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Carum carvi

Carum carvi 

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Caraway oil, caraway seed, wild cumin, meridian fennel, persian cumin, meadow cumin

Original Habitat

C. carvi is a biennial plant considered native to Asia and presently cultivated in parts of Europe, Africa and North America. The plant grows well in moist, well-drained soil with adequate sunlight. It is tolerant of cold conditions up to Zone 3.

Plant Part Used



C. carvi oil is extensively used as a flavouring agent in the foods and beverages industry. In the fragrance industry, it is used in body care products such as soaps and lotions.[1] In therapeutic aromatherapy it is typically found in blends.


C. carvi grows to heights of 25 to 75 cm tall with long feathery leaves which resemble the leaves of the common carrot plant. It produces whitish pink flowers and small, brown fruits that are often mistakenly referred to as seeds. The plant has an ancient history of use in cooking.

The essential oil of C. carvi is steam-distilled from the crushed fruit of the plant. The oil has a very warm, spicy aroma, is thin in consistency and is clear to pale yellow in colour.

Chemical Constituents

Germacrene D
Trans-dihydrocarvone [2][3][4]

Medicinal Uses


Antibacterial: Several Iranian essential oils, including caraway, were tested against food-born pathogens Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. Caraway demonstrated antibacterial activity against these strains.[5] In addition, caraway oil also showed bacteriostatic activity against E. coli.[6]

Antibacterial action of caraway oil was also illustrated by the agar diffusion method against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.[2]

 Chemopreventative: In an animal setting, caraway essential oil induced glutathione S-transferase (GST), demonstrating its potential as a chemopreventative agent. [4]

Traditional Use

Digestive aid+++
Coughs and colds++
Nervous tension++

Clinical studies on the use of Caraway oil as a single preparation are lacking. However, it has been studied in combination with peppermint oil for its effectiveness in treating non-ulcer dyspepsia including irritable bowel syndrome. Over two hundred patients were randomized into control and placebo groups with the control group receiving enteric coated capsules containing a Caraway/Peppermint preparation. Pain was measured at beginning and end of therapy. Those in the control group demonstrated a statistically significant decline in pain.[7] An earlier clinical study demonstrated similar findings in a small group of patients (45). In this study, it was found that the preparation of the two oils resulted in overall improvement in symptoms.[8]

Contraindications and Precautions

Those with sensitive skin should take care when using this oil.

May cause irritation to mucous membranes.[9]

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Not to be used by children.


[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]


1.     Bauer K, Garbe D, Surburg H.  Common Fragrance and Flavor Materials: Wiley-VCH; 1997:174.

2.     Iacobellis NS. Antibacterial activity of Cuminum cyminum L. and Carum carvi L. essential oils. J Agric Food Chem. 12 Jan 2005;53(1):57-61.

3.     Bouwmeester HJ. Biosynthesis of the monoterpenes limonene and carvone in the fruit of caraway. I. Demonstration Of enzyme activities and their changes with development. Plant Physiol. Jul 1998;117(3):901-912.

4.     Zheng GQ. Anethofuran, carvone, and limonene: potential cancer chemopreventive agents from dill weed oil and caraway oil. Planta Med. Aug 1992;58(4):338-341.

5.     Mohsenzadeh M. Evaluation of antibacterial activity of selected Iranian essential oils against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli in nutrient broth medium. Pak J Biol Sci. 15 Oct 2007;10(20):3693-3697.

6.     Fazlara A. The potential application of plant essential oils as natural preservatives against Escherichia coli O157:H7. Pak J Biol Sci. 1 Sep 2008;11(17):2054-2061.

7.     Freise J, Köhler S. Peppermint oil-caraway oil fixed combination in non-ulcer dyspepsia--comparison of the effects of enteric preparations. Pharmazie. Mar 1999;54(3):210-215.

8.     May B, Kuntz HD, Kieser M, Köhler S.Efficacy of a fixed peppermint oil/caraway oil combination in non-ulcer dyspepsia. Arzneimittelforschung. Dec 1996;46(12):1149-1153.

9.     Tisserand R, Balacs T. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Churchill-Livingston; 1995:204.

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