Drugs A - Z
Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)
Generic Name: Cardamom
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Aframomum, Amomum, Amomum cardamomum, Amomum subulatum Roxb, amooman, bai dou kou, Bari Ilaichi, bastard cardamom, buah pelaga (Malay), cardamom oil, cardamome (French), cardamomo (Italian, Spanish), cardamon, cardamone (Italian), cardomomi fructus, chhoti elachi (Indian), elaichi, e(e)lachie (Indian), ela(i)chi (Indian), Elettaria cardamomum, Elettaria cardamomum Maton var. Miniscula Burkill, elam (Tamil), enasal (Sinhalese), grains of paradise, grawahn (Thai), greater cardamom, Heel kalan, illaichi (Indian), Indian cardamom, kapulaga (Indonesian), Kardamom (German), Kardamomma (Iceland), kravan (Thai), large cardamom, lesser cardamom, Nepal cardamom, Malabar cardamom, Mysore cardamom, phalazee (Burmese), protocatechualdehyde, protocatechuic acid, Siam cardamom, true cardamom, ts'ao-k'ou (Chinese), Unmadnashak Ghrita, winged Java cardamom, Zingiberaceae (family).
Cardamom is the dried, unripened fruit of the perennial Elettaria cardamomum. Enclosed in the fruit pods are tiny, brown, aromatic seeds, which are both pungent and sweet to the taste. Cardamom pods are generally green but are also available in bleached white pod form. It is available both in the whole pod and as decorticated seeds with the outer hull removed.
The spice known as cardamom is the fruit of several plants of the Elettaria, Aframomum and Amomum genera in Zingiberaceae, or ginger family. In general, Aframomum is used as a spice. Elettaria is used both as a spice and as medicine, and Amomum is used as an ingredient in several traditional medicines in China, India, Korea and Vietnam.
Cardamom has been used traditionally for a variety of conditions including as a digestive, carminative, stimulant, breath freshener and aphrodisiac. Current research has implicated cardamom's potential therapeutic value as an inhibitor of human platelet aggregation.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Allergic skin reactions (contact dermatitis), antacid, anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antipyretic (fever reducer), antiseptic (pulmonary), aphrodisiac, appetite stimulant, asthma, breath freshener, bronchitis, cardiac conditions, carminative (digestive aid), colds, colon cancer, constipation, cough, depression, digestive, dyspepsia (upset stomach), enhanced vision, flatulence (gas), food flavoring, food uses, gastrointestinal disorders, immunostimulant, infections (teeth and gum), inflammation (eyelids), intestinal spasm, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), laxative, liver and gallbladder complaints, loss of appetite, lung congestion, mouth and throat inflammation, nausea, nutritional intolerance in children (grains), sedative, skin conditions, snake bites, sore throats, stimulant, stings (scorpion), stomach aches, stress, tuberculosis, urinary tract infection, weight loss.
Adults (18 years and older)
There is no proven safe or effective dose of cardamom. Traditionally, the typical dose of cardamom is 1.5 grams of the ground seeds per day. As a digestive, a tea prepared from 1 teaspoon of freshly crushed cardamom seeds infused in 1 cup boiled water for 10-15 minutes has been used.
Children (younger than 18 years)
There is no proven safe or effective dose of cardamom, and use in children is not recommended.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to cardamom. Chronic contact dermatitis has occurred with repeated exposure to cardamom.
Side Effects and Warnings
Very few adverse effects have been reported with cardamom. Primarily, the seeds may cause allergic contact dermatitis. The cardamom seed may trigger gallstone colic (spasmodic pain) and is not recommended for self-medication in patients with gallstones. Although not well studied, cardamom may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients taking medications that also increase the risk of bleeding.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Interactions with Drugs
Cardamom may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that also increase the risk of bleeding. Examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Cardamom may interfere with the way the body processes many drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood in the short-term (causing increased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions), and/or decreased in the blood in the long-term (which can reduce the intended effects). Examples of medications that may be affected by cardamom in this manner include carbamazepine, cyclosporin, irinotecan, midazolam, nifedipine, birth control pills, simvastatin, theophylline, tricyclic antidepressants, warfarin, or HIV drugs such as non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) or protease inhibitors (PIs).
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Cardamom may increase the risk of bleeding. In theory, this risk may be further increased when cardamom is taken with other herbs or supplements that also increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba and two cases with saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
Cardamom may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs and supplements using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood in the short-term, causing increased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions, or decreased in the blood in the long-term, which can reduce the intended effects.
Cardamom may have antispasmodic effects. Patients taking antispasmodic herbs and supplements or muscarinic agents should use with caution.
This information is based on a professional level monograph edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Isabell Syelsky, PharmD (Northeastern University); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Elizabeth A. Poole, PharmD (Drug Information Center, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Achliya GS, Wadodkar SG, Dorle AK. Evaluation of sedative and anticonvulsant activities of Unmadnashak Ghrita. J Ethnopharmacol 2004;94(1):77-83.
Al Bataina BA, Maslat AO, Al Kofahil MM. Element analysis and biological studies on ten oriental spices using XRF and Ames test. J Trace Elem Med Biol 2003;17(2):85-90.
Beddows CG, Jagait C, Kelly MJ. Preservation of alpha-tocopherol in sunflower oil by herbs and spices. Int J Food Sci Nutr 2000;51(5):327-339.
Dhuley JN. Anti-oxidant effects of cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) bark and greater cardamom (Amomum subulatum) seeds in rats fed high fat diet. Indian J Exp Biol 1999;37(3):238-242.
Elgayyar M, Draughon FA, Golden DA, et al. Antimicrobial activity of essential oils from plants against selected pathogenic and saprophytic microorganisms. J Food Prot 2001;64(7):1019-1024.
Huang YB, Fang JY, Hung CH, et al. Cyclic monoterpene extract from cardamom oil as a skin permeation enhancer for indomethacin: in vitro and in vivo studies. Biol Pharm Bull 1999;22(6):642-646.
Jafri MA, Farah, Javed K, et al. Evaluation of the gastric antiulcerogenic effect of large cardamom (fruits of Amomum subulatum Roxb). J Ethnopharmacol 2001;75(2-3):89-94.
Jamal A, Javed K, Aslam M, et al. Gastroprotective effect of cardamom, Elettaria cardamomum Maton. fruits in rats. J Ethnopharmacol 2006;103(2):149-153.
Kikuzaki H, Kawai Y, Nakatani N. 1,1-Diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl radical-scavenging active compounds from greater cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb.). J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 2001;47(2):167-171.
Marongiu B, Piras A, Porcedda S. Comparative analysis of the oil and supercritical CO2 extract of Elettaria cardamomum (L.) Maton. J Agric Food Chem 2004;52(20):6278-6282.
Martins AP, Salgueiro L, Goncalves MJ, et al. Essential oil composition and antimicrobial activity of three Zingiberaceae from S.Tome e Principe. Planta Med 2001;67(6):580-584.
Sapra B, Gupta S, Tiwary AK. Role of volatile oil pretreatment and skin cholesterol on permeation of ion-paired diclofenac sodium. Indian J Exp Biol 2000;38(9):895-900.
Sengupta A, Ghosh S, Bhattacharjee S. Dietary cardamom inhibits the formation of azoxymethane-induced aberrant crypt foci in mice and reduces COX-2 and iNOS expression in the colon. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev 2005;6(2):118-122.
Suneetha WJ, Krishnakantha TP. Cardamom extract as inhibitor of human platelet aggregation. Phytother Res 2005;19(5):437-440.
Vasudevan K, Vembar S, Veeraraghavan K, et al. Influence of intragastric perfusion of aqueous spice extracts on acid secretion in anesthetized albino rats. Indian J Gastroenterol 2000;19(2):53-56.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.