Cardamom, it is an Indian herb commonly known as “choti elaichi”. It is mostly found in southern India particularly in Kerala, Tamilnadu and Karnataka, on the shady slopes of the Western Ghats. Indian cardamom is slightly smaller, but more aromatic. Now Cardamom is also cultivated in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Mexico, Thailand and Central America
Cardamoms start bearing capsules two-three years after planting, it may be fourth or fifth year after sowing. Although India is the largest producer of cardamom, but very small amount is exported because of the large domestic demand. The main exporting country is Guatemala, where all cardamom is grown for exportation.
Cardamom is an herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the ginger family. The fruit of Elaichi is ovoid or oblong. Two varieties of the cardamom are available in the market, green and black cardamom. The green cardamom has very strong flavor as well as it is more expensive than the black cardamom. Each capsule contains about 15-20 seeds attached to axial placenta. Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic fragrance. It is one of the most exotic and highly prized spices in the world
After the first crop, higher and sustained yields are obtained subsequently up to the tenth or fifteenth year, after that the plants become exhausted.
Green colour of some capsules is not uniform so these are mostly used in some other purpose like in bleaching powder or perfumes.See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients: Cardamom, Nutritional value per 100 g.
Energy 311 Kcal Carbohydrates 68.47 g Protein 10.76 g Total Fat 6.7 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary Fiber 28 g Niacin 1.102 mg Pyridoxine 0.230 mg Riboflavin 0.182 mg Thiamin 0.198 mg Vitamin A 0 IU Vitamin C 21 mg Sodium 18 mg Potassium 1119 mg Calcium 383 mg Copper 0.383 mg Iron 13.97 mg Magnesium 229 mg Manganese 28 mg Phosphorus 78 mg Zinc 7.47 mg (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base) HEALTH BENEFITS
- It stimulates the digestive system and in the same way stimulates the appetite.
- It is also able to counteract excessive stomach acid.
- Cardamom helps in relieving flatulence and indigestion.
- Cardamom oils have the ability to stimulate the production of bile and reduction of gastric juices.
- Cardamom is able to inhibit the development and growth of pathogens including bacteria, fungi and viruses.
- Cardamom gives instant relief from the headache.
- The therapeutic properties of cardamom-oil in traditional medicines are for antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and tonic.
- Cardamom is an ayurvedic medicine, which are used for treating bladder disorders, urinary tract disorders and the kidney. It also treats other complications such as nephritis and cystitis.
- Cardamom is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
- Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
- Copper is required in the production of red blood cells.
- It is rich in many vital vitamins including riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C that is essential for optimum health.
- It is also an excellent source of manganese. It is a co-factor for the enzyme superoxide dismutase, which is a very powerful free radical scavenger.
- Manganese is also an essential mineral for raising bone mineral density. It is especially essential for women during menopause as risk for osteoporosis increases during menopause.
- Iron is also found in cardamom, which is required for red blood cell formation.
- Cardamom is widely used as a mouth freshener due to its aromatic flavor. Chew few seeds of cardamom for a brief period to remove foul smell from the mouth.
- Cardamom is effective in the treatment of colds, bronchitis and coughs.
- Cardamom is also used in stopping convulsions and hiccups, relieving stomach and intestinal cramping, relieving morning sickness and reducing vomiting and nausea.
- Cardamom oil is used in ayurveda for the treatment of inflamed nerves, joints and back muscles that are swollen.
- It is also used to treat mouth and pharynx inflammation.
- Cardamom improves the blood flow to the heart and organs by improving the blood circulation.
- Cardamom can be of great benefit as a diuretic. A diuretic is a substance that increases urine production and output from the kidneys in order to rid the body of excess fluids and unwanted toxins
- Chinese use powdered cardamom sprinkled on cooked cereal to correct celiac disease.
According to ayurdeva, Cardamom is known to be helpful in balancing all three ‘doshas’ in the human body. Hence it is termed as “tridoshic”. A little quantity of cardamom is especially beneficial in balancing “kapha”. It can be used for balancing “vata” and “pitta” also.
- Some individuals are hypersensitive to cardamom due to which they suffer respiratory allergic reactions like shortness of breath, throat or chest tightness, or chest pain.
- Cardamom allergies also results in irritating rash and hives.
- One of the side effects of cardamom appears in severe gallstone pain when a person is already suffering from gallstone complications. The pain arises due to the infection and bleeding of gall bladder which is triggered by cardamom.
- Individuals on following medications should cautiously take cardamom as it is known to interfere with their course of action and thus worsening the existing disorder.
- Anti-platelet drugs
- Liver medications
- HIV drugs