Cardamom has been a precious spice for thousands of years. It has a rich heritage as both a culinary and medicinal prize that predates modern medicine significantly, and research has shown that its reputation is well-deserved. There are multiple health benefits of cardamom seed that make it a useful herb as well as a tasty spice.
The Cultivation Of Cardamom
Cardamom originated naturally in India and Nepal. Thousands of years of cultivation spread it all across Asia, and it was a trading staple with classical European cultures including the Greeks and the Romans. In the 20th century, Cardamom was successfully transplanted to South America, and today Guatemala is the world’s leading cardamom producer. Despite intensive agricultural efforts, thanks to persistent high demand and the small amount of spice recoverable from each plant cardamom is the third-most expensive spice in the world by weight.
Health Benefits of Cardamom Seed
- Cardamom is a carminative. It aids digestion and reduces bloating and flatulence.
- Cardamom is antibacterial. This makes it useful for, among other things, getting rid of bad breath.
- Cardamom is packed with antioxidants.
- Cardamom acts as a vasodilator, making it useful for alleviating asthma symptoms.
- Cardamom is a promising source for DIM and IC3, a pair of natural phytochemicals that may help prevent cancer.
- Cardamom makes a superb detoxification herb, a role in which its antioxidant ingredients are particularly useful.
- Cardamom helps improve kidney function and purge urea.
- Cardamom helps soothe upper digestive tract problems including acid reflux.
- Cardamom contains heart-healthy minerals (including potassium, calcium, and especially magnesium) that improve cardiovascular health.
- Cardamom is a stimulant/aphrodisiac that can improve sexual function.
Ways Of Using Cardamom Seed
Besides being used as a spice, cardamom seeds play a role in many traditional and modern herbal medicines. They are most often taken orally after being ground up, and they’re frequently added to teas. In the Middle East cardamom seeds are often brewed together with coffee beans in a 1:1 mixture, producing a flavorful and potent drink.
Cardamom’s antispasmodic effects make it useful for treating a wide range of digestive complaints, especially bloating and flatulence (as noted above), irritable bowel syndrome, and cramping.
Cardamom is favored by pregnant women for its anti-nausea effects; a cup of cardamom tea makes an excellent treatment for morning sickness.
Cardamom makes an excellent essential oil which is used in a variety of different aromatherapy treatments. Interestingly, topical application of cardamom oil can reproduce its anti-nausea effects. Mixing cardamom oil with tarragon and ginger oil — all closely related plants with the ability to quell nausea — produces a powerful natural remedy that is actually used to prevent vomiting after surgery.
Potential Side Effects
Cardamom seed is an extremely safe herb. The only significant complication is the herb’s strange tendency to cause spasmodic pain (biliary colic) in individuals who have gallstones. Cardamom should be avoided — as both an herbal medicine and a spice — by people suffering from gallstones.