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Cardamom: The Surprising Health Benefits Of The "Queen Of Spice"

Cardamom: The Surprising Health Benefits Of The “Queen Of Spice”

A close relative to ginger, cardamom, also known as “The Queen Of Spices,” is the third most expensive cooking spice in the world behind vanilla and saffron.

It also has potent medicinal properties and is an essential ingredient of Ayurvedic medicine.

There are two kinds of cardamom: 

  • Green cardamom – Its scientific name is Elettaria cardamomum
  • Black cardamom – Its scientific name is Amomum subulatum

Both are medicinal, but the green type is the more beneficial of the two. This article will concentrate on Elettaria cardamomum only.

What Makes Green Cardamom Essential For Health?

Green cardamom contains a vast amount of essential oils in comparison to other types of cardamoms. It has better quality and more quantity of these oils. Here are two constituents that give it its potent health benefits:

Monoterpenes

Green cardamom’s essential oils “are particularly rich in oxygenated monoterpenes (88.7%) with a dominance of α-terpinyl acetate (45.6%), 1,8-cineole (26%).

Monoterpenes are potent compounds with medicinal properties that include:

  • “... antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, anticancer, antiarrhythmic, anti-aggregating, local anesthetic, antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory, antihistaminic and antispasmodic activities. Monoterpenes also act as regulators of growth, heat, transpiration, tumor inhibitors, oxidative phosphorylation inhibitors, insect repellants, feline and canine attractants, and antidiabetics.

1,8-cineole (eucalyptol)

The monoterpenes are incredibly rich in a compound called 1,8-cineole ( Also called eucalyptol).

Eucalyptol has been proven to have many health benefits, especially for respiratory problems such as rhinosinusitis, bronchitis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

1,8-Cineole is also anti-inflammatory, decreases pulmonary inflammation, helps for colitis, Alzheimer’s, pancreatitis, etc. It can also regulate cytokines, which can ultimately stop a cytokine storm. (A cytokine storm is when your immune system overreacts to an infection causing excessive inflammation that can even kill you)

α-terpinyl acetate

Another compound found in cardamom’s monoterpenes is α-terpinyl acetate. One study showed that it is incredibly useful for Alzheimer’s Disease. It can protect the brain and help with memory as you age.

new 2020 study has also shown that its essential oils are an effective antibacterial against S. aureus, E. coli, and S. cerevisiae, three potent and harmful bacterias. 

Cardamonin

Another potent component of cardamom is cardamonin, which is in the flavonoid/chalcone family. Its name is derived from cardamom because it is found in high quantity in green cardamom spice. (Chalcones are cytoprotective “they protect cells in the body” and are known to fight many diseases).

Cardamonin’s health applications include an anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiviral, anticancer, antioxidant, good for the arteries, etc.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the cardamom’s therapeutic uses.

Cardamom: The Surprising Health Benefits Of The "Queen Of Spice"

Therapeutic Uses Of Cardamom

Respiratory Problems

Cardamom can help with respiratory problems due to its content of 1,8-cineole. 

Studies have shown that 1,8 cineole is useful in the treatment of asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), bronchitis, and sinusitis.

In one human trial, 1,8 cineole significantly improved bacterial sinusitis.

Seventy-six patients with acute rhinosinusitis were given 200 mg, three times per day, for seven days in place of antibiotics. 

On the 4th and 7th day, they were evaluated. The results showed a significant improvement in all aspects of the sinus infection when compared to the placebo group. (Source, pg. 3)

For Asthma

The compounds found in cardamom can relax the airway passages and create a bronchodilatory effect similar to that of an asthma pump.

Long-distance runners use it because its compounds line the respiratory tract and allow more air to enter the lungs.

Can Regulate The Immune System

One study showed that cardamom is immunomodulatory. In other words, it can regulate your immune system, depending on the circumstances. It can be pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory.

It can help fight infection but also will not allow your immune system to overreact to cause excessive inflammation (AKA – the cytokine storm).

It can also significantly magnify the cytotoxic (deadly to infectious cells) activity of Natural Killer cells. NK cells play a critical role in fighting infections. 

Skin Health

Cardamom essential oils (CEO), particularly 1,8 cineole (eucalyptol) has been proven in a study to be extremely beneficial to skin health.

The study showed that the topical use of its essential oils protects human skin cells. It also provided the “first evidence to support the anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties of CEO in human dermal fibroblasts.” (Source, pg. 5)

Dermal fibroblasts are the major cell types found in your skin. Cardamon can play a vital role in wound healing by regulating inflammation.

It may also protect you from skin cancer. One study showed that it has the potential to be used as a chemopreventive agent to prevent papilloma genesis (cancerous tumor growths on the skin).

Teeth Health

Cardamom has the potential to mechanically clean teeth. It can stimulate the salivary glands, and its fibrous other coat can help get rid of bacteria on the teeth.

Periodontal Infections (Gum Disease)

In a study published in February 2020, it proved for the first time that cardamom is effective against numerous bacterias that can cause gum disease. It was able to inhibit the replication of the bacteria.

Can Help In Quitting Smoking

Cardamom flavored gum was effective in reducing nicotine withdrawal symptoms associated with people trying to stop smoking.

A significant reason why people have a hard time quitting smoking is due to the nicotine withdrawal urges. It can help in this department.

Breast Cancer

Due to its cardamonin content, cardamom can help fight breast cancer. One study showed that it could kill breast cancer cells and inhibit tumor growth.

Another study found that cardamonin modulates breast cancer cell metabolism, suppresses the cancer’s progression, and proposes its potential for breast cancer treatment.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women worldwide. Cardamom can help treat and rid of this type of cancer.

Another research paper said the following concerning breast cancer:

According to data published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, cardamom and its compounds can kill cancer cells and impair the growth of new cancer cells, and it can regulate gene expression of factors that control cancer growth.

The scientific evidence confirms that cardamom can fight breast cancer.

Can Lower Blood Pressure

In another study, 20 people with high blood pressure were treated with green cardamom powder for twelve weeks.

At the end of the twelve-week study, the results showed a significant decrease in blood pressure.

In a recently published review, dated September 17, 2020, it confirmed that green cardamom could lower blood pressure and much more due, in part, to its 1,8 cineole content.

Also, due to cardamom’s sedative and diuretic effects, it is another fascinating way to lower blood pressure.

Digestive System

Cardamom is considered a carminative. (It relieves intestinal gas)

Research shows that it displays both gut stimulatory and inhibitory effects. It can increase or decrease digestive enzyme discharge. It is gut-modulatory.

It has been useful for indigestion, abdominal spasms, diarrhea, and colic.

Cardamom is used for gastrointestinal problems and has also been shown to inhibit gastric lesions created by ingested substances, such as aspirin. It can protect your gut lining.

Cardamom: The Surprising Health Benefits Of The "Queen Of Spice"

Nutrient Composition Of Green Cardamom

The minerals and essential compounds found in cardamom is astounding: (Source, pg. 4)

The following is per capsule:

Carbohydrates (%) 68.2 

Protein (%) 10.6 

Fat (%) 2.4 

Ash (%) 5.3 

Acid insoluble ash (%) 1.76 

Crude fibre (%) 16.3 

Phenols (%) 3.26 

Minerals (mg/100g)

Calcium 92.7 

Phosphorus 188.5 

Sodium 17.0

Potassium 124.2 

Iron 12.8

Copper 0.5 

Magnesium 181.5 

Manganese 41.7 

Zinc 3.6  

Sulfur 100.8

Metabolites (μg/g) H3 Tag

Flavonoids

Catechin 281.8 

Myricetin 18.6 

Quercetin 4.9 

Kaempferol 8.7 

Total flavonoids 314.0 

Carotenoids

Lutein 2.4 

β-carotene 0.5 

As you can see, it is exceptionally high in “Total Flavonoids.” What are flavonoids? They are natural substances well known for their beneficial effects on health.

They are potent antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and much more. Flavonoids are potential natural drugs that can prevent many diseases.

Cardamom is also an incredible source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous. These four minerals are all essential to good health. 

The fascinating coincidence is that these four minerals are interrelated and work together to keep you healthy.

Summary

Cardamom is an incredible source of essential compounds that can protect you from many diseases and ailments.

Please consult your doctor before deciding to use it to determine if you have any physical condition that may cause side effects. 

It is a natural substance and mostly safe.