Cardamom (Bai Dou Kou – Amomum)

Botanical Name: Elettaria (green and true cardamom) and Amomum (black and brown cardamom)

Cardamom is known for both its culinary and medicinal properties. It has long been used by many cultures to prevent illness and promote digestion.

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Below is an overview of cardamom, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of cardamom.

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Western Name: Cardamom

Also Known As: Green or Black Cardamom, Cardamon, Cardamum

Organs/Systems: Respiratory, Digestive, Nervous, Brain

Key Actions: Aphrodisiac, Digestive, Diuretic, Anticancer, Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-microbial, Antispasmodic, Hypolipidemic

Medicinal Uses: Alleviates poor appetite, colds, mouth ulcers, digestive difficulties, depression, bad breath. Lowers blood pressure, prevents cancer, prevents blood clotting.


Pin Yin: Bai Dou Kou (Amomum)

Also Known As: N/A

Meridians: Lung, Spleen, Stomach

Key Actions: Aromatic herbs that Transform Phlegm. Strongly Dries Damp, Strengthens Spleen, Expels Wind Damp, Tonifies Qi, Clears Dampness in the Lower Burner for Damp Heat pouring Downward (as in leg Qi), Reduces Sweating, Releases to Exterior, Improves Vision, Antidote for Poisons

Medicinal Uses: Transformation and transportation functions, including: diarrhea, stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, bloating, constipation, thick greasy tongue coat, painful obstruction in the extremities, vaginal discharge, swollen sore joints, headache, body aches due to wind cold damp, night blindness, diminished vision with rough sensation in eyes, weakness, lethargy, apathy, contusions, snake and scorpion bites, bruises, paralysis.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Cardamom is in the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. This herb is recognized by its small seed pods, triangular cross-section and spindle shape, with thin papery outer shell and small black seeds.

Both species (elettaria and amomum) are native to evergreen forests of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan.

Parts Most Frequently Used: Seeds, Pods

Flavors/Temps: Green cardamom – Pungent, Slightly Bitter, Sweet, Warm, Dry, Aromatic. Black cardamom – Pungent, Slightly Bitter, Sweet, Cooling, Dry, Aromatic.

Caution: Considered safe.

Key Constituents: Essential oils (including: A-terpineol, Myrcene, Limonene, Cineol, Menthone, B-phellandrene, Heptane), Atractylol, Hinesol, B-eudesmol, Potassium, Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin A & C

History/Folklore: One of the most esteemed essential oils in Ayurvedic medicine. The Greeks imported it from India as early as the 4th century. Renaissance herbalists considered it “chief of all seeds.” Cardamom is considered one of the world’s oldest spices, with recorded use dating back as far as 4,000 years.

The Ancient Egyptians used cardamom in rituals, embalming, and as a medicine. They would chew the pods to freshen their breath and help clean their teeth. The Greeks and Romans used cardamom for its pungent aroma. It was a main ingredient in perfumes and aromatic oils.

In the 13th century, in Persia, cardamom leaves were used medicinally to ease digestion, energize a person stuck in lethargy or apathy, and help fortify a person suffering from a fever.

In the 19th century, British colonists set up cardamom plantations where much of the green and black cardamom still comes from.

Cardamom is expensive largely because it is harvested by hand. One acre of cardamom will generally yield about 50-150 pounds of cardamom spice. Despite being native to Southern India, Guatemala is now the world’s largest producer of cardamom. Between green and black cardamom, green cardamom is the most expensive, but it also has the strongest flavor, so a little goes a long way.

Cardamom as a flavor is hugely popular in many spice route countries, but also in Scandinavia, where the Vikings first discovered it on their travels and brought it home with them. It now defines the flavor of many popular Nordic breads and sweets. Some say it has afternotes of fennel and star anise, others say ginger and cinnamon.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, black or brown cardamom is more commonly used medicinally. It is known for Clearing Damp which includes symptoms of congestion, vaginal discharge, headaches, or joint pain depending on the circumstances. Useful for Tonifying Qi and the Spleen and Stomach, it is also popularly used to promote healthy digestive function.

Cardamom is also commonly used in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Asian cuisine. In Arabia, cardamom is a symbol of hospitality. They will serve coffee brewed with one or two cardamom pods infusing the coffee with its distinct flavor and scent. An expensive spice, second only to saffron, it is considered a generous gesture to offer the spice. Along with rose and amber, cardamom is a symbol of extravagance.

The tradition of adding cardamom to coffee is said to derive from Ethiopia where coffee is grown and is considered as highly as tea in Japan. As a way of honoring guests, the lady of the house would perform a lengthy ritual of up to four hours, that included adding cardamom to the coffee for its scent and flavor. The ritual was considered analogous to the sufi way of living, to their guests for absolute knowledge, to the wringing of their souls and bodies to be soaked in God.

In Ayurvedic medicine the spice is considered especially useful for opening the mind, so as to center it and help a person abandon earthly cares.

Since ancient times, cardamom has been called the Queen of Peace, or Queen of Spices, with pepper being her king. Malkazedek, is the Queen of Peace. She is both hindu and aryan, Arabic and Ethiopian, and is a symbol of union and alliance between peoples. Cardamom also brings people together over coffee, meals, and with her scent and healing properties.

Cardamom has a long history as a symbol for making an alliance. Since the days of Zarathustra, it has played a symbolic role in weddings, with the groom offering his future bride some cardamom pods wrapped in a silk cloth before the wedding.

Cardamom’s history predates the Romans and Arabs, being mentioned in the great traditional Vedias texts of India. The spice was thrown into the sacrificial fires as an offering to the gods. Hindus continue to use cardamom as an offering when they make life-binding oaths before the gods.

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Did you know?

The Largest Producer of Cardamom

Cardamon was introduced in Guatemala by a German coffee maker, just prior to WWI.  Guatemala is now the largest producer of cardamom, followed by India.


Used in Baking

Common baking ingredient in the Nordic countries, particularly Sweden and Finland, where it is used in traditional treats such as Finnish sweet bread Pulla and in the Scandinavian Christmas bread Julekake.

Fun fact!

Garam Marsala Sauce

One of the principal ingredients in the Indian spice mixture Garam Marsala.

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ATENCIÓN: Todo el material proporcionado en este sitio web es sólo con fines informativos o educativos. No es sustituto del consejo de su profesional de la salud o médico. Esté sano. Sea feliz. Siéntase completo. Sea libre.

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