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Cardamom Herb Description - Drug Interactions, Dosage and Some of its Useful Properties

Taxonomic Class

Zingiberaceae

Common Trade Names

None known.

Common Forms

Available as dried seeds, whole or powdered, and essential oils.

Source

Cardamom seeds are harvested from the fruits of Elettaria cardamomum, a large perennial herb that is native to southern India. The fruits are gathered before they ripen and split because seeds from opened fruits are less aromatic. Seeds yield 4% to 6% of a volatile oil.

Chemical Components

The volatile oil is primarily composed of 1,8-cineole and alpha-terpinyl acetate . Other components include alpha-pinene, alpha-terpineol, borneol, limonene, linalool, linalyl acetate, and myrcene.

Actions

The few studies that report on the pharmacologic action of cardamom are based on in vitro or animal data. Eugenol, a compound found in cardamom and other spices, significantly inhibits tobacco-induced mutagenicity . Cardamom oil, given intraperitoneally, was compared with indomethacin for acute carrageenan­induced edema in male rats. Compared with indomethacin, a lower cardamom dose suppressed edema to a lesser extent, whereas a higher cardamon dose exerted a more potent anti-inflammatory effect.

In one study, cardamom oil halved the p-benzoquinone-induced writhing in mice, suggesting a possible analgesic effect, and inhibited the stimulant action of acetylcholine, perhaps explaining its role as an antispasmodic.

Reported Uses

Cardamom is a widely used flavoring agent for sweets and coffee and a standard ingredient in curry. Its medicinal use dates back to ancient times. Herbalists recommended it to improve digestion and relieve flatulence. It is also popular in Ayurvedic medicine. When chewed, the seeds have a pleasant taste that may be followed by increased salivation and a warm sensation in the mouth. The herb has been used for bronchitis, colds, and cough and recommended as an appetite stimulant in anorexic patients. Cardamom sprinkled on cooked cereal has been reported to help children with celiac disease who are intolerant to the gluten in grain. Data from human studies cannot be found to support these claims.

Dosage

No human studies support dosing recommendations. Doses listed in other sources are 15 to 30 grains of powder P.O., 1 fluid dram of tincture P.O., and 5 to 30 gtt of fluidextract P.O. Seeds are commonly chewed whole, and the powder is usually sprinkled on food or included in beverages.

Adverse Reactions

Skin: contact dermatitis (one case was reported after a confectioner with chronic hand dermatitis had positive patch test reactions to cardamom and terpenoid compounds.

Interactions

None reported.

Contraindications And Precautions

Avoid using cardamom in pregnant or breast-feeding patients; effects are unknown.

Special Considerations

Ingestion of cardamom beyond amounts commonly found in foods is not recommended.

Inform the patient of the lack of human trials with cardamom. Instruct him to consult a health care provider if complaints related to GI dysmotility continue despite use of cardamom.

Advise women to avoid using cardamom during pregnancy or when breast-feeding.

Commentary

Although cardamom has long been claimed to relieve indigestion and flatulence, no clinical trials have tested this effect, and its therapeutic benefit remains unproven. Further study is warranted to evaluate the pharmacologic properties of cardamom, and human data are needed before it can be recommended to treat any medical condition.

   

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