Spices are an integral part of Ayurvedic cooking, not just for the multitude of flavors and colors they add to each dish, but also for their powerful medicinal properties like those of Cardamom.
Cardamom, one of the array of spices in Authentic Chyawanprash™, is often referred to as “The Queen of Spices.” It has a distinct floral aroma and sweet taste. It is native to the continent of Asia, but is now cultivated in various other countries such as Guatemala, Tanzania and Malaysia.1 It is one of the most expensive spices in the world, only surpassed by saffron and vanilla.
There are two types of cardamom in Ayurveda. Green cardamom, also called Choti Elaichi, comes from the species Elettaria cardamomum and black cardamom, which comes from the species Amomum subulatum. Each variety of cardamom has different health benefits, tastes, and smells.
Cardamom is mainly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking, particularly in desserts, tea and coffee due to its sweet flavor. In addition, it is also often chewed after a meal to freshen breath.
Cardamom comes in a pod that houses smaller seeds. Both the whole pod and seeds, which are ground to create to make cardamom powder, are used in Ayurvedic cooking and remedies.
Cardamom in Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, spices are classified by their qualities, tastes and the actions they have on the body and mind. Cardamom has warming and calming qualities, along with sweet and pungent tastes. Although it is considered to be tri-doshic (balancing for all doshas), those with Pitta imbalance should use it sparingly or in moderation, as it is heating.
So, what is cardamom good for? According to Ayurveda, the buildup of ama (toxins) blocks normal circulation in the body, reduces energy levels and is the main cause of illness and disease. Cardamom’s warming and detoxifying effects aid in reducing the accumulation of ama (toxins) in the body and maintaining health. In addition, it helps to reduce Kapha in the stomach and lungs (such as congestion and mucous) and pacifies Vata, which when out of balance can lead to anxiety.
Potential Health Benefits of Cardamom in Ayurveda:
Cardamom is rich in antioxidants, which has been shown to protect cells from free radical damage that can cause inflammation and pre-mature aging.2
Supports respiratory health
Black cardamom helps to soothe colds and coughs by lubricating the respiratory pathways.
Cardamom has been shown to reduce indigestion, gas and bloating by stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes which are activated by smelling and tasting the spice. It is especially helpful after a meal as it makes heavy and acidic foods easier to digest. In the Middle East, coffee is often brewed with cardamom to offset the negative effects of the acidic coffee (and it imparts a delicious flavor as well!)
A phytochemical found in the oil of cardamom called cineole has been shown to have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that support good oral health. Studies have found that it fights bad breath and aids in healing mouth ulcers. In addition, some studies have found cardamom extracts to be effective against Streptococcus mutans and Candida albicans, a common yeast that can cause various digestive issues and infections if it proliferates.3
Supports kidney and bladder health
Due to its diuretic effects, cardamom supports cleansing toxins from the urinary tract, kidneys and bladder.4
Supports blood pressure
Cardamon is a rich source of fiber (2g of fiber in 1 Tbsp). The fiber content along with its diuretic effects may help to reduce blood pressure.4,10
Supports healthy blood glucose levels
A study on the health benefits of cardamom on obese rats found that supplementation with cardamom powder improved blood glucose levels significantly.5 In addition, cardamom is a rich source of manganese, which may play a role in managing blood sugar levels.
Promotes a healthy metabolism
Cardamom’s warming effects boost metabolism from an Ayurvedic perspective, as Pitta dosha governs metabolism. However, modern day studies have shown it to also have potential benefits, including supporting healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as aiding the body in burning fat more efficiently.5, 9
Cardamom is also a rich source of Vitamin C which has been proven to boost the immune system.
Supports more restful sleep
Smelling the fragrant aroma of cardamom essential oil before going to bed has been shown to promote more restful sleep in some people. In addition, cardamom powder is often used along with several other ingredients to create a nourishing and delicious Ayurvedic sleep tonic.
May improve athletic performance
One study of 30 college students evaluated the health benefit of cardamom aromatherapy on heart rate variability during exercise. Aerobic fitness levels were higher in the aromatherapy and exercise group than in the group that just did the exercise. The first group showed in increased ability to utilize oxygen during exercise. While this is certainly an exciting discovery, more research is needed to draw conclusive results.7
The potent oil from cardamom may have the ability to relax smooth muscle in the body, potentially reducing gastric pain, gas, cramps, tremors, hiccups, coughs and aiding in reducing asthma.8 A few drop of oil in a glass of water can be helpful for gastric discomfort, while a few drops mixed into a carrier oil massaged on the skin can help to reduce cramping.
While there are no scientific studies on the aphrodisiac properties of cardamom, it has been praised in Ayurveda as a powerful spice that supports male sexual health and feelings of intimacy.
In addition to adding delicious flavor and fragrant aroma to foods, cardamom also has many health benefits. It is safe to use on a daily basis for most people, however, should not be used in high doses. As with any herb or spice, too much of a good thing can create imbalance in the body. Our Authentic Chyawanprash™ combines organic cardamom with 34 other wildcrafted and organic ingredients into a delicious herbal jam that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- References: 1. “Cardamom.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Feb. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardamom. 2. Conner, E M, and M B Grisham. “Inflammation, Free Radicals, and Antioxidants.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 1996, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8862535. 3. Sharma, Ratika. “Cardamom Comfort.” Dental Research Journal, vol. 9, no. 2, 2012, p. 237., doi:10.4103/1735-3327.95243. 4. Gilani, A H, et al. “Gut Modulatory, Blood Pressure Lowering, Diuretic and Sedative Activities of Cardamom.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 12 Feb. 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18037596. 5. Rahman, Md Mizanur, et al. “Cardamom Powder Supplementation Prevents Obesity, Improves Glucose Intolerance, Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in Liver of High Carbohydrate High Fat Diet Induced Obese Rats.” Lipids in Health and Disease, vol. 16, no. 1, 2017, doi:10.1186/s12944-017-0539-x. 6. Kazi, T G, et al. “Copper, Chromium, Manganese, Iron, Nickel, and Zinc Levels in Biological Samples of Diabetes Mellitus Patients.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18193174. 7. Patil, Shrikant & Sreekumaran, E & P Krishna, A. (2011). EVALUATION OF THE EFFICACY OF CARDAMOM AROMATHERAPY ON AEROBIC FITNESS & AUTONOMIC FUNCTIONS AMONG STUDENTS. 1 2 1. 8. Al-Zuhair, H. “Pharmacological Studies Of Cardamom Oil In Animals.” Pharmacological Research, vol. 34, no. 1-2, 1996, pp. 79–82., doi:10.1006/phrs.1996.0067. 9. Bhaswant, Maharshi, et al. “Green and Black Cardamom in a Diet-Induced Rat Model of Metabolic Syndrome.” Nutrients, vol. 7, no. 9, 2015, pp. 7691–7707., doi:10.3390/nu7095360. 10. Gilani, A H, et al. “Gut Modulatory, Blood Pressure Lowering, Diuretic and Sedative Activities of Cardamom.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 12 Feb. 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18037596.