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Herbal Monograph

Herb: CARDAMOM (Eletarria cardumomum; Zingiberacae (6); Elattaria cardamomum (8); Elettaria c. (40))      

Other Names:  Bastard cardamon, cardamon seeds, Malabar cardamon   (13)

Mysore cardamom, Malabar cardamom.    (57)

Character/Energetics: spicy, warm  (6); pungent, sweet/heating/pungent  VK- P+ (in excess)  (40)                        

Meridians/Organs/Body Parts affected: spleen, stomach, lungs, kidney   (6)                                                     

Bodily Systems:  digestive, respiratory, circulatory, nervous  (40)

Tissues: plasma, blood, marrow and nerve  (40)

Parts used:   the fruit  (6);  seed  (13)  (40)

Identification & Harvesting:    A perennial with a thick, tuberous rhizome and numerous long roots.  Up to 30 erect, smooth, green stems, 6-10 ft. high.  Leaves are in 2 rows with a leaf membrane at the end of a soft-haired sheath.  Leaf surface is lanceolate, margined, downy above, silky beneath and punctuated by numerous small oil cells.  Seeds are 4mm diameter and dark-reddish-brown.  Flowering shoots grow on the stem very close to the ground.  Flowers are alternate and covered by sheath-like bracts before opening.  Corolla is greenish-white.  Lobes are rounded, somewhat curly, white with a yellowish border with blue veins and lines in the center.  Fruit is up to 2 cm long, up to 1 cm thick, short-stemmed, ovate or elliptical to oblong.  Seeds are very wrinkly, irregularly edged, and entire seed is surrounded by an almost colorless seed coat.  Odor is highly aromatic and pleasant;  taste is aromatic and pungent.  Indigenous to southern India and Sri Lanka and is cultivated in tropical regions in southeast Asia and Guatemala.    (2)

Cardamon is a perennial plant found commonly in southern India, but also cultivated in other areas….The fruit is a three-celled capsule holding up to 18 seeds.  (13)

The seeds are mainly obtained from Sri Lanka or Southern India where the crop is gathered between October and December   (8)

Cultivated chiefly in Ceylon.  Fruits are ovoid or oblong, more or less triangular, longitudinally furrowed, varying in length from 1/2-1 inch.  The unbroken fruits are gathered before quite ripe, so as not to split open in drying.    (57)

Active constituents:    volatile oils, composition of which varies according to strain, chiefly cineol, alpha-terpinyl acetate, linalyl acetate;  fatty oils;  starch.    (2)

essential oil including D‑borneol, bornylacetate , d‑camphor, nerolidol, linalool (6); up to 4% volatile oil including terpineol, cineole, limonene, sabinene and pinene (8)

Actions:    cholagogue, virustatic (2); 

stomachic, carminative, expectorant, tonic  (6)

carminative, sialagogue, orexigenic, aromatic  (8)

appetizer, carminative, stimulant, stomachic   (13)

antispasmodic, carminative, digestive stimulant  (15)

stimulant, expectorant, carminative, stomachic, diaphoretic   (40)

Carminative, stomachic.   (57)

Conditions and Uses: Treats common cold, cough, bronchitis, fevers, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx, liver and gallbladder complaints, loss of appetite, tendency to infection, dyspepsia  (2)

Cardamon treats gastralgia, enuresis (involuntary urination), spermatorrhea, phlegm, indigestion and gas.    (6)

This valuable culinary herb may be used to treat flatulent dyspepsia and to relieve griping pains. It will stimulate the appetite and the flow of saliva. It is often used as a carminative flavoring agent when purgatives are given. (8)

Cardamon seeds are useful for flatulence, but they are usually used as adjuvants with

other remedies. They are used as a spice in cooking and as a flavoring in other medicines.  (13)

Indications: colds, cough, bronchitis, asthma, hoarse voice, loss of taste, poor absorption, indigestion. Cardamon is one of the best and safest digestive stimulants. It awakens the spleen, stimulates samana vayu, enkindles Agni and removes Kapha from the stomach and lungs. It stimulates the mind and heart and gives clarity and joy. Added to milk it neutralizes its mucus forming properties and it detoxified caffeine in coffee. Its quality is sattvic and it is particularly good for opening and soothing the flow of the pranas in the body.

Cardamon is good for the nervous digestive upset of children or of high Vata and in this regard combines well with fennel. It helps stop vomiting, belching, or acid regurgitation.  (40)

A warm, grateful aromatic, chiefly employed in flatulence or as a flavor.    (57)

Combinations: Cardamon is good for the nervous digestive upset of children or of high Vata and in this regard combines well with fennel. (40)

Tincturing Process:   Cardamomum (Cardamom Seeds) 1 oz herb:5 oz (50%) alcohol   (11)

Dosage & Applications:    Average daily dose is 1.5 g. herb.  Tincture dosage range is 1-2 g.    (2)

Take directly in a powder of from 1/a‑1 teaspoon at a time

formulas 3‑6 grams (do not boil for more than a few minutes). (6)

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 tsp. of the freshly crushed seeds and leave to infuse 10-15 minutes. Take 3x daily. If treating flatulence or loss of appetite, drink half an hour before meals. (8)

Infusion (do not boil); Powder (100 to 500 mg); milk decoction   (40)

The fruits should be crushed before use, and the infusion of 2 oz. to a pint of boiling water taken in 4 oz. doses.  Powdered seeds, 10-30 grains per dose.    (57)

Precautions:    Can trigger gallstone colic, due to its motility-enhancing effect.    (2)

ulcers, high Pitta   (40)   


CARDAMON (Eletarria cardumomum; Zingiberacae Elattaria cardamomum; Elettaria c.)

General Notes:  Cardamom (spelled with an M or N for last letter) is often called “grains of paradise.” A three-sided wonder and most popular in the Middle East where, it is said, a poor man would rather give up his bread than his daily cardamon intake, for three reasons: (1) Cools the body in hot weather; (2) Aids digestion, relieves indigestion; (3) Is believed to be the best of aphrodisiacs.   (1)

This herb is an excellent warming, anti-mucus stimulant to add to lung tonics. It is commonly added to fruits such as baked pears to counteract mucus forming aspects and heighten the lung tonifying effects. A good recipe for a delicious lung tonic is to core a hard winter pear, stuff it with a combination of brown sugar or honey and a 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cardamon powder and bake. According to the Chinese, the small green cardamons (sha ren) are better for the kidneys, while the large white cardamons (bai dou kou) are better for the lungs. (6)     



(1) Cayuga Botanicals Research Data, “Cardamon” file (“Let Herbs Do It” by Virginia Williams Bentley)

(2)  PDR for Herbal Medicines (Medical Economics Co., 1998), p. 823

(6) Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., pg. 250 

(8) The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, pg. 188

(11) Herbal Materia Medica (5th edition) by Michael Moore, pg. 8

(13) The Herb Book by John Lust, pg. 147

(15) The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody, pg. 180

(40) The Yoga of Herbs  by  Dr. David Frawley &  Dr. Vasant Lad, pg. 109

(57) Potter’s Cyclopaedia by R.C. Wren, F.L.S., pgs. 70-71