Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is one of the “spice” essential oils, although it doesn’t get as much press in aromatherapy use as its more popular cousins such as ginger (Zingiber officinale) and black pepper (Piper nigrum). Here is a quick look at cardamom essential oil!
Historical Use of Cardamom
Cardamom has been used in both Indian and Chinese Medicine for over 3,000 years for the treatment of respiratory problems, digestive problems, urinary infections, and fever. Cardamom was used in ancient Egypt as a perfume and in ancient Greece to treat coughs and stomach problems. It traveled the spice routes to reach the Western world.
Cardamom also earns a mention in several historical texts for its medicinal uses, including the Vedic medicinal texts, and those of Hippocrates and Dioscorides. The Indians believed that cardamom was an aphrodisiac; it was also used in many Eastern culinary dishes, and has been used as domestic spice for thousands of years. The Hindu name for cardamom is derivative for the botanical name for cardamom, Elettaria.
Botanical Profile of Cardamom
Cardamom is a member of the Zingiberaceae plant family. It is sometimes known as cardamon. Cardamom is a perennial herb which is native to tropical Asia, although cardamom essential oil is now produced commercially in Sri Lanka, India, and Guatemala. Cardamom grows to a height of approximately 13 feet; it has tall stalks with lance-shaped leaves and flowers of white-yellow. The flowers of cardamom eventually produce seed pods which contain the essential oil.
Cardamom is botanically related to ginger and consequently it can be used as an alternative essential oil because it has similar therapeutic properties to ginger essential oil.
Extraction of Cardamom
Cardamom essential oil is extracted from the dried seeds of the plant by steam distillation; it is a colorless or pale yellow essential oil. Cardamom essential oil has a warm, sweet, spicy aroma with woody undertones. It is certainly one of my favorite essential oils with regard to aroma!
Therapeutic Benefits of Cardamom Essential Oil
Cardamom essential oil is antiseptic, digestive, diuretic, carminative, expectorant, stimulant and a tonic. It is useful in addressing symptoms of flatulence, nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion, colic, nervous and mental stress, coughs and respiratory problems. Cardamom is also used as a perfume and fragrance ingredient in cosmetics, soaps and perfumes, in pharmaceutical preparations and as a flavor ingredient in culinary recipes for curry and spice dishes.
Safety of Cardamom Essential Oil in Aromatherapy
In general, cardamom essential oil is relatively non-sensitizing, non-irritating and non-toxic in aromatherapy use. However, it is wise to exercise caution and take professional advice if unfamiliar with the use of essential oils. Sensitive individuals may exhibit different reactions. In addition, ensure that the essential oil is diluted in a carrier oil/lotion and not applied directly to the skin.
Learn More About Essential Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie
If you would like to learn more about essential oils and their use in aromatherapy practice, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of Aromatics (TM) Home Study Program.
Davis, Patricia, 1999 Aromatherapy An A – Z UK: Vermilion
Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils UK: Thorsons
Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry, a UK-certified aromatherapist, published author in aromatherapy, an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), an aromatherapy business owner, a consultant, and Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.