Synonyms: Green cardamom, small cardamom, Amomum elettaria
Aroma: Warm and spicy with a slightly penetrating camphoraceous-cineole like odour
Colour: Colourless to pale yellow, darkens when exposed to sunlight
Plant: A leafy stemmed shrub up to 4 metres high with very long leaves bearing small, yellow flowers with purple tips. The oblong grey fruit contains upwards of 20 dark red-brown seeds and are gathered just before they are ripe.
Main Growing Areas: Sri Lanka, India, Guatemala and El Salvador
Major Constituents: 1,8 cineole, alpha-terpineol, linalool, terpinene-4-ol, alpha-terpinyl acetate, geraniol
Interesting snippets: Reputed to be one of the oldest known spices.
Cardamom has been used in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine for over 3000 years and was brought to Europe by the Greeks in the 4th century BC.
It is a principal ingredient in curry powder, and is used to flavour pastries, liqueurs and chewing gum.
Interestingly, Scandinavians use more cardamom than anyone else in the Western Hemisphere. They use it to flavour breads, cakes, candies, sausages and other meats. Their use of it originated with the Vikings who more than a 1000 years ago purchased it in Constantinople for their use back home.
Part of Plant used / Extraction: Seeds/steam distillation
Therapeutic actions: Analgesic, antispasmodic, digestive, nausea and vomiting, colic, cramps, chronic bronchitis, lethargy, flatulence, coughs and colds
Emotional and Spiritual: Nervous exhaustion, depression, poor concentration, overthinking and burdened by worries, feelings of weakness and fatigue. Calming, grounding, soothing & uplifting emotionally. Cardamom EO can help restore an “appetite for life”, our ability to digest, assimilate & be nourished by life.
Joy Bowles writes that psychologically cardamom seems to open and widen the imagination
Gabriel Mojay writes that cardamom is indicated for poor concentration, overthinking and worry – especially where there is a degree of nervous exhaustion. He further states that whenever we feel deprived of opportunity or generosity and fear that we may be denied fulfillment, cardamom oil reminds us of life’s true abundance and restores our desire for contentment.
Valerie Ann Worwood writes, cardamom gives us wisdom when we are overburdened with responsibilities, when we need to tap into our generosity of spirit to allow our hearts to be open and expansive in order to be gracious in our dealings with others. Also it gives encouragement when we need to take a step forward to offer a hand in friendship when we see that a person is in need.
Barry Kapp writes that cardamom taps into the corridor that leads us to our higher selves in a gentle and positive way. She expels fear, being stuck, frozenness and gives us feelings of courage, stamina, patience and strength.
Keim Loughran and Bull suggest cardamom helps to teach others with a grounded, clear, heart centred perspective and also helps us to accept life as it is while encouraging an enthusiasm for it.
Safety: Non-irritating, non-sensitising, non-toxic. Tisserand and Young suggest not applying cardamom to or near the face of infants or children due to her high level of 1,8 cineole.
Note: Cardamom is often adulterated with 1,8 cineole from eucalyptus or camphor oil
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Bowles E.J, The A to Z of Essential Oils. New Burlington Books (2003)
Kapp B, Wisdom of the Earth Speaks, The Truth About Medicinal Aromatherapy. www.WisdomoftheEarth.com (2008)
Keim Loughran J, Bull R, Aromatherapy & Subtle energy techniques, Frog Books (2000)
Mojay G, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. Hodder and Stoughton (1996)
Tisserand R and Young R, Essential Oil Safety Second Edition, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014
Worwood V.A, The Fragrant Heavens. Doubleday Publishing UK (1999)