Caraway (Carum carvi)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
1,8-Cineol, 2,4(10)-thujadien, 2-methoxy-2-(4'-hydroxyphenyl)ethanol, 2-methyl-3-phenyl-propanal, 5-methoxypsoralen, abscisic acid, acetaldehyde, alanine, alcaravea (Spanish), alcarávia (Portuguese), almindelig kommen (Danish), alpha-linolenic acid, alpha-phellandrene, alpha-pinene, alpha-terpinene, alpha-terpineol, aluminum, anethofuran, anis des Vosges (French), anethole, Apiaceae (family), Apium carvi, arabinose, arginine, ash, aspartic acid, astragalin, beta-carotene, beta-caryophyllene, beta-myrcene, beta-phellandrene, beta-pinene, beta-sitosterol, cadinene, caffeic acid, calcium, calcium oxalate, campesterol, camphene, capric acid, caraway fruit, caraway oil, caraway seed, carbohydrates, carum, Carum carui, Carum carvi, carvacrol, carvene, carveol, carvi (French, Italian), Carvi fructus, carvol, carvone, (-)-carvone, (+)-carvone, carvone glucosides, chaman (Armenian), chlorine, chromium, cis-beta-ocimene, cis-dihydrocarvone, citronellol, cobalt, cominho (Portuguese), comino (Italian), comino de prado (Spanish), comino tedesco (Italian), copper, cravya tarbutit (Hebrew), cumin de montagne (French), cumin des prés (French), cumino (Italian), cumino dei prati (Italian), cumino tedesco (Italian), cystine, d-carvone, decan-1-al, decanal, delta-3-carene, diacetyl, dihydrocarveol, dihydrocarvone, D-limonene, dikii anis (Ukrainian), donsk kumman (Faroese), (e)-beta-ocimene, echter Kümmel (German), eicosanoic acid, Enteroplant®, essential oil, estragol, falcarindiol, falcarinone, fat, faux anis (French), faux cumin (French - Morocco), Feldkümmel (German), fiber, fixed oil, fucose, frenk kimyonu (Turkish), furfural, furocoumarins (5-methoxypsoralen and 8-methoxypsoralen), galactose, gamma-terpinene, geranial, germacrene D, geranyl diphosphate, gemeiner Kümmel (German), glucose, glucosides, glutamic acid, glycine, hakiki kimyon (Turkish), harilik köömen (Estonian), harissa, herniarin, hime uikyou (Japanese), hinojo de prade (Spanish), histidine, hyperoside, Iberogast®, IG, iron, isorhammetin glycosides, isoleucine, isoquercitrin, jintan (Malay), junipediol A 2-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, kaalaa jiiraa (Hindi), kaempferol 3-glucoside, kaerowei (Korean), karaman kimyonu (Turkish), karauy (Arabic), karavi (Sanskrit), karawy (Arabic - Egypt), karo (Greek), karoya (Persian), karve (Danish), karven (Swedish), karvi (Greek, Norwegian), karving (Norwegian), karwei (Afrikaans), karwij (Dutch), karwijzaad (Dutch), kim (Bulgarian, Croatian, Serbian), kimel (Hebrew), kimmel (Hebrew), kmin (Ukrainian), kmín kořenný (Czech), kminek (Polish), kminek zwyczajny (Polish), kmyn zvichainii (Ukrainian), kömény (Hungarian), kommel (Swedish), kommen (Danish, Swedish), kømming (Norwegian), konyha (Hungarian), kravyah (cravya) (Hebrew), kravyah tarbutit (Hebrew), krydd (Norwegian), kúmen (Icelandic), kumin (Swedish), kumina (Finnish), kummil (Swedish), kummin (Swedish), kumming (Swedish), Kümmel (German), kummel (French), kvliavi (Georgian), kyarauei (Japanese), lauric acid, leucine, L-fucitol, lignin, (-)-limonene, (+)-limonene, limonene, limonene-6-hydroxylase, linalool, linoleic acid, lysine, magnesium, manganese, mannose, methanol, methionine, monoterpene hydrocarbons, monoterpene synthase, monoterpenes, monoterpenoids, monounsaturated fatty acid, myrcene, myristic acid, myristicin, navadna kumina (Slovenian), niacin, nickel, n-octanal, oleic acid, oleoresins, oxygenated monoterpenes, palmitic acid, palmitoleic acid, p-coumaric acid, p-cymene, Persian cumin, petroselinic acid, perillaldehyde, phenylalanine, phosphorus, phytosterol, polyacetylene, polysaccharides, polyunsaturated fat, potassium, proline, proteins, qimel (Hebrew), quercetin, quercetin 3-glucuronide, resin, rhamnose, riboflavin, Roman cumin, sabinene, salicylate, saturated fatty acid, saksan kumina (Finnish), S-(+)-carvone, scopoletin, seme di carvi (seeds) (Italian), semen cumini pratensis, semences de carvi (French), serine, shah jira (siyah jira) (Hindi), silicon, sodium, starch, stearic acid, stigmasterol, STW 5-II, sugars, sulfur, sushavi (Sanskrit), tabil, tannic acid, tavallinen kumina (Finnish), terpenes, terpinen-4-ol, terpinolene, thiam takap (Thai), thiamine, threonine, thujone, titanium, tmin (Russian), tmin obyknovennyi (Russian), trans-beta-ocimene, (+)-trans-carveol, trans-caryophyllene-oxide, trans-dihydrocarvone, tryptophan, tyrosine, Umbelliferae, umbelliferone, unsaturated fatty acids, valine, vild kommen (Danish), Wiesenkümmel (German), wild cumin, wilde komijn (Dutch), wilder Kümmel (German), xanthotoxin, xylose, yuan sui (Chinese), zinc, ziya (Burmese).
Note: This monograph does not include information about the following species: Nigella sativa (black seed, black caraway), Carum bulbocastanum (black caraway), Carum copticum (ajowain, ajwain, ajmod; omam, omum), Carum nigrum (black caraway), Carum montanum, Carum capticum, or Carum roxburghianum.
Caraway (Carum carvi), or Persian cumin, is native to northern Africa, Europe, and Asia. A volatile oil from the seeds is distilled for herbal remedies. The oil, seeds, and tea are used for digestive and other gastrointestinal problems. Used around the globe as a culinary spice, caraway is an ingredient in tabil, an Arabic spice mixture, the North African spice paste harissa, and a common flavoring in German cuisine.
Caraway is likely safe when consumed in amounts commonly found in foods. Caraway has Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in the United States.
Research on caraway supplementation has mainly focused on its use as a treatment for indigestion. However, caraway may also be beneficial for asthma, infant colic, irritable bowel syndrome, and acid reflux, and may have antibacterial activity against Helicobacter pylori. Caraway is a component of the combination product Iberogast®, which is popularly used for functional gastrointestinal disorders. Some components of caraway seed oil may have anticancer effects.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
There is preliminary evidence from a study using an herbal tea containing eight herbs, including caraway, that allergic asthma reactions may be lessened. The effects of caraway alone, however, are unclear. Further study using caraway monotherapy is needed in this area.
Caraway is a component of the combination product Iberogast®, which is popularly used for functional gastrointestinal disorders. It is also an ingredient in Enteroplant®, which also contains peppermint oil. However, the effects of caraway alone are unclear.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Anthelmintic (antihelminthic), antibacterial, anticancer, anticonvulsant, antifungal, antimutagenic, antioxidant, antiparasitic, appetite stimulant, bad breath, bloating, cancer preventative, circulation improvement, colds, cosmetic uses, diabetes, digestive aid, diuretic, dizziness, earache, energy improvement, epilepsy, expectorant, eye infections, flatulence (gas), food additive, food preservation, gastric acid secretion stimulation, gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastrointestinal motility, H. pylori, high cholesterol, incontinence, infantile colic, insecticide, intestinal parasites, intestinal problems, irritable bowel syndrome, jaundice, lactation stimulant, laxative (used in combination with Rhamnus frangula and Citrus aurantium), lipid lowering (cholesterol and triglycerides), liver protection, menstrual pain, menstrual stimulant, mental health, mosquito repellant, mucositis (inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract), nerve pain, rheumatism, sedative, stress, tension headache, toothache.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for caraway. Based on historical use, 1-6 grams of dried caraway fruit has been taken by mouth daily. Ripe caraway fruit has been taken by mouth directly after crushing. A tea may be prepared using 1-2 teaspoons of pressed seeds in 150 milliliters of boiling water; cover and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes, and drink 2-4 cups daily between meals. Other traditional uses taken by mouth include 50-100 milligrams of caraway oil daily in combination with peppermint oil, and 1-4 drops of caraway oil on a lump of sugar or in a teaspoonful of water. Traditionally, 10% caraway oil, in a carrier oil (such as olive oil), has been applied to the skin 2-3 times daily.
Children (under 18 years old)
For children older than 10 years of age, traditional use has included 1.5-6 grams of dried caraway fruit or 3-6 drops of caraway oil daily. For children aged 4-10 years, 1-4 grams of dried fruit or 3-6 drops of caraway oil daily has been used. For children aged 1-4, 1-2 grams dried fruit or 2-4 drops of caraway oil has been used daily. For children up to one year of age, one gram of dried fruit or 1-2 drops of caraway oil has been taken daily. One to three teaspoons of a caraway infusion has been given to infants and young children, prepared by using one ounce of bruised seeds, infused for six hours in a pint of cold water.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or sensitivity to caraway, its constituents, or plants in the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae families, including celery, coriander, and fennel, and in patients that have mugwort-celery-spices syndrome.
Side Effects and Warnings
The combination product Enteroplant®, consisting of peppermint oil (90 milligrams) and caraway (50 milligrams), was generally well tolerated in studies in humans. Use of this combination product may result in belching, a burning sensation, gas, nausea, and vomiting. Grand mal seizures with loss of consciousness have been reported in one patient. The effects of caraway alone are unclear.
Caraway may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar levels. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Drowsiness or sedation may occur. Use caution if driving or operating heavy machinery, or if taking central nervous system depressants.
Caraway may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased or decreased in the blood and may cause increased or decreased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions.
Caraway may cause skin reactions or, at very high doses, central nervous system (CNS) depression.
Use cautiously in patients with epilepsy or history of seizures or taking antiseizure drugs.
Use cautiously in patients with gastrointestinal disorders.
Use cautiously with antibiotics, anticancer agents, antifungals, antispasm agents, antituberculosis drugs (specifically rifampicin, pyrazinamide, and isoniazid), calcium supplements, cholesterol- and lipid-lowering agents, CNS depressants, diuretics, lithium, and magnesium supplements,
Avoid with known allergy or sensitivity to caraway, its constituents, or plants in the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae families, including celery, coriander, and fennel, and in patients that have mugwort-celery-spices syndrome.
Avoid in pregnant and breastfeeding women in amounts greater than those usually found in food.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Caraway is likely safe in pregnant and breastfeeding women when taken by mouth in amounts found in food. However, some secondary sources recommend not using caraway products during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Anecdotal reports suggest that caraway has been used to stimulate menstruation.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Caraway may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar levels. Patients taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by their qualified healthcare professionals, including pharmacists. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Caraway may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs. Examples include benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan®) or diazepam (Valium®), barbiturates such as phenobarbital, narcotics such as codeine, CNS depressants, some antidepressants, and alcohol. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.
Caraway may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased or decreased in the blood and may cause increased or decreased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. Patients using any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
Caraway may interact or have additive effects with antibiotics, anticancer agents, antifungals, antiseizure agents, antispasmodic agents, antituberculosis agents, antiulcer agents, calcium salts, cholesterol- and lipid-lowering agents, diuretics, drugs that are affected by calcium levels (such as levothyroxine), iron salts, lithium, and magnesium supplements.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Caraway may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar levels. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
Caraway may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some herbs or supplements with sedative properties.
Caraway may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may become too high or too low in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements possibly have on the P450 system.
Caraway may interact or have additive effects with antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, antifungals, antioxidants, antispasm herbs and supplements, antiulcer herbs and supplements, calcium, calcium-containing foods, caper, cholesterol- and lipid-lowering herbs and supplements, diuretics, herbs and supplements used to treat seizures, insect repellants, iron, iron-containing foods, magnesium, perillyl alcohol-containing herbs, probiotics, and protein.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
De Martino L, De Feo V, Fratianni F, et al. Chemistry, antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal activities of volatile oils and their components. Nat Prod Commun 2009;4(12):1741-50. View Abstract
Goerg KJ and Spilker T. Effect of peppermint oil and caraway oil on gastrointestinal motility in healthy volunteers: a pharmacodynamic study using simultaneous determination of gastric and gall-bladder emptying and orocaecal transit time. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2003;17(3):445-451. View Abstract
George DR, Sparagano OA, Port G, et al. Repellence of plant essential oils to Dermanyssus gallinae and toxicity to the non-target invertebrate Tenebrio molitor. Vet Parasitol 2009;162(1-2):129-134. View Abstract
Gutierrez J, Rodriguez G, Barry-Ryan C, et al. Efficacy of plant essential oils against foodborne pathogens and spoilage bacteria associated with ready-to-eat vegetables: antimicrobial and sensory screening. J Food Prot 2008;71(9):1846-1854. View Abstract
Hausner H, Nicklaus S, Issanchou S, et al. Breastfeeding facilitates acceptance of a novel dietary flavour compound. Clin Nutr 2010;29(1):141-148. View Abstract
Jozsa L. [Dental care, dental diseases and dentistry in antiquity]. Orvostort Kozl 2009;55(1-4):43-57. View Abstract
Koppula S, Kopalli SR, et al. Adaptogenic and nootropic activities of aqueous extracts of Carum carvi Linn (caraway) fruit: an experimental study in Wistar rats. Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism (AUST J MED HERBALISM) 2009;21(3):72-78.
Kumar P, Singh VK, Singh DK. Kinetics of enzyme inhibition by active molluscicidal agents ferulic acid, umbelliferone, eugenol and limonene in the nervous tissue of snail Lymnaea acuminata. Phytother Res 2009;23(2):172-177. View Abstract
Laribi B, Kouki K, Mougou A, et al. Fatty acid and essential oil composition of three Tunisian caraway (Carum carvi L.) seed ecotypes. J Sci Food Agric 2010;90(3):391-396. View Abstract
Madisch A, Holtmann G, Mayr G, et al. Treatment of functional dyspepsia with a herbal preparation. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. Digestion 2004;69(1):45-52. View Abstract
Madisch A, Heydenreich CJ, Wieland V, et al. Treatment of functional dyspepsia with a fixed peppermint oil and caraway oil combination preparation as compared to cisapride. A multicenter, reference-controlled double-blind equivalence study. Arzneimittelforschung 1999;49(11):925-932. View Abstract
May B, Kohler S, Schneider B. Efficacy and tolerability of a fixed combination of peppermint oil and caraway oil in patients suffering from functional dyspepsia. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2000;14(12):1671-1677. View Abstract
Micklefield G, Jung O, Greving I, et al. Effects of intraduodenal application of peppermint oil (WS(R) 1340) and caraway oil (WS(R) 1520) on gastroduodenal motility in healthy volunteers. Phytother Res 2003;17(2):135-140. View Abstract
Rodov V, Vinokur Y, Gogia N, et al. Hydrophilic and lipophilic antioxidant capacities of Georgian spices for meat and their possible health implications. Georgian Med News 2010;(179):61-66. View Abstract
Seo SM, Kim J, Lee SG, et al. Fumigant antitermitic activity of plant essential oils and components from Ajowan (Trachyspermum ammi), Allspice (Pimenta dioica), caraway (Carum carvi), dill (Anethum graveolens), Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), and Litsea (Litsea cubeba) oils against Japanese termite (Reticulitermes speratus Kolbe). J Agric Food Chem 8-12-2009;57(15):6596-6602. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017