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Caraway (Carum carvi)

kasztanowiecnspCaraway is not only a seasoning with a characteristic intense aroma and taste, but it is also a pharmaceutical raw material used in medical treatment.

What does the caraway look like and where can it be found?

The usually white caraway flowers are cropped in umbels and grow from long, thin and branched stems. The fruits of cumin, which are the most important in terms of theraupeutic effects, are very small. They occur in the form of a schizocarp suspended on a common ligament. The fruits are distinguished by their curved shape and characteristic ribbing on the outside.

The caraway is a biennial plant which grows in natural habitats throughout Europe and Asia, as well as in Africa (Tunisia). Apart from the wild habitats in Poland, the plant is also cultivated for industrial use (in Żuławy Wiślane).

Active ingredient contents in the caraway fruits

The caraway fruits contain an ethereal oil which includes carvon, limonene, carveol – a monoterpenoid alcohol and dihydrocarvon. They also contain flavonoids, leukoanthocyanins, polyacetylenes, fatty oils, saccharides, proteins and caffeic acid.

A slightly yellowish ethereal oil produced from caraway fruits has a pleasant smell and a burning spicy taste.

The effects of the caraway ethereal oil

The ethereal oil produced by distillation from caraway fruits is used in medicine as the aromatic carminativum. This designation informs us that the effect of administering the caraway fruit extract includes relaxation of smooth muslces, mainly in the intestinal tract (spasmolytic effect). In addition, caraway fruits are bactericidal and carminative, facilitate digestion and indirectly stimulate lactation (i.e. the secretion of milk from the mammary glands which enables breast feeding).

Therapeutic indications for use of caraway

The extract from the caraway is a component of numerous composite preparations available in capsules (like the Gastrochol dietary supplement) or herbal mixtures. The carminative effect, which is most usually associated with caraway fruits, has found use in the treatment of flatulence, the feeling of heaviness after meals and in neonatal colic. The effect of intestinal muscular relaxation is used in the treatment painful abdominal cramps. A valuable property of caraway fruits is the ability to stimulate digestion of food. Interestingly enough, the extract from caraway fruits complemented by extracts of camomile and mint (in the Gastrochol dietary supplement) ensures proper digestion, protection against flatulence and the feeling of heaviness after meals.

Does the caraway used as a spice also feature therapeutic action?
It definitely does. Not only does the addition of caraway to bread and other dishes intensify taste and olfactory sensations, but it also improves digestion. Remember that an properly prepared caraway extract with a defined (i.e. explicitly identified by the manufacturer) content of ethereal oil in a specific preparation (e.g. Gastrochol) has a decidedly better effect on the body than adding a dozen or so "seeds" to your meal.

How to make the caraway infusion on your own

A properly made infustion ensures a therapeutic effect. It is good to know what to do and in what order to retain the medicinal properties of caraway fruit.

Crush one teaspoon of caraway fruit and pour over with a glass of boiling water and infuse covered for ten minutes or so. Then filter away the infusion, leave to cool down and diivide into several smaller portions. Drink several portions through the day.

The infusion can be used to aid the treatment of stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers, disorders of the liver and in disorders of digestion, flatulence and discomfort after meals.


Products containing Caraway

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