Cardamom is nothing new to Indian cooking. If there is a sweet dish, it is most likely that it will have ground Elaichi or Cardamom in it. It is used unanimously in both Indian and Western Sweet dishes, be it Kheer or Pudding. My friend’s expertise is in Cardamom tea which I get to sip whenever I visit her. I never bothered about how expensive Cardamom (Elaichi) is, or rather whether it is so or not, until I read about the medicinal values of cardamom. Perhaps, being expensive is the main reason why we bought it in small packets and used sparingly and on special occasions.
If Tulsi is the “Queen of Herbs”, then Cardamom is “The Queen of Spices”, native to India. Cardamom grows as a perennial herb in countries like India, Sri Lanka and Guatemala. In India, the fresh aroma of cardamom pervades places like Cochin, Munnar, Thiruvananthapuram, Wayanad, Mysore and Coorg. Though we do not look at cardamom as a medicinal herb, it is referred to in the Vedic texts and in Ayurvedic medicines.
It contains volatile oil (consisting of cineol, terpineol, terpinene, limonene, sabinene, and terpineol) that gives it the health benefits. The volatile oil present in cardamom has antimicrobial, analgesic and cardiotonic properties. Cardamom is an effective remedy for various ailments like anorexia and respiratory problems like asthma. Different cultures like the Ancient Greek, the Roman, the Egyptian and the Arab found the aphrodisiac qualities as well as the use of cardamom as a romantic catalyst.
Cardamom is rich in phytochemical cineole which imparts many healing powers to the spice. Cardamom stimulates the digestive system, soothes acidity, relieves flatulence, increases appetite and strengthens overall digestion activities. It has great therapeutic properties if used in herbal teas. It is also found effective for heartburn and gastric troubles. Deservedly called the ‘Grains of Paradise’, Cardamom is used in traditional medicines for colds, bronchitis, fevers and liver, kidney and bladder problems.
It has anti-inflammatory properties to reduce muscle spasms and is antispasmodic. It can help with mouth odour, fight teeth and gum infections, detoxify the caffeines in the body, fight infections, cleanse our vital organs like kidney and also act as an expectorant. What not, depression is also claimed to be alleviated through the aromatic Cardamom tea.
Next time you drink tea, remember to add Cardamom!