Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)
Cardamom was once one of the most valuable spices in the ancient world. It has a long history of being used in cooking in ancient Greece and it was a very important trade item. Today, the majority of the crop is grown in India, Sri Lanka, Guatemala and Nepal. The plant has long, tropical looking broad leaves, rather like ginger.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Cardamom can be taken for nausea, vomiting, indigestion and pulmonary disease that produces large amounts of phlegm. It is also an effective laxative that prevents stomach pain, griping and flatulence. Some people take it to detoxify caffeine in the body when they drink large amounts of coffee. An infusion can be used as a gargle to help sore throats. It is also added to cough drops and is prescribed for cases of food poisoning. Ayurvedic medicine uses the herb to treat asthma, bronchitis, kidney stones, anorexia, loss of appetite and general debility. Chinese medicine uses it to help urinary incontinence and as a general tonic for well-being. Some report it is effective against snake and scorpion venom.
Externally Cardamom seeds are chewed to prevent bad breath. It can even mask the scent of garlic. It is also used to treat infections of the gums and teeth. The extract has been used to treat skin conditions.
Other Uses Cardamom seeds are used in baked goods, curries, coffee, pickles, desserts and mulled wine for flavoring. It is also used in aromatherapy. Its therapeutic uses in aromatherapy include helping digestion and nausea, as an aphrodisiac, easing irritation caused by premenstrual syndrome, to ease coughs and to warm the body. It is also used in plant-based cosmetics, soap and hand creams.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Cardamom can be mixed with neem and camphor to make a nasal treatment for colds. It was also added to many digestive aids in traditional herbal remedies to improve the flavor.
Seeds, oil Both the seeds and oil are used in herbal medicine.
There are no known cautions for this herb, although if you have sensitive skin, use care when applying the essential oil. In Ayurvedic practice, the herb is not prescribed for pregnant women or for those suffering with gallstones.
Preparation and Dosage
Cardamom can be made into an infusion by boiling a cup of water and adding a teaspoon of freshly crushed seeds. Infuse the seeds for 10 to 15 minutes then allow it to cool. Strain and take up to three times per day a half hour before meals.