Elettaria(Cardomum, Lesser cardamum)

Botanical Name :Elettaria cardamomum
Family: Zingiberaceae
Genus:     Elettaria
Species: E. cardamomum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Zingiberales

Syn : Cardamum officinale Salisb.; (non-Ammomum cardamum L. 1753); Alpinia cardamum Roxb.

English names: Cardomum, Lesser cardamum.

Sanskrit names: Ela, Trutih.

Vernacular names: Ben: Chhoto elach; Guj : Elachi; Hin : Chhoti elaichi; Kan :Mal: Yellaki; Cittelum, Elam; Mar: Elachi veldodi; Tam: Elam; Tel: Yelakkayalu.

Trade name: Chhoti elaichi.

Habitat: Elettaria is a genus of one or two species of cardamoms, native to southeastern Asia from India south to Sri Lanka and east to Malaysia and western Indonesia, where it grows in tropical rainforests.

Some authorities treat the genus as containing only one species Elettaria cardamomum, while others separate Sri Lankan plants out as a separate species Elettaria repens Sonner. Common names include Green Cardamom, True Cardamom, and (E. repens) Ceylon Cardamom;

As well as in its native range, it is also grown in Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand, and Central America. In India, the states of Sikkim and Kerala are the main producers of cardamom; they rank highest both in cultivated area and in production. It was first imported into Europe c.1200 CE.

Description:
Perennial leafy herb, 1.5-3.0 m high; rootstock thick, horizontal; leaves 30-65 cm by 5-10 cm, distichous, elliptic or elliptic-Ianceolate, glabrous above, softly pubescent below, acuminate at apex, narrowed or obtuse at base; flowers white, striped with violet, in elongated, flexuous, bracts, panicles arising from the rootstock; capsules oblong or subindehiscent, marked with fine vertical ribs; seeds black, arillate.

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The leaves are alternate in two ranks, linear-lanceolate, 40-60 cm long, with a long pointed tip. The flowers are white to lilac or pale violet, produced in a loose spike 30-60 cm long. The fruit is a three-sided yellow-green pod 1-2 cm long, containing several black seeds.

Flowering and Fruiting: throughout the year, mainly in late autumn and winter.

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Uses:
The green seed pods of the plant are dried and the seeds inside the pod are used in Indian and other Asian cuisines either whole or in a ground form. It is the most widely cultivated species of cardamom; for other types and uses, see cardamom.

Ground cardamom is an ingredient in many Indian curries, and is a primary contributor to the flavour of masala chai. In the Middle East and Iran, cardamom is used to flavour coffee and tea. In Turkey, it is used to flavor the black Turkish tea (Kakakule in Turkish).

Aroma and flavour
The cardamom seeds have a warm, slightly pungent and highly aromatic flavour. They are popular seasoning in Oriental dishes, particularly curries and in Scandinavian pasteries. In Middle East countries it is used mostly in the preparation of ‘Gahwa’, a strong cardamom-coffee concoction.
Chemical contents: Seed : essential oil, terpenoids.

Medicinal Uses:
Cardamom is particularly helpful for the digestive system. It works as a laxative and soothes colic, wind, dyspepsia and nausea, even nausea caused by pregnancy. It warms the stomach and helps with heartburn. As a massage oil or diluted in the bath, Cardamom oil can assist with: digestive system, coughs and a general tonic.

The cardamom oil is a precious ingredient in food preparations, perfumery, health foods, medicine and beverages. A good portion is consumed for chewing or as a masticatory item. In medicine, it is used as powerful aromatic, stimulant, carminative, stomachic and diuretic, but rarely used alone. It also checks nausea and vomiting, helps in combating digestive ailments. Herbal lores on this spice suggest it can be used to freshen your breath and support smooth digestion.

Its digestive properties have made it popular as an after-dinner infusion, and it acts as a breath freshener when chewed. It is used in India for many conditions, including asthma, bronchitis, kidney stones, anorexia, debility and weakened Vata. The herb has a long-lasting reputation as an aphrodisiac. Cardamom treats gastralgia, enuresis (involuntary urination), warming, antimucus stimulant to add to lung tonics.

Cardamom is very high in cineole, a potent expectorant compound and a central nervous system stimulant. In cases of emphysema, add a teaspoon or two of powdered cardamom to fruit juice or tea.

In Chinese medicine it: 1) increases the Qi and replenishes deficiency; restores the lungs, spleen and nerve and generates strength; lifts the spirit and rids depression; 2) Warms and invigorates the stomach and intestines; frees spasms and dries mucous damp; awakens the appetite, settles the stomach and quells vomiting; 3) Stimulates the lungs, expels phlegm and clears the head; 4) antidotes poison and resolves contusion.

AYURVEDA : seeds abortifacient, alexiteric, aromatic, acrid, sweet, cooling, carminative, cardiac tonic, digestive, diuretic, expectorant,stimulant, and tonic, beneficial in asthma, bronchitis, strangury, haemorrhoids, renal and vesical calculi, halitosis, anorexia, dyspepsia, gastropathy and burning sensation.

SIDDHA : dried fruit, seed and stem-bark are used to prepare drugs cell ‘Elam’, ‘Elarici’ .

UNANI:
preparations used as antidote to poison, astringent, exhilarant and in nausea.

Modern use: Essential oil from seed: antimicrobial; oil is used in several pharmaceutical preparations.

History: Cardamom was well known in ancient times. The Egyptians used it in perfumes and incense and chewed it to whiten their teeth. The Romans used it for their stomachs when they over-indulged. The Arabs used it grounded in their coffee and It is an important ingredient in Asian cooking.

Cautions:
Non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitizing.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.bsienvis.org/medi.htm#Dolichos%20biflorus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elettaria
http://www.newdirectionsaromatics.com/cardamom-essential-oil-p-198.html
http://www.spicesvalley.com/spices/cardamom.asp

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

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