The queen of spices cardamom or elaichi is known for its rich aroma and flavour. As a result, it has been extensively used for culinary purposes. It lends its aroma and flavour to both sweet and savoury dishes. It has impressive medicinal properties for which it has been used in traditional medicine for ages.
Cardamom seeds contain an essential oil, which is composed of phytochemicals like alpha-terpineol 45%, myrcene 27%, limonene 8%, and menthone 6%—all of which impart therapeutic properties and sweet aroma to this flavourful herb. According to Ayurveda, cardamom seeds have an influence on all three doshas.
Ever wondered why your grandmother or mother always kept a few pods of cardamom in their purse or travel bag? Well the answer is in the surprising health benefits of cardamom.
The essential oil menthone in cardamom helps in alleviating gastrointestinal problems such as acidity, flatulence, indigestion, and stomach aches. It is a good digestive stimulant and carminative. The main indicating symptom for using elaichi is a burning sensation in the stomach. Therefore, cardamom can be used in all types of diseases having burning sensation as a presenting symptom.
Cardamom has antiemetic properties, which can help with mild vomiting and nausea. It is more beneficial when vomit comes out with a sour taste and burning sensation. So if you tend to have motion sickness while travelling, now you know why you need to keep cardamom in your travel kit.
Cardamom has potent antimicrobial properties which in addition to good dental hygiene can help get rid of bad breath forever. The phytochemical present in cardamom oil, cineole, is a potent antiseptic known for killing the bacteria causing bad breath and preventing cavities and tooth decay. A recent study provides evidence that cardamom fruit and seed extracts through their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties may be therapeutic agents of interest against periodontal infections.
Cardamom has antitussive and mucolytic properties which helps in reducing mucus production and eliminate cough and cold from the body. It increases blood circulation in the lungs and helps improve the respiratory functions.
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Cardamom acts as a potent detoxifier for the body. It reduces toxins in the blood and increases the elimination of these toxins by inducing mild diuresis. Evidence shows that the essential oils and phytochemicals present in cardamom provide detoxifying effects.
As a natural therapy cardamom can also help people who want to quit nicotine. Chewing cardamom pods 4 to 6 times a day reduces craving for nicotine, restlessness, irritability, impatience, and anxiety. It also improves sleep quality and prevents depression.
In addition to lifestyle corrections required in diet, exercise, sleep and stress—herbs like cardamom act as supporting agents to help combat diseases. Cardamom has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that can help. A meta-analysis demonstrated that green cardamom intake significantly reduced triglycerides levels which may have played an indirect role in improved clinical symptoms in diseases with metabolic disorders.
Studies on the health benefits of cardamom in diabetic patients are very limited. Yet a recent study in 2019 showed that cardamom can decrease HbA1c, insulin level, HOMA-IR and TG level in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients. Even though there was a reduction seen in post meal sugars, but there was no change observed in fasting sugars.