Scientific name: Carum carvi

Common names:

Ayurvedic names: Krishna jeeraka

Chinese names: Ge lü zi

Bangladesh names: Jira or Zira

Arabic names:     الكراويا (al karawaya)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Fabaceae?

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Seed, oil

Collection: Mid-summer (flowers, seeds)

Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: almost 2 feet

Actions: Anti-spasmodic, anti-microbial, aromatic, astringent, emmenagogue, expectorant, spasmodic, stimulant

Known Constituents: Oil including carvone and limonene, tannin

Constituents Explained:


The fruit is a cylindrical shape.  It is usually 3-6.5mm long and 1-1.5mm wide.

Traditional Use:

Believed to be have been used for at least 5000 years.  It seems to have a relaxing and soothing effect on digestion, which is used to ease gas and stimulate the digestion.  It is commonly used to help cough, and in cases of asthma. Sometimes used as a mouthwash. The oil should not be taken internally.

Used as an anti spasmodic for period pains.  Has been used to stimulate the flow of milk in mothers that are nursing.  It has been used with other herbs to make the taste more pleasant.1

Clinical Studies:

The therapeutic equivalence of a fixed combination preparation consisting of peppermint oil and caraway oil (PCC, Enteroplant) and the prokinetic agent cisapride was investigated in a four-week randomized controlled double-blind study with planned adaptive interim analysis.

The study comprised 120 outpatients with functional dyspepsia. The efficacy was evaluated in 118 patients. Of these, 60 patients received the enteric-coated combination preparation (2 x 1 capsule containing 90 mg peppermint oil +50 mg caraway oil per day) and 58 patients received the reference preparation cisapride (3 x 10 mg/day). 

The mean reduction of the pain score recorded on a visual analog scale during the four-week treatment was 4.62 points with the peppermint oil/caraway oil preparation. This score was comparable with the mean reduction under cisapride.

Equivalence was also found in the secondary variable “frequency of pain” with a reduction by 4.65 points under PCC and by 4.16 points under cisapride carried out on an exploratory basis.

Comparable results were attained with both treatments in the Dyspeptic Discomfort Score which included the other dyspeptic symptoms as well as intestinal and extraintestinal autonomic symptoms, in the prognosis as appraised by the physician and in the CGI scales (Clinical Global Impressions).

Corresponding results were also found in Helicobacter pylori-positive patients and patients with initially intense epigastric pain in the two treatment groups. The combination preparation consisting of peppermint oil and caraway, oil appears to be comparable with cisapride and provides an effective means for treatment of functional dyspepsia. 

Both medications were tolerated well.


Madisch A, Heidenreich CJ, Wieland V, Hufnagel R, Hotz J. “Treatment Of Functional Dyspepsia With A Fixed Peppermint Oil Combination Preparation As Compared To Cisapride. A Multicenter, Reference-Controlled, Double-Blind Equivalence Study.” 1999 November

Source material:


Herb Name: Caraway

Other names: Caraway Seed, Persian Cumin

Latin name: Carum Carvi

Family: N.O. Umbelliferae

Common part used: Fruit

The Caraway generally grows in the north and the central part of Europe, and in corresponding regions in Asia. It is usually a cultivated plant, but it can also be found growing wild in many areas. This plants grows best in well-drained soil, and prefers warmth and sunlight. Generally speaking Caraway is grown for it’s use in culinary flavoring, and in the production of liquors.

The caraway is a biennial plants. It grows from one and a half to two feet high – or about half a meter, and it has a smooth stem with furrows on it. The leaves are fine, and the flowers put forth in June in white umbels. The roots of the plant are thick and spindle shaped, with grooved branches that are usually hollow. 

The schizocarp of the fruits of this plant is a yellow-brown color, and long and slightly oval. These fruits are what are wrongly termed ‘seeds’ by lay people. They are achenes, and just about two millimeters long, compressed in their lateral section, with a horny outer layer. Each fruit has five distinctive ridges on it.

These seeds are used in flavoring either whole or ground into a fine powder. The oil is extracted from them by steam distillation. This oil is aromatic, and is used in medicines. Indeed, the very leaves of the plant can be sources of similar oil, and are used in soups, for their distintive aroma and flavor.

Once the oil is extracted, the exhausted seeds may still be used as food for cattle.

The essential oil extracted from the fruit contains a mixture of ketone, elements of carvacrol, and carvone. Carvone is a terpene. It was once thought to be a distintive substance, ‘carvene’ but is now known to simply be dl-limonene. Pure carvone can also be extracted by decomposing Carvone crystals with the help of hydrogen sulphide.