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Cardamom

Elettaria Cardamomum,  ilayachi or veldoda

Cardamom is one of the world's  famous spices. In India, it is used for flavoring curries, puddings and many other sweet dishes. It is often added to teas, coffees and milk, which adds to their taste. It adds to flavour of the many recipes and in addition, it has medicinal value.

Cardamom grows as a perennial herb. It has underground leafy stems and leafy greenish roots. Other parts of herb are large leaves, greenish, yellow flowers and multiple seeded green or off-white colored fruits. Fruits are dried and used for medicinal as well as flavoring purpose. Fruits contain triangular blackish seeds wrapped in a thin, transparent cover in bunches. These seeds are important part of the herb. Fruits and seeds leave pleasant aroma with sweet, pungent taste behind when chewed. They can be eaten directly or a powder of seeds/ fruits is added to recipes/ spices/ ayurvedic medicines.

Indian pansupari, which is combination of cardamom, clove, betel nut, fennel, licorice and few other substances, has prestigious place on Indian tea table/ dining table. It is a custom in Indian houses to eat this pansupari after lunch and/or dinner. When eaten individually or in pansupari, cardamom fruits/seeds leave warm sensation behind which adds to pleasures.

Cardamom helps in reducing flatulence and strengthening digestive activities. It activates our appetite by acting on salivary secretion. It is a time-tested medicine for nausea, dry vomiting, motion sickness, vertigo and indigestion in general. A cardamom enriched tea/coffee gives an instant relief from indigestion induced headaches or tension headaches, which are very common in the modern era. An ayurvedic preparation that contains cardamom, cloves, ginger, coriander and few other available herbal products is an effective and safe remedy in digestive problems.

Cardamom is a breath freshener. A few seeds chewed after the intake of food, help in diminishing bad breath. Many herbal types of toothpaste available in market include this valuable gift of nature in their product.

Cardamom has some diuretic effect also. A diuretic herbal mixture prepared out of banana leaf with few other diuretic herbal medicines includes cardamom also. In conditions like burning micturition, scanty micturition, dribbling micturition, prostate problems, cystitis and nephritis it has proven its merit.

Cardamom gives a boost to the body after a tiring or hectic schedule. It helps in the state of depression as a cheering agent. One ayurvedic school of thoughts says this herb is useful in sexual disorders like impotency and premature ejaculation. A special spice prepared from cardamom, saffron and few other ayurvedic sex tonics boiled with milk, is recommended at bedtime. Treatment is to be continued for months to achieve desired effect. Excessive use defeats the purpose.

A concoction of the essences of cardamom seeds and/or cinnamon added to lukewarm water is used for gargling. This helps in conditions like stomatitis, phyringitis, sore throat, adulthood tonsillitis and hoarseness of voice due to any reason. Cardamom is a boon for vocalists as it helps in improving voice. Many performing artists take cardamom added milk before a performance for smoothness of voice, and cardamom added coffee after finishing it for the relaxation of vocal cords.

Cardamom has some role in relieving hiccups. A fresh powder of roast cardamom and clove with few leaves of mint is added to glass of water and kept for half an hour in silver pot is a good hiccup reliever.

In general cardamom is used in pansupari which is an after food chewing mixture in Indian lifestyle. It also adds to flavours of recipes and helps in digestion. It is one of the antidepressant recommended by ayurveda.

By Dr. Satish Kulkarni

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