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cardamom

Elettaria cardamomum

Part Used: Dried seed with pod (Malabar, India)

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is a tropical, perennial herb, reaching 5 to 10 feet, with lanceolate leaves up to 2 feet long. The simple, erect stems grow to a height of 6 to 10 feet from a thumb-thick, creeping rootstock. The leaves are lanceolate, dark green and glabrous above, lighter and silky beneath. The seeds have a warm, slightly pungent, and highly aromatic flavour somewhat reminiscent of camphor. It has a large, fleshy rhizome, and the alternate, lanceolate leaves are blades from 1 to 2 1/2 feet long, smooth and dark green above, pale, glaucous green and finely silky beneath. The Cardamom is a native of Southern India, and grows abundantly in forests 2,500 to 5,000 feet above sea-level in North Canara Coorgi and Wynaad, where it is also largely cultivated. The seeds contain volatile oil, fixed oil, salt of potassium, a colouring principle, starch, nitrogenous mucilage, ligneous fibre, an acrid resin, and ash. The volatile oil contains terpenes, terpineol and cineol. It has appetizer, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive stimulant, expectorant, stimulant, and stomachic properties.

Cardamom seeds are useful for flatulence, but they are usually used as adjuvants with other remedies. They are also used as a spice in cooking and as a flavoring in other medicines. The seeds and pods contain a volatile oil which is used in perfumes and as a stimulant. The aphrodisiac properties of Cardamom are extolled in Arabian Nights- the people in Middle East still believe that cardamom possesses such properties. Cardamom is a stimulant, it cools the body in extreme heat and it aids digestion. It may be used for the remedy of Celiac Disease. Chinese use powdered Cardamom sprinkled on cooked cereal to correct celiac disease (intolerance for the gluten commonly occurring in children, marked by frequent diarrhea and continual digestive problems). The seeds are helpful in indigestion and flatulence, giving a grateful but not fiery warmth. When chewed singly in the mouth the flavour is not unpleasant, and they are said to be good for colic and disorders of the head. In flavouring they are combined with oils of Orange, Cinnamon, Cloves, and Caraway.

References:
Holistic Online. http://www.holisticonline.com/Herbal-Med/_Herbs/h117.htm
Botanical.Com. http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/cardam21.html

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