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 seed.>, 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 lOOO 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 fibre, 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.
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 flavour 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 gonorrhoea, cystitis, nephritis, burning micturation or urination and scanty urination.
Powdered seeds of cardamon 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 of depression.
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 hiccups.
In India, cardamom is used as masticatory and often included in pan-supari. It is used for flavouring curries, cakes, bread and for other culinary purposes, like flavouring coffee or confectionery.
The essential oil of cardamom is used for pharmaceutical purposes, perfumery, flavouring liquers and bitters, in the preparation of tincture and as a stimulant.