Cardamom: Benefits, Uses And Side Effects

Cardamom pods and seeds can be used as a spice or as tea.

Cardamom is an aromatic spice from the seeds of the cardamom plant, widely used in both cooking and natural medicine. Its many benefits have been exploited in India for years, and recently this plant has become a common alternative medicine remedy worldwide. Traditionally associated benefits include anti-diabetic, diuretic, and digestive properties.

In this article, we will explain what this herb is and its most outstanding properties and benefits. Finally, we will also mention its side effects.

What is cardamom?

Cardamom seeds come from a tree with the same name that is often used as a condiment for its special flavor and aroma in both sweet and savory dishes, as well as tea. This plant is a type of perennial herb within the Zingiberaceae family, to which ginger also belongs, and its scientific name is Elettaria Cardamomum.

There are different types of cardamom, but  the most commonly used is true or green (Elettaria Cardamomum) and black cardamom (Amomum subulatum). In both species, you can use either cardamom pods or open them and use its small brown seeds, normally ground.

Its taste is strong, between spicy and sweet, and is very aromatic, with floral notes, so it is often combined with spices such as cinnamon for use in infusions and teas.

As for its origin, this spice is native to the rainforests of India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, although nowadays has come to be cultivated in countries such as Nepal, Thailand and several areas of Central America.

Cardamom benefits and how to use it

Cardamom is considered a highly effective herb because it doesn't only benefit our body but it also has many nutrients that help our health. In spite of being a spice obtained from plants, it contains very necessary oils in the organism for its correct functioning.

It contains high doses of starch, which make it a nutritious and energizing food, and significant amounts of fiber, to maintain intestinal regularity. Also, it is considered a source of minerals such as sodium, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins of groups A, B, and C.

Next, we will see  the 8 main cardamom benefits:

1. Anti-cancer 

Cardamom has high antioxidant levels that combat the free radicals that cause cells to age and that, consequently, can lead to the generation of cancer cells.

In fact, according to a study by Hai University in Saudi Arabia, this spice showed a possible reduction in the appearance and number of tumor formations, inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and stimulating cancer cell death.

However, in no case is scientific evidence conclusive and this type of remedy can never replace medical treatment.

2. Anti-diabetic 

Cardamom seeds have substances that favor the natural production of manganese in our organism. This is an essential mineral for health in general and, specifically, at blood level.

When the levels of manganese in our blood are low, it is more difficult for our metabolism to eliminate the excess of this sugar, a factor that increases the possibilities of having diabetes and, for those who already have it, it intensifies it.

Cardamom tea is one of the most common ways to take this seed.

3. Benefits bones

As a rich source of calcium, this spice protects both bones and cartilage, as well as accelerating their formation and regeneration. For this reason,  cardamom is a natural complement in the treatment of rheumatic diseases  such as osteoporosis, arthritis, sclerosis, and osteoarthritis.

4. Promotes digestion

In traditional Chinese medicine, cardamom pods have been used for the treatment of digestive problems, and nowadays studies are suggesting that it helps the different stages of digestion much more than other spices.

Also, cardamom tea is used for problems such as colon spasms, heartburn, gas, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome, among others.

5. Anti-aging

Thanks to the antioxidants contained in cardamom, it increases collagen production and blood circulation. Therefore, consuming this spice acts as a natural anti-aging that revitalizes the skin and makes it look radiant.

6. Regulates mood

There are different ways in which this spice improves mood. On the one hand, cardamom tea can help reduce stress.

Also, the oils contained in cardamom pods are used in aromatherapy, a useful way to improve mood. These same oils mixed with others can also be used to massage and relieve muscle pain.

7. Diuretic

Cardamom is used to help with urinary problems. This spice acts as a diuretic, calming the burning or pain when urinating and the frequent need to urinate.

Cardamom pods are used in aromatherapy because of its powerful taste and smell. 

8. Good for the heart

The nutrients contained in cardamom seeds such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium, are vital to the heart's proper functioning. They help maintain a steady pace and healthy blood pressure levels.

Also, in a study by the Department of Medicine RNT Medical College in India, after testing twenty individuals with primary hypertension for two weeks by ingesting three grams of cardamom powder daily, this spice had helped significantly reduce blood pressure.

Cardamom side effects

Although cardamom is a spice with many benefits for our health, there are also some contraindications and side effects that are associated with its consumption, if not done correctly or in large quantities. 

On the one hand, its consumption is not recommended for pregnant women, as this can favor menstrual bleeding and, consequently, a possible abortion.

People with a digestive disorder, such as Crohn's disease or Dumping Syndrome, should also refrain from using it. Likewise, it is not recommended to take cardamom tea for those who suffer from an irritable colon, as it has a stimulating effect on bowel function.

As for the main cardamom side effects, these are the most common ones:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Respiratory allergies

It is not recommended to exceed its consumption in more than 1.5g of ground seeds per day.

Finally, it is necessary to specify that, although many of these benefits of cardamom pods and seeds have some scientific backing, there is no scientific evidence 100% reliable, so in no case can this spice be considered a substitute for medical treatments for diseases and conditions mentioned throughout the article.

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