Cardamom is one of the oldest spices in the world and was used extensively in ancient Egypt to make perfumes. Its medicinal uses, however, are less well known. Cardamom has been employed in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, and is an excellent remedy for many digestive problems, helping to soothe indigestion and gas. It has an aromatic and pungent taste and combines well with other herbs.
Habitat & Cultivation
Cardamom is native to southern India and Sri Lanka, where it grows profusely in forests at 2,600–4,900 ft (800–1,500 m) above sea level. It is also widely cultivated in India, southern Asia, Indonesia, and Guatemala. Cardamom is propagated from seed in autumn or by root division in spring and summer, and needs a shady position and rich and moist, but well-drained soil. The seed pods are harvested just before they start to open in dry weather during the autumn and are dried whole in the sun.
- Volatile oil
- Digestive tonic
- Protects liver
- Mild stimulant
Antispasmodic: A 2009 Indian clinical study found that cardamom successfully lowered blood pressure in 20 adults over a 3-month period. Those taking part in the trial had “a feeling of well-being without any side-effects.” The herb has a long established antispasmodic action.
Traditional & Current Uses
Ancient herb: Cardamom has been highly valued both as a spice and a medicine and was known in Greece in the 4th century BCE.
Digestive problems: Throughout history, cardamom has been used for the relief of digestive problems, especially indigestion, gas, cramping, and irritable bowel syndrome. The seed’s pleasant taste means that cardamom is often added to digestive remedies to improve their flavor.
Current Indian uses: Cardamom is used in India for many conditions, including asthma, bronchitis, kidney stones, anorexia, debility, and weakened vata.
Chinese remedy: In China, the herb is taken for urinary incontinence and as a tonic.
Bad breath: Cardamom is an effective treatment for bad breath, and when taken with garlic helps to reduce its smell.
Aphrodisiac: The herb contains androgenic compounds and has a long-standing reputation as a tonic and aphrodisiac. A traditional Arabian recipe blends cardamom with coffee.