cardamom

Cardamom Benefits, Uses, Side Effects

Cardamom, also known as Ela in Sanskrit and Elaichi in Hindi, holds great significance in Ayurveda. Cardamom is often called the ‘queen of spices’ because of its pleasant aroma and taste.

It is an important culinary spice that has numerous health benefits. Cardamom is also an ingredient in chyawanprash, a popular and time-tested Ayurvedic immunity booster.

Cardamom seeds are commonly used as natural breath fresheners in India. It is the third most expensive spice after saffron and vanilla.

cardamom

Cardamom Botanical Description

  • This plant is a perennial herb. It has thick and fleshy rhizomes or underground stems.
  • It is a clumping plant with between 10 to 20 leafy shoots arising from the rhizome.
  • The shoots are actually pseudostems composed of overlapping leaf sheaths. It has very large leaves that are dark green in color.
  • The plant produces flowers on a long drooping panicle. Its flowers are white or pale green in color and are three-celled in structure.
  • Its fruit resembles a capsule which is triangular in shape and initially pale green or yellow in color that eventually dries to brown. The fruit contains 15–20 small, aromatic, triangular, and brownish-black seeds.
  • Dried cardamom fruits have a pleasant aroma with a characteristic and slightly pungent taste. Their seeds cause a warm sensation in the mouth.
  • Cardamom is native to South India. It grows wild in the rich and moist forests of Mysore, Coorg, Wynaad, Travancore, and Cochin. Its cultivation is still limited to a few countries namely India, Sri Lanka, and Guatemala.

Botanical Name: Elettaria cardamomum
Family: Zingiberaceae

Sanskrit Synonyms with Meanings 1

Ela: Ela means it acts as a breath freshener and relieves bad breath (halitosis)

Sukshma: Green cardamom is smaller in size which is why its called sukshma. Sukshma means minute.

Triputa: This word means, it has three seed pods.

Chandrabala: In other words, it has a pleasant smell like camphor.

Tutha: This word refers to how it is small in size and pacifies Kapha dosha.

Korangi: It pacifies Vata dosha.

Different Varieties of Cardamom

Sukshama Ela (Smaller Or Green Cardamom)

Its botanical name is Elettaria cardamomum.

Green cardamom has sub-varieties depending on the size of the fruits described below.

1. Var. major Thw.- This variety has larger fruits. Wild cardamom from Sri Lanka comes under this sub-variety

2. Vas. minor Watt.- This variety has smaller fruits. Cardamom cultivated in India falls under this sub-variety. The Indian Vas. minor variety of green cardamom is further divided into Malabari elaichi, which is comparatively smaller and Mysoori elaichi. This is larger than Malabari elaichi. 2

Brihat Ela (Greater Or Black Cardamom)

Its botanical name is Amomum subulatum. The shape, size, and color of the fruit is different from green cardamom. In the context of Ayurveda, black cardamoms have significantly different properties compared to green cardamom.

This is why black cardamom has been described independently in the classical Ayurvedic text Dravyaguna Vijnana (Ayurvedic Herbology).

Black cardamom has sub-varieties as described below.

1. Morang ilaichi or Bengal cardamom: It is Amomum aromaticum Roxb. This variety is cultivated mostly in the eastern parts of West Bengal and Assam in India.

2. Malabar or Tavoy cardamom: It is Amomum xanthioides Wall. This variety is cultivated mainly in Burma, Vietnam, and Malaysia.3

In the market, cardamom usually goes by the following names:

1. Coorg-Mysore- This variety is mainly cultivated in Coorg and Mysore and is called Malabari elaichi.

2. Tuticorin- This variety is mainly cultivated in the southern parts of Tamil Nadu, Travancore, and Cochin. It is called Mysoori elaichi.4

Ayurvedic Properties of Cardamom 4

Rasa or taste: Katu (pungent), madhura (sweet)

Guna or qualities: Laghu (light), rooksha (dry)

Virya or potency: Sheeta (cold)

Vipaka or taste conversion after digestion: Madhura (sweet)

Effect on dosha: Tridosha hara (balances all three dosha). Due to its guna (qualities) and rasa (taste), it balances Kapha dosha. Due to its vipaka (taste conversion after digestion), it balances Vata dosha. Due to its virya (potency), it balances Pitta dosha.

Parts used: Seeds

Recommended Dosage: 0.5-1 gm(s)

Popular Ayurvedic Formulations With Cardamom Or Ela 5

  • Eladi churna
  • Eladi arishta
  • Eladi gutika
  • Eladi modaka
  • Eladi kwatha

Read More: Ayurvedic Formulas List + Ayurvedic Formulations

Chemical Constituents of Elaichi

The major compounds in the essential oil of cardamom seeds are 1,8-cineole (45.6 %), α-terpinyl acetate (33.7 %), sabinene (3.8 %), 4-terpinen-4-ol (2.4 %), and myrcene (2.2 %).6

Cardamom Uses Described In The Ayurvedic Texts

elaichi cardamom

According to Charak Samhita

It is included under shwashara mahakashaya. Shwasahara mahakashaya is a group of herbs which are helpful in relieving various problems related to the respiratory system.7

It is included under angamarda prashamana mahakashaya. Angamarda prashamana mahakashaya is a group of herbs which are useful in relieving body aches.8

Cardamom Uses According to Dravyaguna Vijnana (Ayurvedic Herbology)

  • Cardamom is a mouth freshener.
  • It is also a breath freshener.
  • Cardamom is an antiemetic (relieves vomiting sensation).
  • It is helpful in relieving excessive thirst.
  • Cardamom is helpful in problems related to loss of taste
  • It improves digestive strength.
  • It is helpful in relieving gas
  • Cardamom also acts as a cardiac tonic.
  • Cardamom has diuretic properties.
  • It is helpful in relieving burning sensation
  • It is also useful in piles.
  • It is useful for relieving stomach and intestinal cramps as it has antispasmodic properties.
  • It is helpful in relieving bloating.
  • Cardamom is helpful in asthma and chronic respiratory problems
  • Cardamom is useful in cough and cold.
  • It relieves dysuria (painful micturition) and retention of urine.
  • Cardamom helps with recovering from emaciation
  • It is helpful in tuberculosis.

Scientific Research on Cardamom

  • It is helpful in reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.10
  • It is useful in lowering cholesterol levels.11
  • It has antioxidant properties.12
  • It has antihypertensive effects.12
  • It increases the ability to dissolve clots (enhances fibrinolysis ).12
  • It protects the myocardium and exhibits cardioprotective effects by free radical scavenging and antioxidant activities.13
  • It is helpful in preventing obesity.14
  • It improves glucose intolerance.14
  • It has antispasmodic action.15
  • It is helpful in preventing gastric and peptic ulcers due to Helicobacter pylori.16
  • It has antifungal activity.17
  • It has antibacterial activity.18
  • It is helpful in reducing high blood sugar level.20
  • It is helpful in protecting the liver.21
  • It is helpful in anxiety.22
  • It has sedative effects.23
  • It is helpful in asthma.24

Cardamom flavored gum may even be effective in lessening nicotine withdrawal symptoms in individuals trying to quit smoking cigarettes.

Read More: Ayurvedic Herbal Smoking (Dhumpana) + Other Natural Ways To Quit 

The oil extracted from cardamom seeds is a combination of terpene, esters, flavonoids, and other compounds6. Cineole, the major active component of cardamom oil, is a potent antiseptic that may help with killing oral bacteria associated with bad breath and other oral infections.

Recently, in a study done to explore the antimicrobial effects of cardamom extracts on oral bacteria, it was found that the extracts are effective against oral pathogenic bacteria like Streptococcus mutans and Candida albicans.19

Consult your Ayurvedic practitioner or health care provider before introducing herbal supplements into your diet.

References

  1. Aadrash Nighantu, vol. 2, page no.581, by Shri Bapalal Vaidya, Chaukhmbha Bharti Academy,2016.
  2. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no.720, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017
  3. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no.729, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017
  4. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no.720, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017
  5. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no.721, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017
  6. Chemical Composition, Anticonvulsant Activity, and Toxicity of Essential Oil and Methanolic Extract of Elettaria cardamomum. Masoumi-Ardakani et al.
  7. Charak Samhita, Sutra Sathan,4/37, p.no.76, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2017
  8. Charak Samhita, Sutra Sathan,4/44, p.no.77, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2017
  9. Charak Samhita, Sutra Sathan,4/44, p.no.77, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt Tripathi, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan,2017
  10. Cardamom supplementation improves inflammatory and oxidative stress biomarkers in hyperlipidemic, overweight, and obese pre-diabetic women: a randomized double-blind clinical trial. Kazemi et al.
  11. Effects of Cinnamon, Cardamom, Saffron, and Ginger Consumption on Markers of Glycemic Control, Lipid Profile, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammation in Type 2 Diabetes Patients. Azimi et al.
  12. Blood pressure lowering, fibrinolysis enhancing and antioxidant activities of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum). Verma et al.
  13. Protective Effects of Cardamom in Isoproterenol-Induced Myocardial Infarction in Rats. Goyal et al.
  14. Cardamom powder supplementation prevents obesity, improves glucose intolerance, inflammation and oxidative stress in liver of high carbohydrate high fat diet induced obese rats. Rahman et al.
  15. Pharmacological studies of cardamom oil in animals. al-Zuhair et al.
  16. In vitro susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to botanical extracts used traditionally for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. Mahady et al.
  17. The Evaluation of the virulence factors of clinical Candida isolates and the anti-biofilm activity of Elettaria cardamomum against multi-drug resistant Candida albicans. Vijayalakshmi et al.
  18. Cardamom, Cumin, and Dill Weed Essential Oils: Chemical Compositions, Antimicrobial Activities, and Mechanisms of Action against Campylobacter spp. Mutlu-Ingok & Karbancioglu-Guler Cardamom comfort, author-Ratika Sharma,
  19. Comparison of the efficacy of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) with pioglitazone on dexamethasone-induced hepatic steatosis, dyslipidemia, and hyperglycemia in albino rats. Nitasha et al.
  20. Amomum cardamom L. ethyl acetate fraction protects against carbon tetrachloride-induced liver injury via an antioxidant mechanism in rats. Lim et al.
  21. The effect of Elettaria cardamomum extract on anxiety-like behavior in a rat model of post-traumatic stress disorder. Masoumi-Ardakani et al.
  22. Gut modulatory, blood pressure lowering, diuretic and sedative activities of cardamom. Gilani et al.
  23. Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of cardamom in asthma, Khan et al.
  24. The Nutritional and Health Benefits of Cardamom or Elaichi, Rajan Singh Jolly.

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Dr. Alka Sharma, BAMS is an Ayurvedic practitioner and an avid learner of the field. She graduated with a Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) from Dayanand Ayurvedic College, Jalandhar, Punjab in India. She has been practicing Ayurvedic medicine and doing related work for the last six years. She works as an independent consultant in Ayurveda through online consultancy services. She has a personal app on the Google play store where she consults patients on their health problems following the Ayurveda medical sciences. She additionally has a Masters degree in Business Administration for Health Sciences from Sikkim Manipal University (SMU), India.

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