Authored by: Emily Cuthbert

Latin Name: Elettaria cardamomum

Standardized Common Name: Cardamom

Sanskrit Name: Ela– to act as a breath freshener

Family: Zingiberaceae – Ginger family

Parts used: Seed

Botanical Description: Elettaria cardamomum is an herbaceous, perennial, rhizomatic growing herb that is native to India and Sri Lanka. This plant has a thick shoot stalk and grows from 5-15 feet tall. The alternate, lanceolate, evergreen leaves emerge from the top of the shoots and grow pointing upwards. Flowering shoots typically do not grow leaves, and there are numerous, showy white petaled flowers with magenta veins that grow in a spike on each shoot. The fruit grows as a yellow/green colored three-sided pod that is filled with about 15-50 small black to clay colored hammered-looking seeds. These seeds are what are used medicinally and in culinary.


  • Taste (Rasa): Pungent, sweet
  • Potency/Action (Virya): Cold, cooling
  • Post-digestion effect (Vipaka): Pungent
  • Doshas: VK+ P-


  • Volatile Oils: found on the epidermis of the seed coat
  • EO content varies from 2-10%
    • Alpha-terpinyl acetate
    • Alpha-terpineol
    • Linalyl acetate
    • Sabinene
    • Linalool
    • 1,8-cineole: eucalyptol, campferous scent
      • Main active constituent
  • Minerals:
    • Iron
    • Manganese
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fixed Oil
  • Proteins

Actions: Often used in culinary, the actions of Elettaria cardamomum are light and dry. They come together to create an effective mechanism to help stimulate digestion and calm nausea, bringing warmth and movement into the system. This can help to relieve gas or prevent indigestion from eating when working correct constitutions. Antimicrobial actions are useful in respiratory and fungal infections. Many of the actions are a result of the volatile oil constituents.

  • Aromatic
  • Carminative
  • Antispasmodic
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antifungal
  • Antiviral
  • Expectorant
  • Useful in cholagogue – poor fat digestion

Indications: Pitta pacifying, digestion stimulation, halitosis, gas relief, stomach/intestinal cramping, topical or internal fungal infection, respiratory infection, coughing (bronchitis)

Safety/Contraindications: May be contraindicated in severe liver conditions and pregnancy.

Preparations and Doses:

  • Infusions: 1 tsp crushed seed / 1 cup of water
    • *Do not boil too hot or the volatile oils will dissipate; cover while infusing
  • Powder/Capsule: .25-.5 teaspoon
  • Essential Oil: 3-5 drops/dose


  • The Ayurveda Experience. Cardamom Benefits, Uses, Side Effects. The Ayurveda Experience. Accessed May 1, 2021.
  • Chauhan DM. Ela, Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) – Properties, Benefits, Uses & Dosage. Planet Ayurveda. Published April 24, 2019. Accessed May 1, 2021.
  • Cristi Albu A Greek And Unani Herbal: Cardamom. Accessed February 4, 2021.
  • Lund, Kaleb. Zingiberaceae. Lecture presented on Zoom for Materia Medica2 , Bastyr University:
  • January11, 2021. Seattle, Washington.
  • Skenderi G. Herbal Vade Mecum: 800 Herbs, Spices, Essential Oils, Lipids, Etc., Constituents, Properties, Uses, and Caution. Pg. 76 Rutherford, NJ: Herbacy Press; 2004.
  • Tilgner S. Herbal Medicine: from the Heart of the Earth. Pg. 64 10 Creswell, OR: Wise Acres; 2020.