Who has not inhaled with pleasure the fragrance of cardamom wafting from a delicious biryani, pastry or almost every Indian sweet? Why even a simple cup of tea gets an exotic touch with a hint of cardamom added to it! Yet this light green, three sided pod with its thin outer cover and black seeds is much more than a highly prized spice. Ayurveda, the world’s oldest system of healing, considers it to be a very useful and potent medicine. According to the ancient sages and rishis, cardamom is a ‘tridosha’- which means that it is very effective in balancing all the three doshas or life forces that form a part of each individual’s constitution. The three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and it is only when they are perfectly balanced in a proportion unique to every individual, that a person can enjoy good health. Many ancient Ayurvedic texts Indian texts mention Cardamom as a medicine. The medical compendium Charaka Samhita written between the 2nd century BC and 2nd century AD, refers to it as an ingredient in many herbal remedies.
Cardomom is grown throughout South India, but Kerala, one of the world’s most exotic tourist destinations, is especially famed for its Cardamom plantations. In fact, the plant grows wild here in parts of the monsoon forests of the Western Ghats. This area has become known as the Cardamom Hills, and until just 200 years ago wild plants from these hills provided most of the world’s supply of cardamom.
A Pod Full of Goodness
Cardamom is part of the Zingiberaceae botanical family and consists of two types- Elletaria and Amomum cardamom. Elettaria pods are small and light green, while the Amomum pods are larger and dark brown. Scientific evidence shows that Cardamom contains components which protect and prevent blood clots from clumping in the blood stream. Furthermore, scientific analysis has found that cardamom is a wonderful dietary source of limonene, a chemical primarily found in the skin of citrus fruits. A Brazilian study performed revealed that consumption of limonene boosted antioxidant activity.
Cardamom also helps in cleansing the body as it has detoxifying properties. It is basically a warm spice and improves blood circulation to the lungs and can be helpful in prevention of spasms or convulsions. Hence, Cardamom in small quantities is beneficial for those suffering from asthma, bronchitis and those suffering from various kinds of respiratory allergies. Cardamom enhances appetite and provides relief from acidity in the stomach. Those suffering from nausea can also try out cardamom. It is used in the cure of halitosis and can be used for treating mouth ulcers.
Cardamom is known to be a good cure for weakness in general and practitioners of Ayurevda also advise its use for treating infection of the urinary tract. Cardamom is also Ayurveda’s most powerful mucus destroyer. As with all aromatics, cardamom is a diaphoretic that opens your pores, encouraging a mild sweat that cleanses the skin, aids low grade fevers, and cleanses the lymphatic system. It relaxes your muscle tissue, and is a calming antispasmodic useful in relieving the throbbing pain of a headache caused by a spasm in blood vessels. Additionally, Cardamom acts as a carrier herb, as it assists in the digestion and assimilation of heavier herbs used in Ayurvedic tonic formulas. Of course the quantity of cardamom which needs to be consumed depends on the physiology of a person and the disease which is to be treated or cured from. .
Many Uses of Cardamom
Added to milk, cardamom will neutralize mucus-forming properties- added to coffee, it detoxifies caffeine. Cardamom is most commonly taken as a tea, an additive to milk and food, and also used for inhalation and as massage oil. For cough and breathlessness, take a pinch of cardamom powder, a pinch of rock salt, 1 tsp of ghee, and ½ tsp of raw, uncooked honey mixed together. Cardamom works as a diuretic. To alleviate burning urination, take 1 pinch of cardamom with ½ cup of cucumber juice twice daily. For bleeding disorders, take a pinch each of Cardamom, saffron, and nutmeg, mixed with ½ tsp of raw, uncooked honey and 1 tsp of aloe vera juice twice a day. For nausea, take 2 pinches of Cardamom with ½ tsp of honey and ½ cup yogurt. For an upset stomach, combine a pinch of Cardamom with pinch of fennel with 1 tsp of raw, uncooked honey. This helps stop vomiting, burping, and acid reflux. To neutralize caffeine’s effects on the adrenal glands, add a pinch each of cardamom, ginger, and nutmeg to your coffee. Cardamom can be used as seeds or pods, whole or powdered but whichever way you use it, you can be sure it will add fragrance, spice and good health to your life.