What is Caraway?
Caraway is a native to Northern Africa, the Mediterranean and much of Europe. It falls into both categories of herb and spice, as it is the seeds that are used primarily, but if you grow it yourself , the leaves and the root are also edible. Caraway has been found in food dating back to 3000 BC making it one of the oldest cultivated spices. The Ancient Egyptians buried their dead with caraway to ward off evil spirits. It was also used as a food and a medicine in Ancient Greece and Rome. A Greek physician, Dioscorides prescribed oil of caraway to young ladies to rub into their skin and restore a healthy glow.
Julius Caesar’s army ate a bread made of caraway root (chara). During the middle ages the use of caraway spread up from the Arabian pensinsula and into Northern Europe. Old herbal legends describe caraway’s power to keep things from getting lost or stolen. It was used in an ancient love potion, and it was also believed that if you tucked some into your possesions they would be protected from theft. As well it is known to be attractive to fowl and is used to keep chickens and pigeons from straying
Health Benefits of Caraway
The primary medical benefit of caraway is its effect on digestion. It is a carminative which means it helps with gas and digestion. It is helpful to chew caraway seeds after a heavy meal. It has been used for colic as it is a light sedative and it can be used to settle a queasy stomach (antispasmodic).
carvies (Scottish), wild cumin, Roman cumin, Persian caraway