Caraway (Carum carvi) is native to Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. Caraway, also known as meridian fennel or Persian cumin, is a biennial plant belonging in the family Apiaceae. Caraway has smooth, wrinkled stems that grow to 1 ½ to 2 feet tall, with finely-cut leaves, and bunches of white flowers which only bloom in June. The fruit (which are commonly referred to as “seeds”) are compressed, somewhat horny, slightly bent, and marked with five distinguished pale ridges. Caraway seeds emit a pleasant, aromatic smell when bruised and have delightful taste.
Caraway has been known by many names in different regions, with names originating from the Latin cuminum (cumin), the Greek karon (again, cumin), which was adopted into Latin ascarum (now meaning caraway), and the Sanskrit karavi, sometimes interpreted as “caraway” but other times means “fennel”. Caraway was famous in classic days, and it is thought that its use started with the ancient Arabs, who called the ‘seeds’ Karawya, a name they still carry in the East, and clearly the source of our word Caraway and the Latin name Carvi, although Pliny made us believe that the name Carvi was taken from Caria, in Asia Minor, where he said that the plant was originally found. The label means Alcaravea in old Spanish.
Caraway seeds were traditionally used primarily for stomach complaints. Continuous research from Arabic regional analysis suggests Caraway is used as an endocrine function support agent, particularly related to auto immune disease and thyroid disorders.
Both Caraway seeds and oil contain stimulant, aromatic, and carminative properties. Caraway was broadly utilized at one time as a carminative cordial, and was prescribed in dyspepsia and symptoms related to hysteria and other disorders. Caraway has some tonic property and forms a nice stomachic. Its former broad employment in medicine has much lowered in the past years, and the oil and fruit are now mainly utilized in combination with other medicines as corrective or flavoring agent, mixed with purgatives. Distilled Caraway water is believed as a useful medicine in the flatulent colic of infants.
The bashed Caraway seeds, crushed with the crumb of a hot new loaf and moistened with a little spirit, was a conventional cure for bad ear aches. The powder of the Caraway seeds, turned into a poultice, will also remove bruises.