Cardamom belongs to the family Zingiberaceae and originates in India. It is a striking, large-leafed plant, growing to about 10 feet (3 meters) in height. The seeds of the plant have been used in Indian cookery for hundreds of years and are equally popular in many of the kitchens of the Western world. The essential oil gives the spice its distinctive warming, invigorating qualities. Chewing the seeds can help to alleviate indigestion and heartburn and stimulate the digestive system into working more effectively. Much of the cardamom oil that is produced commercially comes from Guatemala.
Cardamom oil is extracted from the dried seeds of the plant by the process of steam distillation. It is either colorless or pale yellow and smells sweet, warm and spicy. It can be used in baths, massage or in vaporizers and its effect is warming, uplifting, invigorating to the spirits and imparting a sense of contentment to those who have been suffering from anxiety and stress.
Cardamom oil is also believed to be an aphrodisiac and can be used in massage to stimulate a jaded sexual appetite. Cardamom oil also benefits the digestive system, having a carminative (antiflatulent) and antispasmodic effect when mixed with a base oil and massaged gently over the abdomen. It can also be used in mouthwashes as it has antiseptic properties.
Suitable methods of use
Cardamom is generally non-toxic and non-irritant, but may cause skin irritation in some cases.