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Cardamom

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  • Botanical: Elettaria cardamomum
  • Family: Zingiberaceae
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Cardamom

Botanical

Elettaria cardamomum

Family

Zingiberaceae

Known as

Elettaria cardamomum, Grüne Kardamom

Old Use

medicinal; culinary

Parts Used

fruit, seed

Aroma

balsamic, spicy, sweet

Medicinal

asthma, bad breath, constipation, coughs, digestion, epilepsy, flatulence, menstrual cramps, menopausal symptom, stomach pain, sore throat

Mind & Nerves

headache

Stomach & Intestinal

abdominal pain, bad breath, constipation, digestion, flatulence, gastrointestinal, laxative, indigestion, stomach weakness

Properties

antispasmodic, carminative, stimulant

Note

top

Extraction

steam distillation

Description

The large perennial herb. yielding Cardamom seeds is known in its own country as 'Elattari' or 'Ilachi,' while 'Cardamomum' was the name by which some Indian spice was known in classical times.

It has a large, fleshy rhizome, and the alternate, lanceolate leaves are blades from 1 to 2 1/2 feet long, smooth and dark green above, pale, glaucous green and finely silky beneath. The flowering stems spread horizontally near the ground, from a few inches to 2 feet long, and bear small, loose racemes, the small flowers being usually yellowish, with a violet lip.

The fruits are from 2/5 to 4/5 of an inch long, ovoid or oblong, bluntly triangular in section, shortly beaked at the apex, pale yellowish grey in colour, plump, and nearly smooth. They are three-celled, and contain in each cell two rows of small seeds of a dark, reddish-brown colour. These should be kept in their pericarps and only separated when required for use. Though only the seeds are official, the retention of the pericarp is an obstacle to adulteration, while it contains some oil and forms a good surface for grinding the seeds.

The value is estimated by the plumpness and heaviness of the fruits and the soundness and ripeness of the seeds. Unripe seeds are paler and less plump. The unbroken fruits are gathered before they are quite ripe, as the seeds of fruits which have partially opened are less aromatic, and such fruits are less valued. The seeds have a powerful, aromatic odour, and an agreeable, pungent, aromatic taste, but the pericarps are odourless and tasteless.

Properties & Uses

Carminative, stimulant, aromatic, but rarely used alone; chiefly useful as an adjuvant or corrective.

The seeds are helpful in indigestion and flatulence, giving a grateful but not fiery warmth. When chewed singly in the mouth the flavour is not unpleasant, and they are said to be good for colic and disorders of the head.

Cautions

Very few adverse effects have been reported with cardamom. Primarily, the seeds may cause allergic contact dermatitis. The cardamom seed may trigger gallstone colic (spasmodic pain) and is not recommended for self-medication in patients with gallstones. Although not well studied, cardamom may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients taking medications that also increase the risk of bleeding.

Distribution

 India to Malaysia.

Constituents

Essential oil, campesterol, stigmasterol, beta-sitosterol, borneol, camphor, salicylates