Scientific name: Elettaria cardamomum

Common names: Bastard cardamom, Cardamom seeds, Cardamon

Ayurvedic names: Ela

Chinese names: xiao dou kou

Bangladesh names: Elach, Choto elach

Arabic names:    الـهيـل (al heel)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Fabaceae?

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Seed, oil

Collection: October to december

Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: 6 to 10 feet

Actions: Carminative, sialoguge, orexgenic, aromatic, stimulant

Known Constituents: Volatile oil featuring terpineol, cineole, limonene, sabinene, and pinene

Constituents Explained:


The seed is removed from the fruit and is used as quick as possible with minium stroage.  The taste and the odour of the seeds are very strong. The fruit is usually about 2cm long, oval in shape, a dull green and slightly shrunken.  The seed is generally 4mm long by 3mm wide.

Traditional Use:

Commonly used in Indian Cooking.  It is often as a flavoring, to improve digestion and to stimulate saliva production.  Has been combined with other herbs to help stop griping and cramping.

The antiseptic action has seen it be included in some gargles for sore throat.  It has been used as an aphrodisiac in the middle east.

It is one of the oldest known spices in the world, testament to this is the knowledge that the ancient Egyptians used it for perfume.

Clinical Studies:

Elettaria cardamomum (L.) Maton. (Small cardamom) fruit powder was evaluated for its antihypertensive potential and its effect on some of the cardiovascular risk factors in individuals with stage 1 hypertension.

Twenty, newly diagnosed individuals with primary hypertension of stage 1 were administered 3 g of cardamom powder in two divided doses for 12 weeks. Blood pressure was recorded initially and at 4 weeks interval for 3 months.

Blood samples were also collected initially and at 4 weeks interval for estimation of lipid profile, fibrinogen and fibrinolysis. Total antioxidant status, however, was assessed initially and at the end of the study. 

Administration of 3g cardamom powder significantly decreased systolic, diastolic and mean blood pressure and significantly increased fibrinolytic activity at the end of 12th week. Total antioxidant status was also significantly increased by 90% at the end of 3 months. 

However, fibrinogen and lipid levels were not significantly altered. All study subjects experienced a feeling of well being without any side-effects. 

Thus, the present study demonstrates that small cardamom effectively reduces blood pressure, enhances fibrinolysis and improves antioxidant status, without significantly altering blood lipids and fibrinogen levels in stage 1 hypertensive individuals.


Verma SK, Jain V, Katewa SS. “Blood Pressure Lowering, Fibrinolysis Enhancing And Antioxidant Activities Of Cardamom (Elattaria Cardamomum).” 2009 December.



Herb Name: Cardamom

Other names: Cardamon

Latin name: Elettaria cardamomum

Family: Zingiberaceae

Common part used: Seeds

Cardamom is well knows as a spice, and has been used for centuries. It is indigenous to India, but these days it is cultivated in Sri Lanka, Guatemala, IndoChina and Tanzania. This is a tropical plant, and it grows both wild as well as in plantations, though the cultivated varieties have been cultured to provide far greater yields. Cardamom is cultivated in the tropics on forest lands that have been partially cleared so that there remains shade from the burning heat of the noonday sun.

The Cardamom plant is perennial, and belongs to the ginger family. It’s stems are sheathed and can reach up to two and a half meters in height. The Cardamom bush possesses a tuberous rhizome, and it’s long leaves can reach from thirty to sixty centimeters in length. Leafy stalks sprout from the base of the plant and trail along the ground, and it is these that hold the seed pods. Cardamom flowers are green in color, though the tip is purple and veined.

Cardamom is traditionally planted about three meters apart. The harvesting takes place from October to December, just before the fruits ripen. This prevents the capsules from being split as they dry. The drying takes place either in tropical sunlight, or under sulphur fumes.

The seeds of the Cardamom are small and brown or black, and are placed in a seed-pod in three dual rows, each containing about six seeds. Each pod might be about five to twenty millimeters in length. The pods have a triangular cross-section and are oval in shape. When cardamom is sold, it is sold either in the pod, or else the seeds are sold lose, or they are ground into a powder.

Cardamom has a strong, warm and spicy aroma, and a taste reminiscent of eucalyptine, with a touch of lemon and camphor.

Cardamom is used mainly in spicy culinary dishes, and that mainly in the East. It flavors custards in the west, and some Russian liqueurs, but it shines when used in the rich and flavorful dishes in the near and far east. It is also used as a flavor for coffee in Arabia and Turkey and is served with considerable ritual.

Medicinally, cardamom is often used as a stimulant and carminative.