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IBS Supplements > Herbs as Medicine > Caraway

Caraway

The use of caraway, which is botanically related to fennel, seems to date back to the ancient Arabs. The ancient Greek physician Dioscorides noted that caraway seeds aid digestion, and throughout history in Europe, the Middle East, and early America, caraway was a favorite addition to laxative herbs because it tempered their often violent effects. It was also historically used for menstrual cramps.

Medicinally, caraway has been used to treat indigestion, nervous disorders, and colic. To this day, in countries around the world, caraway is a traditional ingredient in foods such as meats and cheeses that are heavy and difficult to digest.

Caraway has anti-spasmodic effects as well as anti-microbial properties, and it stimulates the production of gastric juices. Two chemicals present in caraway seeds (carvol and carvene) soothe the smooth muscle tissues of the digestive tract and help expel gas.

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Caraway is available as a dried seed in spice shops or the bulk section of health food stores, and can be easily brewed into tea. Lightly crushing the seeds before brewing them with hot water will increase their strength. Whole caraway seeds can simply be chewed.

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