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Cardamom (Elaichi): Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

Introduction:

Seeds obtained from the plant Elettaria cardamomum of the family Zingiberaceae are a source of small cardamom or green cardamom. It is also called genuine or true cardamom and is locally known as ‘elaichi’.1,2 Cardamom plantations are commercially done in south India, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia and Central America.1Due to its pleasant aroma and flavouring versatility, cardamom is known as the ‘queen of spices and is used in many foods and beverages. It may have several applications as a traditional regional home remedy.1 It is one of the world’s most expensive and highly prized spices, ranking third after saffron and vanilla.2

cardamom benefits

Chemical Components of Cardamom:

A report by Savan et al., 2013 states that cardamom comprises 67 compounds representing 96.9% of the cardamom oil.

ComponentPercentage
1,8-cineole25.6%
Linalool6.3%
α terpinyl acetate40.7%
Table1: The components majorly found in cardamom oil3

Also Read: Saffron: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Did you know?

Properties of Cardamom:

As per the Indian Ayurvedic system, it has been used to reduce fat deposition in the body and manage skin and urinary problems. Other beneficial properties of the seeds of cardamom are as follows:3

  • It may have   carminative properties (to relieve flatulence)
  • It may have   digestive and stomachic properties (an increased appetite or assisting digestion)
  • It may act as a   desiccant (to dehydrate)
  • It may have   anti-emetic action (stops vomiting)
  • It may benefit   heart-health
  • It may have anti-asthmatic properties
  • It may have   anti-bronchitis activity
  • It may have anti-halitosis activity (may decrease bad breath).3

Animal studies have shown the following properties of cardamom:

  • It may have   antioxidant activity
  • It may have high blood pressure, lowering activity
  • It may benefit stomach health.
  • It may have   anti-spasmodic action (may relieve   spasms)
  • It may have   antibacterial activity
  • It may have   antiplatelet aggregation activity (may act   against abnormal blood clotting)
  • It may have   anticancer activity.3

Did you know that cardamom is a dental marvel? Yes, researchers believe that cardamom might have anti-bacterial properties, and hence its extracts might fight five known bacteria that cause dental caries.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Also Read: Black Cardamom: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Potential Uses of Cardamom:

Studies may show the benefits of cardamom in various aliments; however, these are insufficient and requires more human studies. Some of the potential uses of cardamom are described as follows.

Potential uses of cardamom for the stomach:

According to a report by Sharma et al., 2011,  cardamom extract was studied for its stomach-benefiting activity. It was found that the extract inhibited lesions in an animal model (a region in an organ or tissue that has suffered damage through injury or disease) caused due to the gastric ulcer by nearly 100%.2 However, this study was conducted on animals, not humans. Therefore, we require more human studies to suggest the benefits of cardamom in managing stomach ulcers.

Potential uses of cardamom for high blood pressure:

According to studies, powdered cardamom was found to significantly decrease   diastolic blood pressure (blood pressure when the heart muscles relax). It may also enhance fibrinolysis (the natural body process of preventing clot formation by the breakdown of clots) and antioxidant status without drastically changing fibrinogen levels and blood lipids in patients having high blood pressure.2 However, this information is insufficient, and we require large-scale human trials to provide the benefits of cardamom in humans. Hypertension or high blood pressure is a serious health problem; hence, a proper diagnosis and treatment are needed.

Potential uses of cardamom for inflammation and spasms:

Cardamom (Elaichi) seeds may exhibit anti-inflammatory and spasm-relieving properties.

Anti-inflammatory activity: The oil extract of cardamom was studied for its action on rat paw oedema, and a reduction in inflammation was observed.2

Anti-spasmodic activity: According to laboratory studies, cardamom relieved spasms in animal models.2 However, this information is insufficient for humans as these studies are done on animals. Thus, more studies on humans are required to back this claim. Therefore, it is essential to first speak to your doctors and only use it if prescribed.

Potential uses of cardamom for oxidative stress:

Cardamom oil may act as a natural antioxidant in the body.2 Different animal studies give evidence and indicate that cardamom administration may enhance antioxidant defences and inflammatory markers levels. This might suggest the ability of cardamom to suppress oxidative stress and inflammatory processes.1 However, more studies on humans are required to suggest the positive effect of cardamom oil in managing human oxidative stress.

Potential uses of cardamom for blood

Studies on cardamom were conducted to analyse inhibitory activity on human platelets. It was found that cardamom may enhance fibrinolysis activity as well as the blood’s antioxidant status. 2,3 However, this data is insufficient and requires more research on humans to provide complete knowledge of cardamom involvement in fibrinolysis.

Potential uses of cardamom as a sedative and anticonvulsant

An Ayurvedic formulation called Unmadnashak Ghrita contains cardamom as one of the components. It may possess anticonvulsant activity (managing seizures) and may also exhibit central nervous system depressant activity, which may have calming effects (sedation).2 However, this information requires doctors’ confirmation. Therefore, before using Unmadnashak Ghrita, please consult your doctors.

Potential uses of cardamom for skin

Cardamom, along with other plants, may be used for managing itching, blisters or pimples on the skin containing pus and enhancing skin complexion.2 However, this information requires confirmation from human studies. Therefore, people should never use cardamom to self-medicate themselves.

Other Potential uses of cardamom:

Cardamom seeds may be effective in reducing cigarette addiction. Chewing some cardamom seeds may be safe to minimise the number of cigarettes being smoked, and the chronic addiction to chain-smoking may slowly be reduced.2

Though there are studies that show the potential uses of cardamom in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of cardamom on human health.

Discover the ancient secret to soothing swollen eyelids and finding relief! From high blood pressure to cancer, asthma to stomach acidity, let cardamom be your trusted ally on the path to wellness. Cardamom is believed to have anti-inflammatory nature.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Also Read: Star Anise: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

How to Use Cardamom?

Cardamom (Elaichi) can be used to enhance flavours in both sweet and savoury dishes. It can be used in the form of:

  • Whole pods
  • Seeds
  • Seed powder.1

Powdered or whole seeds may be used in spice mixtures, beverages such as tea and coffee, curries, confectionaries, baked foods and meat products.3 Flavour and Extract Manufacturers Association approve its use in foods.1

You may consult your Ayurvedic physician for the form and dosage. In addition, we advise you to not replace or quit your current medications with any herbal preparations made from cardamom without talking to a physician or an Ayurvedic doctor.

Let’s talk about unveiling the potential of cardamom in snakebite management. While cardamom holds a special place in culinary delights, its potential healing properties extend beyond the kitchen. Cardamom may aid in the treatment of snake bites due to its anti-convulsant property.

Dr. Smita barode, B.A.M.S, M.S.

Side Effects of Cardamom:

US Food and Drug Administration categorises cardamom as ‘generally recognised as safe’.1

Some adverse effects of cardamom consumption have been reported in humans. These may include minor reports of the following:1

  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Mild skin inflammation
  • Swelling of tongue1

Other toxic effects of the extracts due to overdose include:2

  • Inflammation in the brain
  • Oxidative stress (imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body)
  • Damage to the cells of the heart.2

Therefore, if you experience any of such side effects, seek immediate medical help from your doctor who has prescribed it to you. They will be the best guide for providing proper treatment to overcome side effects.

Also Read: Harad: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, and more!

Precautions to Take With Cardamom:

  • Patients taking anticoagulant and antiplatelet medications must take caution in routine consumption of cardamom as it may have  the ability to stop platelet aggregation.1,2
  •   Cardamom seed intake  may have an influence on the level of hormones in females, it may have potential action as an endocrine disruptor (causes damage to hormone-secreting glands). While more studies are needed on these lines, you must consult your Ayurvedic doctor for advice on cardamom consumption.1  
  •  One must take extra precautions while giving it to children and elderly adults might develop a few harmful reactions in the body.
  • Without consulting a doctor, people should not use cardamom to self-medicate themselves.

Interactions With Other Drugs:

It was determined through a laboratory analysis that α-terpinyl acetate present in cardamom might indirectly inhibit the metabolism of drugs such as bupropion, tamoxifen, propofol, and methadone. Nevertheless, studies on living organisms are yet to be conducted to confirm any possible interference by cardamom with the metabolism of these drugs.1   Therefore, we recommend you consult an Ayurvedic physician. They will direct you to the better way to have cardamom as a herb.

Also Read: Triphala: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

Frequently Asked Questions:

1) What is small cardamom?

Small cardamom is also locally known as elaichi. It is popularly called the ‘queen of spices’. This spice is obtained from the seeds of Elettaria cardamomum Maton, a perennial plant.2

2) Can cardamom help in weight loss?

Yes, in ancient traditional medicines, cardamom was used to manage weight. Some enzymes in cardamom might be responsible for managing  heavy weight-related metabolic disorders. However, further studies are required to establish this property of cardamom.1 However, it is always better to consult a doctor/ dietician for weight loss suggestions.  

3) Is cardamom safe to eat during pregnancy?

Cardamom may help in relieving stomach discomfort during pregnancy, but more data is required regarding its safe consumption during pregnancy.1 It should be taken under the supervision of a doctor.

4) What is gahwa? Is cardamom used for its preparation?

Gahwa is a beverage consumed in the Middle East. Cardamom with coffee is traditionally used in Gahwa preparation.3

5) Which country is the largest producer of cardamom?

Guatemala is currently the largest producer of cardamom. India ranks second as the largest cardamom producer. International markets consider Indian cardamom to be of top quality.2

References:

  1. Singletary K. Cardamom: Potential Health Benefits. Nutrition Today. 2022 Jan 1;57(1):38-49. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/nutritiontodayonline/Fulltext/2022/01000/Cardamom__Potential_Health_Benefits.8.aspx?context=LatestArticles
  2. Sharma S, Sharma J, Kaur G. Therapeutic uses of Elettaria cardomum. International journal of drug formulation and research. 2011;2(6):102-8. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325618960_INTERNATIONAL_JOURNAL_OF_DRUG_FORMULATION_AND_RESEARCH_Therapeutic_uses_of_Elettaria_cardomum
  3. Savan EK, Küçükbay FZ. Essential oil composition of Elettaria cardamomum Maton. Journal of Applied Biological Sciences. 2013;7(3):42-5. Available from: https://dergipark.org.tr/en/download/article-file/415771

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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