Carvone is a monoterpene hydrocarbon seen in excessive quantities in the seeds of caraway, dill and spearmint. The chemical belongs to the family of terpenoid. It is a liquid and is seen in a color that is slightly yellow to colorless, and is soluble in ether, alcohol, propylene glycol, chloroform, and mineral oils.

Carvone is seen as two mirror images, R-(–)-carvone and S-(+)-carvone. They two have very different distinctive smells that can be identified even by squirrel monkeys.

R-(–)-carvone smells like spearmint leaves and S-(+)-carvone smells like that of caraway seeds. It has been in use from ancient times, and has been used for its medicinal purpose in Rome.

It was only in 1877 when a pure form of carvone was isolated by Franz Varrentrapp. When it was first discovered, Schweizer called it carvol. Carvone is isolated in large quantities from caraway seeds (60-70%), in dill seed oil (40-60%), in spear mint oil (50-80%) and is also found in mandarin orange peel oil.

R-(–)-carvone is extracted from spearmint leaves, and is recognized to be a valuable source that helps with Carvone extracts naturally. R-(–)-carvone, which hits upon its use in commercial purposes finds it’s availability in limonene, kuromoji oil, gingergrass oil and peppermint oil.

Studies conducted state that carvone possesses decongestant, diuretic, antiviral, and tonic biological properties. They also seem to a have an elevated anti-tumor effect as seen in one of the studies conducted at the US National Cancer Institute on mice.

Uses of Carvone:

In general carvones are used in the food industry, and in aromatherapy like many essential oils, it is also used in air fresheners for it pleasant smell. It also has several therapeutic effects that make it a perfect choice in the treatment of certain medical conditions.

Carvone in Food:

It has been used in food for over millennia. The very famous Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum uses natural spearmint oil that has been extracted from Mentha spicata, and the other spearmint flavored Life Savers use the same.

Carvone that has been extracted from dill and caraway have also been in use in the food industry. The famous European drink Kummel is created with a mixture of an extract from caraway and alcohol.

Carvone in Agriculture:

It is commonly used in Netherlands to prevent the sprouting of potatoes that have been kept in storage.

A study was conducted to understand the antifungal activity of carvone on potato tubers and other plant diseases, it was also meant to analyze the suppression of sprout in potatoes.

The results suggested that during in-vitro experiments, carvone exhibited antifungal activity towards various fungal species. Thus carvone has taken the trade name ‘talent’ to serve as an antifungal agent in the treatment of potato tubers in Netherlands.

Carvone as a Pesticide:

The extract of carvone is seen to be effective as a mosquito repellent, and at present it is being reviewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to check its potency and safety as a pesticide.

Carvone & its Therapeutic Uses:

Carvone displays biological activities as an expectorant tonic, disinfectant, cardiac, stomachic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, and digestive stimulant.

Carvone as a Relaxant:

Carvone is a major constituent of the oil extracted from the caraway seed and is seen in huge quantities with a percentage as far as 99%. As a relaxant it helps relieve from stress, emotional exhaustion, and clear respiratory tracts by acting as an expectorant in the treatment of coughs, bronchitis, and bronchial asthma.

In the treatment of laryngitis and sore throats it helps by flushing out the toxins to aid in a speedy recovery. It aids in relaxing the digestive system and in the treatment of stomach colic, gastric spasms, flatulence, and nervous digestion. It’s also used in clearing the urinary tract as well.

Reference Links:

  1. Carvone by Wikipedia
  2. The use of carvone in agriculture: sprout suppression of potatoes and antifungal activity against potato tuber and other plant diseases, published in Industrial Crops and Products Journal