Cardamom, Elettaria cardomomm is a member of the Zingiberaceae Family. Cardamom is a perennial herb which grows to heights of up to 4 metres. It is native to tropical Asia and is now cultivated extensively in tropical regions particularly India, on the Malabar coast, Sri Lanka, Laos, Guatemala and El Salvador. A colorless to golden yellow essential oil is steam distilled from the dried ripe fruits and seeds. Cardamom is used in some carminative, stomachic and laxative pharmaceutical properties. It is also used more often as a flavor ingredient for pharmaceuticals. In the cosmetic industry Cardamom is used as a fragrance component in soaps, detergents, creams, lotions and perfumes. It is also used extensively as a domestic spice in curry, coffee, cakes and bread especially in India, Europe, the Middle east and Latin America. Cardamom is used in the food industry as a flavor component of many food products including alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, frozen desserts, candy, baked goods and others. Whole or ground Cardamom is used as a flavoring ingredient in Chai, a tea made popular in India.
The essential oil is composed mainly of >a-terpinyl acetate (an ester) and 1,8-cineole (an oxide) each of which may be present in up to 50% or more. Minor constituents include limonene, sabinene, linalool, linalyl acetate, a-pinene, a-terpineol, camphene, myrcene, 1,4-cineole, boreol and others.
Cardamom is highly odiferous and can overshadow other essential oils so one should blend carefully with it. It blends well with orange, anise, rose, bergamot, caraway, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, frankincense, ylang ylang, neroli, cedarwood and coriander.
Cardamom has anti-spasmodic, anti-septic, carminative, digestive and expectorant properties. It belongs to the same family as Ginger and shares a number of the same warming qualities.
Psychologically, Cardamom has stimulating and tonic properties. It can be helpful with tension, frigidity and impotence. It can help to stir the creative energies.
On the physiological level Cardamom has good anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties and has been found to be helpful with coughs, bronchitis, muscular aches and pains, anorexia, colic, cramp, digestion, indigestion, nausea and diarrhea.
Contraindications:Generally considered non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing, however use in small doses as aromatically a little goes a long way.
Leung and Foster, Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics, Second Edition, 1996
Beverley Hawkins, Aromatherapy 201 Course 1999 revised 2000, 2001,2003, 2004