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Elettaria cardamomum


Elettaria cardamomum

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Cardamom, cardamum, kardamom, cardamom ginger

Original Habitat

Cardamom is native to the Indian subcontinent, specifically in Sri Lanka and India and has now been cultivated in Central America and Southeast Asia. Cardamom is more commonly used as a spice and is highly priced.[1] This spice is very sought after in Arab countries and used as a medicinal under the Unani system of medicine.[2]

Plant Part Used

Fruits, Seeds


The essential oil is used as a flavouring in foods and beverages. It has limited use in the fragrance industry, but is found in soaps, lotions and massage oils. In therapeutic aromatherapy, it is used as a single oil and in condition specific formulas.


The steam distilled essential oil of cardamom is very thin in consistency and is light yellow in colour. The aroma is balsamic and spicy.

The E. cardamomum plant grows to four metres tall and has distinct physical similarities to the ginger plant. The dark green, soft leaves grow to about half a meter long and contain the aromatic pods and seeds of which the oil is derived.

Chemical Constituents

Alpha-terpinyl acetate
Linalyl acetate
Linalool [3]

Medicinal Uses


 Gastroprotective: The essential oil of Cardamom is commonly used for digestive issues and gastrointestinal maladies. In animal studies, cardamom oil exhibited preventative effects against aspirin-induced ulcers, partially due to its ability to increase mucus output in the stomach. Additionally, the essential oil of Cardamom was shown to decrease gastric motility.[2][4]

Anti-inflammatory: An in vitro study examined volatile oils on oedema induced by carrageenan.   Cardamom oil reduced the paw oedema up to 12 hours by leaching cholesterols from the affected area.  The effect was classified as comparable to diclofenac, a commonly used treatment for oedema.[5]

Antispasmodic: Cardamom displayed antispasmodic activity in rabbits with acetylcholine induced intestinal spasm. The antispasmodic activity of cardamom is thought to occur through blocking muscarinic receptors.[6]

Anticarcinogenic: When tested among other essential oils, cardamom ingestion in animals elevated sulfhydryl levels significantly and was the only essential oil to do so.[7] Other studies have demonstrated the anti-carcinogenic activity of cardamom by inhibiting the formation of DNA adducts.[8]

Traditional Use

Gastrointestinal Disorders+++
Stress and nervous tension++ [2][4][6]

Currently, there is no clinical evidence to support the anecdotal or traditional use of this oil.

Contraindications and Precautions

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Not to be used by children.

Not to be applied directly to the skin without a carrier oil


[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]

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  1)  Botanical Info


1.         Govindarajan VS. Cardamom--production, technology, chemistry, and quality. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1982;16(3):229-326.

2.         Jamal A. Gastroprotective effect of cardamom, Elettaria cardamomum Maton. fruits in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 16 Jan 2006;103(2):149-153.

3.         Marongiu B. Comparative analysis of the oil and supercritical CO2 extract of Elettaria cardamomum (L.) Maton. J Agric Food Chem. 6 Oct 2004;52(20):6278-6282.

4.         Jafri MA. Evaluation of the gastric antiulcerogenic effect of large cardamom (fruits of Amomum subulatum Roxb). J Ethnopharmacol. May 2001;75(2-3):89-94.

5.         Sapra B. Role of volatile oil pretreatment and skin cholesterol on permeation of ion-paired diclofenac sodium. Indian J Exp Biol. Sep 2000;38(9):895-900.

6.         Al-Zuhair H. Pharmacological studies of cardamom oil in animals. Pharmacol Res. Jul-Aug 1996;34(1-2):79-82.

7.         Banerjee S. Influence of certain essential oils on carcinogen-metabolizing enzymes and acid-soluble sulfhydryls in mouse liver. Nutr Cancer. 1994;21(3):263-269.

8.         Hashim S. Modulatory effects of essential oils from spices on the formation of DNA adduct by aflatoxin B1 in vitro. Nutr Cancer. 1994;21(2):169-175.

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