Origin, Distribution and Composition
Cardamom is the "queen of spices", second only to black pepper, the "king
of spices". It is one of the most valued spices in the world.
Cardamom grows as a perennial herb with thick, fleshy rhizomes or
underground stems shooting leafy roots and with leafy stems. It has very
large leaves, white or pale green three-celled flowers, many-seeded pale
green to yellow fruits and triangular brownish-black seeds.
The dried cardamom fruits of the plant constitute the drug. They have a
pleasant aroma with a characteristic, slightly pungent taste. They leave a
warm feeling in the mouth. It is the seeds, taken out from the fruits,
which produce the warm sensation.
Cardamoms are mentioned by Theophrastus in the fourth century BC and five
centuries later by Dioscoredes. By 1000 AD, they were an article of trade
from India westwards.
Cardamom is indigenous to South India. It grows wild in the rich moist
forests of Mysore, Coorg, Wynaad, Travancore and Cochin. Cultivation is
still limited to a few countries, mainly India, Sri Lanka and Guatemala.
An analysis of the cardamom capsule shows it to consist of carbohydrates,
moisture, protein, ether extract, volatile oil, crude fiber, calcium,
phosphorus and iron.
The seeds contain a volatile oil. The principal constituents of the
volatile oil are cineol, terpineol, terpinene, limonene, sabinene, and
terpineol in the form of formic and acetic acids.
Healing Power and Curative Properties
The aroma and therapeutic properties of cardamom are due to its volatile
oil. Tinctures of cardamom are used chiefly in medicines to relieve
flatulence and for strengthening digestion activities.
Cardamom reduces the air and water elements, increases appetite and
soothes the mucous membrane. It relieves gas and heart-bum caused by
garlic and onion. Ground cardamom seed mixed with ginger, cloves and
coriander, is an effective remedy for indigestion. A tea made from
cardamom is valuable in headache caused by indigestion.
The aromatic flavor in cardamom is a breath freshener. A few seeds chewed
for a brief period will remove foul smell.
Its powdered seeds mixed with a tablespoon of banana leaf and amla
juice taken thrice a day, will serve as an excellent diuretic for the
treatment of gonorrhea, cystitis, nephritis, burning micturation or
urination and scanty urination.
Powdered seeds of cardamom are boiled in water with tea. It gives a very
pleasing aroma to the tea. This can be used as a remedy in the treatment
The herb is useful in sexual dysfunctions like impotency and premature
ejaculation. A pinch of powdered cardamom seeds boiled in milk and
sweetened with honey every night would yield excellent results. Excessive
use of cardamom at times may lead to impotency.
Gargling with an infusion of cardamom and cinnamon cures pharyngitis,
sore-throat, relaxes uvula, or the fleshy conical portion at the back of
the tongue, and hoarseness during the infective stage of influenza. Its
daily gargle protects one from the flu.
Hiccups: An infusion made by boiling a couple of pounded whole cardamoms
in a cup of water along with 5 leaves of mint is useful in relieving
In India, cardamom is used as masticatory and often included in pan-supari.
It is used for flavoring curries, cakes, bread and for other culinary
purposes, like flavoring coffee or confectionery.
The essential oil of cardamom is used for pharmaceutical purposes,
perfumery, flavoring liquors and bitters, in the preparation of tincture
and as a stimulant.