Caraway

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What other names is Caraway known by?

Alcaravea, Anis Canadien, Anis des Prés, Anis des Vosges, Apium carvi, Carraway, Carum carvi, Carum velenovskyi, Carvi, Carvi Commun, Carvi Fructus, Cumin des Montagnes, Cumin des Prés, Faux Anis, Haravi, Jeera, Jira, Kala Jira, Karwiya, Krishan Jeeraka, Krishnajiraka, Kummel, Kummich, Roman Cumin, Semen Cumini Pratensis, Semences de Carvi, Shahijra, Shiajira, Wiesen-Feldkummel, Wild Cumin.

What is Caraway?

Caraway is a plant that has an interesting place in legend. Superstitions held that caraway had the power to prevent the theft of any object that contained the seed and to keep lovers from losing interest in one another. These days, some people think caraway has healing power, and they use the oil, fruit, and seeds as medicine.

Caraway is used for digestive problems including heartburn, bloating, gas, loss of appetite, and mild spasms of the stomach and intestines. Caraway oil is also used to help people cough up phlegm, improve control of urination, kill bacteria in the body, and relieve constipation.

Women use caraway oil to start menstruation and relieve menstrual cramps; nursing mothers use it to increase the flow of breast milk.

Caraway is used in mouthwashes and in skin rubs to improve local blood flow.

In foods, caraway is used as a cooking spice.

In manufacturing, caraway oil is used to flavor certain medications. It is also commonly used as a fragrance in toothpaste, soap, and cosmetics.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Heartburn, when used in combination with other herbs. Taking caraway oil as part of a specific combination with peppermint oil (Enteroplant, Spitzner Arzneimittel) seems to relieve heartburn, including symptoms of fullness and mild gastrointestinal (GI) spasms, about as well as a drug called cisapride. This peppermint oil/caraway oil combination is not available in the US. Another combination product that contains caraway plus clown's mustard plant, peppermint leaf, German chamomile, licorice, milk thistle, angelica, celandine, and lemon balm (Iberogast, Medical Futures, Inc) also seems to improve symptoms of upset stomach. This combination seems to significantly help acid stomach, cramping, nausea, and vomiting.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Asthma. Early research suggests that drinking tea containing chamomile, saffron, anise, fennel, caraway, licorice, cardamom, and black seed twice daily for 6 months reduces symptoms of allergic asthma, including sleep discomfort and coughing.
  • Poor appetite.
  • Constipation.
  • Gas.
  • Bloating.
  • Spasms of stomach and intestines.
  • Menstrual cramps.
  • Poor blood flow.
  • Infection.
  • Starting menstruation.
  • Increasing milk flow in nursing mothers.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of caraway for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Caraway work?

Caraway oil might improve digestion and relieve spasms in the stomach and intestines.

Are there safety concerns?

Caraway is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in food amounts. Caraway is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts for up to 8 weeks.

Caraway oil can cause belching, heartburn, and nausea when used with peppermint oil. It can cause skin rashes and itching in sensitive people when applied to the skin.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It is POSSIBLY UNSAFE to take caraway in medicinal amounts. Caraway oil has been used to start menstruation, and this might cause a miscarriage. Don't use it.

Not enough is known about the safety of using caraway during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Diabetes: There is a concern that caraway might lower blood sugar. If you have diabetes and use caraway, watch your blood sugar carefully. The dose of the medications you use for diabetes might need to be adjusted.

Too much iron in the body (hemochromatosis): Caraway extract might increase the absorption of iron. Overuse of caraway extract with iron supplements or iron-containing food might increase iron levels in the body. This may be a problem for people who already have too much iron in the body.

Surgery: Caraway might lower blood sugar levels. There is a concern that it might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop using caraway at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Lithium
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Caraway fruit extract might have an effect like a water pill or "diuretic." Taking caraway fruit extract might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.



Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1) substrates)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Caraway extract might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking caraway along with some medications that are changed by the liver might increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking caraway, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some of these medications that are changed by the liver include chlorzoxazone (Lorzone), theophylline (Elixophyllin, Theo-24), and bufuralol.



Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Caraway might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking caraway along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

Before taking caraway, talk with your healthcare professional if you take any medications.



Sedative medications (CNS depressants)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Caraway seed extract might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking caraway seed extract along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.



Water pills (Diuretic drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Caraway fruit extract might decrease potassium in the body. "Water pills" can also decrease potassium in the body. Taking caraway fruit extract along with "water pills" might decrease potassium in the body too much.

Some "water pills" that can decrease potassium include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, HydroDiuril, Microzide), and others.



Isoniazid (INH, Nydrazid)
Interaction Rating: Minor Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Caraway seed extract might increase how much isoniazid (Nydrazid, INH) the body absorbs. This might increase the effects and side effects of isoniazid (Nydrazid, INH). Before taking caraway, talk to your healthcare provider if you take isoniazid (Nydrazid, INH).



Pyrazinamide
Interaction Rating: Minor Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Caraway seed extract might increase blood levels of pyrazinamide when taken at the same time. This might increase the effects and side effects of pyrazinamide. Before taking caraway, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking pyrazinamide.



Rifampin (Rifadin)
Interaction Rating: Minor Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Caraway seed extract might blood levels of rifampin (Rifadin) when taken at the same time. This might increase the effects and side effects of rifampin (Rifadin). Before taking caraway, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking rifampin (Rifadin).

Dosing considerations for Caraway.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:
  • For heartburn (acid indigestion): 50-100 mg of caraway oil per day has been used in combination with peppermint oil. A specific combination product containing caraway (Iberogast, Medical Futures, Inc) and several other herbs has been used in a dose of 1 mL three times daily.
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Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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