GENERAL DESCRIPTION: A strongly aromatic annual herb about 1 metre high with bright green delicate leaves, umbels of lacelike white flowers, followed by a mass or green, round seeds.
DISTRIBUTION: Native to Europe and western Asia; naturalised in North America. Cultivated throughout the world, the oil is mainly produced in the USSR.
OTHER SPECIES: Various chemotypes of the same species are found according to geographical location.
HERBAL/FOLK TRADITION: A herb with a long history of use the seeds were found in the ancient Egyptian tomb of Rameses II. The seeds and leaves are widely used as a granish and domestic spice, especially in curries. It has been used therapeutically, mainly in the form of an infusion for children s diarrhoea, digestive upsets, griping pains, anorexia and flatulence. In Chinese medicine the whole herb is used for dysentery, piles, measles, nausea, toothache and for painful hernia.
ACTIONS: Analgesic, aperitif, aphrodisiac, anti-oxidant, anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic, bactericidal, depurative, digestive, carminative, cytotoxic, fungicidal, larvicidal, lipolytic, revitalizing, stimulant (cardiac, circulatory, nervous system), stomachic.
EXTRACTIONS: Essential oil by steam distillation from the crushed ripe seeds. An essential oil is also produced by steam distillation from the fresh and dried leaves.
CHARACTERISTICS: A colourless to pale yellow liquid with a sweet, woody-spicy, slightly musky fragrance. It blends well with clary sage, bergamot, jasmine, olibanum, neroli, petitgrain, citronella, sandalwood, cypress, pine, ginger, cinnamon and other spice oils.
PRINCIPAL CONSTITUENTS: mainly linalol (55-75 per cent), decyl aldehyde, borneol, geraniol, carvone, anethole, among others, constituents, vary according to source.
SAFETY DATA: Generally non-toxic, non-irritant, non-sensitizing. Stupefying in large doses-use in moderation.
AROMATHERAPY/HOME USE: Circulation, muscles and joints: Accumulation of fluids or toxins, arthritis, gout, muscular aches and pains, poor circulation, rheumatism, stiffness. Digestive system: Anorexia, colic, diarrhoea, dyspepsia, flatulence, nausea, piles, spasm. Immune system: Colds, flu, infections (general), measles. Nervous system: Debility, migraine, neuralgia, nervous exhaustion.
OTHER USES: Used as a flavouring agent in pharmaceutical preparations, especially digestive remedies. Used as a fragrance component in soaps, toiletries and perfumes. Employed by the food industry especially in meat products and to flavour liqueurs such as Chartreuse and Benedictine; also used for flavouring tobacco.