Cardamom spice health benefit by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
April 1 2015

Cardamom is a spice -- shaped like a small pumpkin seed -- used often in Indian cuisine. Common spices used in Indian cooking include turmeric, cloves, ginger, anise, mustard, saffron, and garlic. Also known as "Queen of Spices", has been traditionally used as a culinary ingredient due to its pleasant aroma and taste.
   Cardamom is the dried, unripened fruit of the plant Elettaria cardamomum. Enclosed in the fruit pods are tiny, brown, aromatic seeds which are slightly pungent to taste. Pods are generally green. Cardamom is available both in the whole pod and as seeds with the outer hull removed. Cardomom research is still early, however this herb show much promise. It has antioxidant properties and can increase levels of glutathione, a natural antioxidant in the body.

Cancer prevention
I3C (indole-3-carbinol) and DIM (diindolylmethane) are the phytochemicals that are found in all types of cruciferous vegetables and demonstrated exceptional anti-cancer effects against hormone responsive cancers like breast, prostate and ovarian cancers. Chemopreventive properties of indole-3-carbinol, diindolylmethane and other constituents of cardamom against carcinogenesis. Acharya A, Das I, Singh S, Saha T.Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20057, USA. Recent Pat Food Nutr Agric. 2010.

What substances are found in the spice?
Comparative analysis of the oil and supercritical CO2 extract of Elettaria cardamomum Maton
J Agric Food Chem. 2004.
The volatile oil of cardamom seeds was examined. The main components were as follows: alpha-terpinyl acetate, 42%; 1,8-cineole, 21%; linalyl acetate, 8.2%; limonene, 5.6%; and linalool, 5.4%. A comparison with the hydrodistilled oil, obtained at a yield of 5.0%, did not reveal any consistent difference. In contrast, the extract obtained using hexane, Y = 7.6%, showed strong composition differences. Indeed, the volatile fraction of the extract was made up mainly of the following: limonene, 36%; 1,8-cineole, 23%; terpinolene, 8%; and myrcene, 6%.

Clinical application potential
Its bioactive principles (eucalyptol, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, d-limonene and geraniol) have proapoptopic, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, anti-invasive and anti-angiogenic activities.

1,1-Diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl radical-scavenging active compounds from greater cardamom Amomum subulatum
J Nutr Sci Vitaminol. 2001.
Constituents of the fruits of greater cardamom (Amomum subulatum) were fractionated into three fractions, the dichloromethane extract, and the ethyl acetate-soluble and water-soluble fractions of the 70% aqueous acetone extract. The ethyl acetate-soluble fraction showed a high radical-scavenging activity against 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH). Four compounds were isolated from the ethyl acetate-soluble fraction, and their structures were ascribed to protocatechualdehyde (1), protocatechuic acid (2), 1,7-bis(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)hepta-4E,6E-dien-3-one (3) and 2,3,7-trihydroxy-5-(3,4-dihydroxy-E-styryl)-6,7,8,9-tetrahydro-5H-benzocycloheptene (4) on the basis of spectroscopic evidence. This is the first isolation of these compounds from greater cardamom. In particular, 4 was a new type of cyclic diarylheptanoid. DPPH radical-scavenging activity of these compounds was measured by colorimetric analysis. Compounds 1 and 3 showed stronger activity than such natural antioxidants as alpha-tocopherol and L-ascorbic acid. Compounds 2 and 4 were comparable to alpha-tocopherol and L-ascorbic acid.

Antioxidant phenolics and flavonoids in common Indian foods.
J Assoc Physicians India. 1998.
To determine antioxidant phenolics and flavonoids in commonly consumed Indian foods we chemically analysed 85 food-stuffs comprising of cereals, pulses, nuts, oilseeds, vegetables, fruits and beverages. Total phenolics were measured biochemically and flavonoids were measured as a sum of quercetin, kaempferol, luteolin and pelargonidin. High flavonoid content (> 100 mg/100 gm) was present in tea, coffee, apple, guava, terminalia bark, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, cinnamon, red chili powder, cloves and turmeric. Medium levels (50-100 mg) were found in Indian gooseberry, omum, cumin, cardamom, betel leaf and brandy. Small but significant amounts were also present in food-items of large consumption such as kidney beans, soyabeans, grapes, ginger, coriander powder, bajra and brinjal.

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.
In order to gain insight into the antioxidant effect of cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum; Lauraceae) and cardamom (Amomum subulatum; Zingiberaceae) hepatic and cardiac antioxidant enzymes, glutathione content and lipid conjugated dienes were studied in rats fed high fat diet along with cinnamon or cardamom. The antioxidant enzyme activities were found to be significantly enhanced whereas glutathione content was markedly restored in rats fed a fat diet with spices. In addition, these spices partially counteracted increase in lipid conjugated dienes and hydroperoxides, the primary products of lipid peroxidation. Thus, it appears that these spices exert antioxidant protection through their ability to activate the antioxidant enzymes.

Blood pressure
Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2009. Blood pressure lowering, fibrinolysis enhancing and antioxidant activities of Elettaria cardamomum.

J Med Food. 2012. Chemopreventive effects of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) on chemically induced skin carcinogenesis in Swiss albino mice.

Recent Pat Food Nutr Agric. 2010. Chemopreventive properties of indole-3-carbinol, diindolylmethane and other constituents of cardamom against carcinogenesis.

Indian J Pharm Sci. 2014. Effect of some high consumption spices on hemoglobin glycation. Formation of glycation products is major factor responsible in complications of diabetes. Worldwide trend is toward the use of natural additives in reducing the complications of diseases. Therefore, there is a growing interest in natural antiglycation found in plants. Herbs and spices are one of the most important targets to search for natural antiglycation from the point of view of safety. This study investigated the ability of some of the spices to inhibit glycation process in a hemoglobin/glucose model system and compared their potency with each other. For this subject the best concentration and time to incubate glucose with hemoglobin was investigated. Then the glycosylation degree of hemoglobin in the presence of extracts by the three concentrations 0.25, 0.5 and 1 μg/ml was measured colorimetrically at 520 nm. Results represent that some of extracts such as wild caraway, turmeric, cardamom and black pepper have inhibitory effects on hemoglobin glycation. But some of the extracts such as anise and saffron have not only inhibitory effects but also aggravated this event and have proglycation properties. In accordance with the results obtained we can conclude that wild caraway, turmeric, cardamom and black pepper especially wild caraway extracts are potent antiglycation agents.

Pharmacological studies of cardamom oil in animals.
Pharmacol Res. 1996.
Cardamom seeds are widely used for flavouring purposes in food and as carminative. Little information has been reported on their pharmacological and toxicological properties or, for their volatile oil which constitutes about 5% of the seed's total weight. A comparative study of the anti-inflammatory activity of the oil extracted from commercial Elettaria cardamomum seeds, in doses of 175 and 280 microliters/kg and indomethacin in a dose of 30 mg/kg against acute carrageenan-induced planter oedema in male albino rats was performed, which proved to be marked. Moreover, investigation of the analgesic activity using p-benzoquinone as a chemical stimulus proved that a dose of 233 microliters/kg of the oil produced 50% protection against the writhing (stretching syndrome) induced by intraperitoneal administration of a 0.02% solution of p-benzoquinone in mice. In addition the antispasmodic activity was determined on a rabbit intestine preparation using acetylcholine as agonist, the results proving that cardamom oil exerts its antispasmodic action through muscarinic receptor blockage.

Cardamom--production, technology, chemistry, and quality.
Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1982.
Cardamom, Elettaria cardamomum Maton known as true or lesser cardamom is the widely cultivated variety and important in the world trade. It occupies a high second or third place in world trade, being a high priced spice. It belongs to the sweet spices group and is used predominantly to flavor sweets, baked goods, and coffee, particularly in the Arab countries. This monograph critically reviews the post-harvest handling and processing and the chemistry of the volatiles. The components contributing to the characteristic aroma for which the spice is valued are specifically considered. Gas chromatographic analysis for quality control and attempts are evaluating the aroma quality by sensory profile are discussed in relation to regional varieties, and processing variables. The areas in which further research is required are indicated. The botanical and cultivation aspects and production and trade of the different growing and consuming regions are briefly considered. Available information on other "cardamoms" from related species and genera are summarized. cardamom pod cardamom seed.

Adverse effects
Allergic contact dermatitis from cardamom.
Contact Dermatitis. 1975.
A case is presented of a confectioner with a chronic hand dermatitis and positive patch test reactions to cardamom and certain terpenoid compounds present in the dried ripe seeds of cardamom. Cardamom is a popular traditional flavouring agent for baked goods and confectionery. Dermatitis from skin exposure to cardamom has to the best of our knowledge not been reported. We report one case of allergic contact dermatitis to cardamom elicited by terpenes present in the seeds.

Ayurvedic research with Cardamom
Evaluation of sedative and anticonvulsant activities of Unmadnashak Ghrita.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2004.
'Unmadnashak Ghrita' (UG) is a ayurvedic formulation containing Ferula narthex (6 g), Gardenia gummifera (6 g), Ellataria cardamom (6 g), Bacopa monneri (6 g), and cow's ghee (clarified butter fat) (76 g). In the present study, neuropharmacological activities of UG were evaluated for its gross behavioural effect, pentobarbitone sleeping time, spontaneous locomotor activity, antagonism to amphetamine induced hyperlocomotor activity, analgesic activity by tail flick test, rota-rod performance (motor coordination test), maximal electroshock (MES) induced seizures, and pentylenetetrazol (PTZ) induced convulsions in mice. The formulation showed CNS-depressant activity in gross behavioural test, potentiated pentobarbitone sleeping time and there was significant decrease in spontaneous locomotor count in mice. The formulation also antagonized the behavioral effects of CNS-stimulant drug amphetamine, and showed analgesic effect in mice. UG failed to affect the motor coordination test. The formulation also protected mice from MES and PTZ induced convulsions. These results suggest that UG has CNS-depressant and anticonvulsant activity in mice.

Some misspell it as cardomon