Cardamom is one of those things that you either love or hate, usually. Arabs and easterners often adore the flavor, and westerners sometimes do, and sometimes don’t. Here in Kuwait, cardamom is an expensive spice, and in America it is even more expensive. So, what’s the big deal about cardamom?
Well, other than the fact that it is one of the best, exotic, and most aromatic flavoring herbs anywhere, it is also a medicinal herb, and its volatile oil makes one of the most versatile essential oils. The fact is, though, that cardamom is still mostly used as a food enhancer, more than as a medicament, although this is fast changing, and will continue to do so more and more as people begin to discover the vast and amazing benefits of cardamom essential oil.
The scientific name for cardamom is “Elettaria cardamomum”, and although coming originally from areas of the Asian subcontinent, it is now most often brought from Guatemala. The essential oil is derived by steam distillation, and it is from the fruit (seed pod) of the plant that this oil is gotten.
Cardamom has been used for thousands of years in India and China as both a flavoring and a medicinal oil as well. It was also well known in ancient Egypt, and it was used there in perfumery and incense making, while, at the same time, chewing it for its tooth whitening benefits. But, it is not just in the East that it is used, and in European and Scandinavian countries, cardamom is well-known and loved as a flavoring for their famous baked goods, among other things.
From a medicinal point of view, cardamom has a wide array of uses, and although people are less familiar with it than some of the other essential oils, when it comes to efficacy, cardamom is right up there with the best of the stars of the natural world of essential oils.
Cardamom is known worldwide for its use as a digestive herb, and is used all over the world in this capacity. In this same vein, it is also great for the loss of appetite, colicky stomach and gassiness, and is, perhaps, most well known for its use in the fight against halitosis (otherwise known as bad breath). In fact cardamom’s use as a halitosis fighter is so strong, that it is said a little cardamom in a cup of hot water will cure the strong effects of garlic or onions any day. Also, here in the Arabic world, people are not very keen on the smell that comes with the use of fenugreek seeds, although that herb is widely used in this region for a number of medicinal purposes, but with cardamom, they have the antidote to the pungent aroma of that other useful herb. It is also great for those who suffer from heartburn, and general chronic nausea. But, as a strong medicine, it is also traditionally known to get rid of digestive parasites.
Cardamom is also known as a good herb for handling stress, and adding a couple little pods to your tea every day, might be just what the doctor ordered, of you are suffering from tension and nervousness. (But use it with caution if you suffer from high blood pressure).
For the respiratory system cardamom is a star, and is good for use with bronchitis, coughs, colds, and any other kind of chest congestion or infection. It is also good for fever.
For feminine problems it is known to help with menstrual ills, particularly with ladies who suffer with symptoms of PMS. Along the same line, cardamom has been used as an aphrodisiac practically since the beginning of time.
Cardamom is known for its urinary benefits as well, and is said to be great for urinary inflammations, urinary retention, and is a general antiseptic.
Cardamom is great for dealing with all sorts of spasmodic pain in the body, including that from muscle spasms. So, you can use the essential oil blended into a base oil, in order to soothe painful muscles.
Although cardamom is most often used as a flavor enhancer and a food additive, you can see that there is so much more to those little green pods that the Indians serve you at the end of a spicy Indian meal.
So, if you are in the throes of discovering new and wonderful ways of keeping yourself in the best of health, cardamom is one of the options you simply must explore!