We are continuing our series on the health benefits of the spices you can find in your pantry.
A primary ingredient in Garam Masala, cardamom is a tropical spice that is considered one of the most valuable spices in the world because of its therapeutic properties and decadent aroma. Cardamom is native to India and other South East Asian tropical forests and is known for its effects on a variety of issues including digestive problems, ulcers of the mouth, even as a mood lifter. It is part of the ginger family and has many similar benefits and grows as a rhizome just as ginger does. Cardamom has been incorporated into the healing lore of a number of South East Asian cultures and only now is modern medicine studying what has been known by these cultures for millennia.
Gastrointestinal and digestive issues
As a member of the ginger family, cardamom is beneficial for many of the same issues where ginger is helpful. Nausea, gas and bloating, heartburn, decrease in appetite, and constipation are all digestive issues where cardamom may be helpful. Cardamom can be used to encourage the appetite aromatically. For other digestive problems, chew the seeds whole or ground, serve with food or as a tea.
Anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, & anti-inflammatory
Cardamom has properties that can help relieve swelling and pain in mucous membranes, sinus, mouth, and throat. Its essential oils inhibit the growth of viruses, bacteria, mold, and fungus. The essential oils and vitamins in cardamom also clean up free radicals which helps resist cellular aging.
Detoxify & Diuretic
Cardamom is a diuretic and assists in eliminating waste through the kidneys and cleans the urinary tract and bladder as well. It assists in removing waste, salt, excess water and additional toxins. It can also provide relief with other urinary problems including relief from the discomfort of passing kidney and gall stones. One side note is that while cardamom relieves the discomfort of a number of urinary issues, it isn’t treating the underlying problem and should not be considered a cure.
Ayurvedic medicine uses cardamom tea as a way to treat depression. It can also be added to a bath as a form of aromatherapy and as a way to reduce stress.
As a result of its diuretic properties, cardamom can assist in lowering blood pressure. It also helps prevent life threatening blood clots by preventing platelet aggregation and them sticking to the artery walls.
Cardamom’s anti-carcinogenic properties have been studied in animals and shows promise in protecting against cancer, inhibiting its growth and even killing some kinds of cancer cells. It contains IC3 and DIM, two well-known cancer fighting phytochemicals. They respond especially well to hormone related cancers such as breast cancer, prostate cancer and ovarian cancer and recent research suggests that including cardamom in your diet regularly may assist in preventing these forms of cancer.
Cardamom oil is an anti-spasmodic and can help relieve hiccups and other involuntary muscle spasms such as intestinal and stomach cramps.
Don’t take large amounts of cardamom (ie. More than what is normally found in food) if you have gallstones because it can trigger gallstone colic.
Gum & dental health
Along with aiding the digestion, cardamom helps prevent halitosis and can be used to treat mouth ulcers and other infections in the mouth and throat. It is also used in South East Asia to fight tooth decay and gum disease.