROTEOLYTICS, substances which break down proteins. Other plants known for their proteolytic activity are figs, ginger, papaya, and pineapple.

A feathery leaved biennial to 2 feet, native to north and central Europe, which presents a rosette of finely dissected, bipinnate leaves with short stems in the first year and an angular, hollow stem the second year topped by a plate-like cluster of white to yellowish flowers up to five inches across. Fruit is small and bursts open when the 2 seeds within are ripe, each being crescent shaped and with 5 distinct ridges. Root is tapered and spindly, resembling a parsnip, fleshy, yellowish outside, whitish inside with a carrot-like flavor. Cultivated as a crop in England, Holland, Germany and Morocco.

Caraway has a history of at least 5000 years of use as a seasoning and digestive aid and was mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus dating to 1500 BC. It was once considered so valuable by 6th century Persians that they paid their taxes with bags of seeds. Ann Boleyn was reputed to have given Henry the VIII caraway seed comfits to alleviate his indigestion at dinner.It must have been considerable, since he imbibed quite a bit of Aqua Compositis, a wine made from Caraway which should have had the same effect.

Astrologically ruled by Mercury.

PROPAGATION: By SEED (germinates in 10 to 14 days) in soil temp of 65 to 70ºF. Best sown in situ (do not transplant well) and in the fall (will produce seed the following year). Biennial.
NEEDS: Good garden spot in full sun with well-draining light soil. DO NOT PLANT NEAR FENNEL! Thin to 8 inches apart. There is now an annual variety of caraway available (1997). Hardy to the lower limits of zone 3. Do not let dry out.
FLOWERS: July to September
HARVEST: Seeds. When the seed is ripe, but before the capsule bursts, cut the stalks and place in a paper bag. Hang upside down and the seeds will fall naturally in the bag when fully ripe. Store in air-tight jar out of direct light. 6 lbs. seeds yields roughly 4 oz of essential oil.
PART USED: Mainly seeds, but also leaves, roots, and oil.
YAMPA (Carum gairdneri): The nutty flavored roots were eaten raw, cooked, and preserved for winter by Native Americans situated west of the Rocky Mountains. The cooked roots are said to resemble carrots in flavor. Used most notably by tribes along the Snake (Yampah) River.
EPPAW (C. oreganum): Native to the Oregon region of the United States, the roots were eaten fresh or preserved dry.
C. kelloggii: The roots were eaten in a manner similar to C. gairdneri and also used for pinole by Native Americans of California.


Aromatic, pungent, expectorant, antispasmodic, appetizer, carminative, emmenagogue, galactogogue, astringent, anti-microbial, stimulant; affects stomach, colon, and lungs. Has been used to improve the taste of children's medicine and added to other remedies that include bitter herbs that can cause nausea.
Has been used to reduce gastro-intestinal and uterine spasms.
Aid to digestion. Has been used for appetite loss, indigestion, flatulence, colic, infant colic, hiatus hernia, stomach ulcer, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, bronchitis, bronchial asthma, fever, liver and gall bladder problems, sore thoat, wound with tendency to infection, menstrual pain. The seeds both plain and sugar-coated (comfit) have been chewed for indigestion or digestive aid as well as for bad breath. Has been added to laxative remedies and commercial laxative products to prevent griping. The cordial and the distilled water from the seeds have also been used for indigestion.
An infusion of the seeds has been used for colic (infusion taken 1 tsp at bedtime); another method has been to mix a small amount of powdered seed with a tsp of sugar in a wine glass of hot water. For infant colic an infusion has been made by placing seeds in cold water for six hours; it was then strained and given in 1 to 3 tsp doses every hour. Also employed have been 1 to 2 drops of the extract in formula for 2 feedings (under pediatric advice only), OR rubbing a single drop of the oil on the abdomen of the infant until it was absorbed.
Has been used to increase milk flow in lactating mothers (2 cups tea daily).
Has been used as a gargle for laryngitis; an infusion of the tea for coughs, bronchitis, ashtma, colds and as a preventative for shortness of breath with physical exertion.
The powdered seeds have been used as a poultice for bruises. Also bruised seeds which have been simmered for awhile have been used on swellings of the breasts and testicles.
A tea made of slippery elm bark with a few caraway seeds has been taken both before and after chemo therapy to allay nausea.
For high blood pressure Caraway seeds have been combined with equal parts Fennel, Anise, and Yarrow, plus 2 parts of Chamomile and Peppermint leaves in infusion form (1 tsp of the mixed placed in 1/2 cup boiling water and taken 1 to 1½ cups daily, a mouthful at a time).
A blood cleansing formulation has been to combine 4 parts Caraway with 4 parts German Chamomile, 1 part Anise and 8 parts American Senna (a highly laxative combination).
A combination tea for flatulence has been 4 parts Caraway, 3 parts Fennel, 3 parts Anise; 1 tsp of the combined crushed seeds added to 1 cup of water just off the boil and steeped 10 minutes.

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
GRAINS = 30 to 60
SEEDS = Chewed 3 to 4 times daily; no more than 6 grams daily
POWDER = 1/4 to 1 tsp at a time, 2 to 3 times daily
INFUSION = 1 tsp crushed seeds in 1 cup of water; taken 3 times daily; OR, seeds soaked overnight in cold water and taken in frequent 2 tbsp doses until relief obtained.
DECOCTION = 1 tsp seeds to 1/2 cup water. Boil briefly then steep, covered, for 10 minutes and strain; taken 1 to 1½ cups daily, one mouthful at a time. Alternately, 3 tsp seeds in 1/2 cup milk, boiling briefly then steeping for 10 minutes.
TINCTURE = 1 to 2 ml, 3 times daily.
EXTRACT = 3 to 4 drops in liquid, 3 to 4 times daily
OIL = 3 to 4 drops on a sugar cube, 3 times daily

An old recipe for mange is to place 1/4 tsp of seeds in 4 tsp of castor oil and 1/4 tsp alcohol.
Has been used in combination with other herbs for indigestion in cows.

NOTE: Long term cooking can make caraway bitter; the seeds are best added no more than 30 minutes before the dish is done.
Seeds a well known addition to breads, particularly rye, and in the black caraway bread of Norway and Sweden. Well known seasoning in north and eastern Europe to flavor cakes, goulash, cabbage, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, split pea soups, applesauce, cheese, cream soups, cooked apples, sauerkraut, beets, spinach, potatoes, snap beans, peas, cauliflower, turnips, zucchini, French dressing, barley, oats, pork, fish and liqueur and spirits such as Kümmel and a Scandinavian brandy known as Schnapps.
Roots can be eaten similar to parsnip: steamed, pureed, also chopped as used in stews and soups, as well as sliced thinly and eaten raw.
Crushed seeds have been sprinkled over popcorn.
Roots can be boiled, mixed with milk and added to bread recipes.
Young leaves are used in soups & salads; mature leaves boiled with vegetables.
The Romans ate the spring leaves as a pot herb and made Chara (a bread) from the roots.
The Roman method of preparing new potatoes was to combine 1 tsp Caraway seeds, 1/4 cup butter, 1 cup white wine, 1 cup sour cream, and 1 Tbsp fresh parsley minced in the following manner: Caraway seeds were sauteed in the butter, then the wine was added and brought to a boil and allowed to simmer uncovered for 5 minutes; gradually, the sour cream was added 1 Tbsp at a time, stirring constantly; the parsley was added and the sauce poured over 10 boiled or baked potatoes.
SCOTCH CROWDIE was a popular dish of the 16th century. 2 quarts of sour milk were heated slowly over a low heat until it separated (it was not allowed to boil); the liquid was then strained off and the solid curds seasoned with caraway seeds, salt and pepper, then placed into a muslin bag or cheese bag to press out the extra moisture and chilled for 3 days before serving.
A flavoring of Scandinavian Aquavit.
Can be substituted with anise seeds ground with a small amount of toasted sesame seeds.

The crushed seeds are added to potpourri.

Ladies of the 14th century used a cordial form of Caraway to smooth wrinkles and rough skin.
Caraway (mainly the oil) is used commercially in soaps, perfumery, and mouthwashes.

The seed oil is used as a commercial flavoring and in perfumery.
Historically an herb of weddings used both in the wedding feast and rained on the bride and groom for good luck in the belief the couple would remain faithful and not separate.
An old superstition regarding Caraway was that adding the seed to their food keeps homing pigeons and pigs from straying (as well as husbands and lovers). Seeds were also mingled with personal possessions to prevent theft.
Caraway was once used as a love potion.
Used in Earth religion rituals to consecrate religious tools; also personal possessions; used for ritual cleansing.


©2000 & 2005 by Ernestina Parziale, CH