Cardamom essential oil comes from the seed of the cardamom plant from steam distillation. Steam distillation of plants for medicine dates back as far as 2000 years ago. Cardamom oil may help the body because it helps immunity, acts as a decongestant, antioxidant, expectorant, tonic, carminative, and has anti-inflammatory effects.
My goal is to give you history of healthcare and review current research so that we can learn from the past and inform the future. In this blog, I am writing about cardamom and its history as food and medicine.
Why don’t we find cardamom in pharmacies anymore? It used to be found readily in pharmacies.
Plants As Medicine History
Here is an interesting piece of medical history: plant medicines were largely banned from medical schools due to the single-handed ambitions of a man named Abraham Flexner, the author of the Flexner Report.
Here is an amazing fact: he wasn’t even a doctor. He was a teacher by trade.
He banned many things that shouldn’t have been banned, but he also did some good things for making medical schools more rigorous.
Upon Abraham Flexner’s strong persuasion and bias, plants as medicine vanished from medical schools. The medical schools teaching plants were completely shut down by 1930 as a result of Flexner.
One man single-handedly stopped the use of plants as medicine.
Fast forward 90 years. Plants as medicine are a lost art. The science of plant medicine, even when conducted today, remains largely neglected.
After all, who will disseminate the information? Established dogma and funneling of resources are almost exclusively dedicated to pharmaceuticals.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
I am certain that the rise of plants (again) is closely related to the failings and greed of pharmaceuticals that emerged as a result of the Flexner report.
What about Plant and Supplement Regulation?
One might argue that plant medicines aren’t tightly regulated. Does regulation help?
Take a look at the food industry. Regulations are notoriously easy to manipulate and can result in less-than-savory products. Regulation leads to more packaging, and processing of foods. The rise in obesity is related to these products.
Another example of failed regulations: Stomach drugs (PPIs) are taken like copiously, with little regard for their damages to health. These damages can include increased risk of heart disease, bone loss, dementia, and more.
Where is the regulation on OTC’s when it is needed? It doesn’t exist as much as it should.
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Differences Between Conventional Medicine and Alternative Medicine
Should we talk about plants as medicine? 100% yes. Plants fit in the area of food as well. We need to bridge the gap between alternative and conventional medicine.
I was trained in a most conventional way. We work around drugs. Period. End of Discussion. This isn’t how we heal, as it turns out.
When people ignore what they put in their body, the worse off they become. Most people think a drug will cure them and are sadly disappointed.
I am drawn to what the earth gives us for healing. Cardamom’s healing properties drew me in and I will explain why.
We can largely heal ourselves by giving the body what it needs. Hippocrates knew this. Many functional medical providers know this now as well.
Sometimes I see people on ten prescription drugs. I wonder in what world of research has this scenario ever been played out.
The short answer: it hasn’t. We live in a world of double standards. Finger-pointing at the supplement industry while pharmaceuticals and OTC’s harm people at an alarming frequency.
Cardamom History as Medicine
The topic of cardamom actually came to me, beckoned me.
I was at an antique store and I found a bottle labeled Tinctura Cardamomi Composita.
Tinctura Cardamomi Composita. What is it? It is a blend of cardamom, cassia cinnamon, caraway, cochineal and a base of alcohol.
Tinctures are simply medicines made by dissolving a drug in alcohol. Textbook Of Pharmacology, Therapeutics And Materia Medica by T. Lauder Brunton, written in 1885.
Cardamom tincture was also described in the King’s American Dispensary in the late 1800’s as well.
This formula was found in pharmacies all across the country and then vanished with the Flexner Report.
Tintura Cardamomi Composita historically was used for digestive ailments and lung disorders.
What is Cardamom ?
Cardamom’s botanical name is Elettaria cardamomum. It is in the Zingerberaceae family (ginger).
Why Use Cardamom Essential Oil?
Essential oils are highly concentrated in aromatic compounds that benefit health. You can use a much smaller amount than the seeds to achieve health benefits.
Cardamom Essential Oil History
Cardamom essential oil comes from the seed of the cardamom plant from steam distillation. Steam distillation dates back as far as 2000 years ago.
Essential oils were being used as far back as 4500 BC by the Egyptians for medicinal uses and likely as far back as 20,000 years ago. Cardamom benefits were realized as far back in the 4th century BC.
Cardamom Essential Oil Properties
Cardamom Essential’s primary constituents are:
- Terpinyl acetate
- 1,8 Cineole
Cardamom Essential Oil Aroma and Character
Each plant has unique character. This is how we can easily tell the difference between cardamom and ginger, even though they are related.
It has the aroma characteristics of spicy, rich, warm, aromatic, and slightly woody.
Maybe if we focused on a plant’s character, we could find both an emotional AND physical gain.
Cardamom imparts feelings of invigoration and relaxation at the same time.
Cardamom’s Warming Qualities
Cardamom has a very warm character about it. Cardamom warms in a much more subtle way than hot peppers. It is related to ginger, which is brings heat to the body.
How does cardamom warm the body and why? And could this character be good for us?
Since early recorded history in Aruvedic medicine, cardamom has been used for its warming qualities. This effect brings balance back to the body when needed.
Cardamom essential oil improves circulation, which may explain why it has a warming effect on the body.
Cardamom is used for:
- Treating heartburn
- Intestinal spasms and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Diarrhea, gas, and constipation
- Liver health
- Gallbladder complaints
- Loss of appetite
- Common cold and infections
- Cough and bronchitis
- Urinary issues
- High blood pressure
People also use cardamom for mental fatigue, loss of appetite, menstrual cramps, pancreatitis, colic, and more.
Scientifically Proven Benefits of Cardamom
How Does Cardamom Work?
Cardamom is complex in its chemistry. Cardamom may help the body because it helps immunity, acts as a decongestant, antioxidant, expectorant, tonic, carminative, and has anti-inflammatory effects.
Cardamom Oil Uses for Digestion
Cardamom has anti-nausea effects [R].
Stomach ulcers can be caused by alcohol and aspirin as well as NSAID type drugs. Cardamom reduced stomach ulcer formation completely using a cardamom extract in mice.
Cardamom helped improved digestive function in animals by numerous actions with numerous benefits [R].
Cardamom Reduces Blood Pressure
Patients with newly diagnosed high blood pressure received cardamom powder for 12 weeks. They had significant improvements in blood pressure.
Cardamom May Reduce Diabetes
Cardamom improved liver function, reduced cholesterol and blood glucose levels in rats with diabetes. Cardamom worked as well as prescription drug pioglitazone to improve these measurements in this study.
Cardamom Reduces Pain
Muscle spasms can cause many kinds of pain.
Cardamom reduces muscle spasms and pain by blocking muscarinic receptor in rats. Translation: cardamom reduces nerve-induced pain. This kind of pain can be almost anywhere in the body, including the stomach.
When I apply cardamom essential oil to my temples, it makes my tension headache go away almost immediately.
Cardamom May Reduce Cancer
Cardamom also reduced the appearance of non-melanoma skin cancers in rats [R].
Cardamom May Protect the Heart
It also reduced blood pressure and had a diuretic effect in animals [R].
Cardamom is Calming
Cardamom Essential Oil Fights Germs
Cardamom Essential Oil Fights Bad Breath
Cardamom essential oil can reduce bad breath because it has potentantibacterial and antifungal properties against odor causing strains of Candida and Streptococcus.
How to Use Cardamom Essential Oil
Cardamom Uses in Cooking
Cardamom isn’t just medicine, it is a beautiful flavoring for food and drinks. It is known as the Queen of Spices.
Simple ways to add Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG) Doterracardamom oil to foods:
- Add a drop to oatmeal before serving
- Spice up drip coffee or brewed tea
- Add to a latte
- Flavor yogurt without all the sugar
- Spice up your meat, chicken or fish
- Blends great with curries
- Scent your rice or other starch with a drop or two with coconut oil
Cardamom Essential Oil Dosing
Generally, 1 drop is enough. Small amounts used every 2-4 hours is better than large amounts used all at once.
Take Doterra essential oil 1-2 drops orally under the tongue in a capsule for bad breath or for stomach discomfort.
Add 1-2 drops to season your foods.
Apply topically for pain or discomfort. Use a carrier oil of coconut oil to dilute if you have sensitive skin or for using on children.
Apply to chest or under nose for congestion.
Diffuse cardamom essential oil for cleansing the air, imparting positive mood, and to improve lung health.
For topical, oral, and aromatic use only high-quality CPTG essential oils.
Some websites claim that cardamom essential oil is an aphrodisiac. While this may be true, there is no direct research at this point for this claim.
However, indirect evidence suggests it may help sexual function by improving the circulatory system. It may heighten sexual responsiveness because it overall benefits well-being.
Rich in minerals
Per gram, cardamom does indeed contain minerals like magnesium, manganese, and copper. However, the amount you would need to eat of this spice to get a significant amount of minerals is not realistic.
Choose only Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG) Doterra cardamom essential oil for internal use. Don’t be fooled by organic labeling or by “natural” brands. These can still use dangerous solvents and contain harmful compounds.
No known drug interactions occur when using CPTG cardamom oil.
Doterra Cardamom essential oil is safe with no known toxicity if using pure Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade. A little goes a long way; you only need to use 1-2 drops.
As with anything, consult with your doctor before using cardamom as medicine. Caution with use during pregnancy.
It’s time to be healthy. In that context, cardamom essential oil is a good addition to protect our digestive system and provide natural relief from muscle spasms and pain.
Viewing plants as medicine with an open mind will help reduce healthcare burdens we have today.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body and is shared for educational purposes only. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement regimen or lifestyle.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 20 years, has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. Has researched supplements and plants as medicine throughout her career. Loves helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.