The smell is all at once powerful and refreshing. If you know it, there is no mistaking it- cardamom is one of a kind. The curious seed pods of the Elettaria cardamomum plant, known as green cardamom or true cardamom, have been used for centuries in the culinary and medical world. Through a specialized Hydrodiffusion process, we extract pure cardamom essential oil. Cardamom essential oil boasts many benefits, and can easily be incorporated into your daily ritual.
A History of Cardamom
Cardamom enjoys a rich history. This one plant’s use dates back over 4,000 years. Like caraway seed essential oil, cardamom was used by ancient Egyptians in the mummification process. The seed pods are also a convenient breath freshener. Romans, Egyptians, and Greeks alike all chewed the cardamom seed to freshen the breath and clean the teeth. The Greeks also used the seeds in perfumes which they believed could cure overindulgence. The word cardamom even comes from the ancient Greek kardamomon.
When vikings took a liking to the potent seed, they brought it to Scandinavia, where it became very popular. One example of its use is in the holiday mulled wine called glogg.
Cardamom is native to India, where it is found in many culinary dishes as well as used in Ayurveda. It has been praised as a great digestive, and has a gentle warming effect on the body.
Thanks to a German coffee planter in the early part of the 1900’s, cardamom was brought to Guatemala, where it has since flourished. Today, the great majority of green cardamom is produced in either Guatemala or India. These seed pods make their way into everything! Coffees, teas, breads, desserts perfumes, and soaps- all use cardamom. Medicinally, there is no greater way to experience cardamom than through its pure essential oil.
Cardamom Essential Oil
Typically, essential oils are extracted through a steam distillation process. In the case of citrus like grapefruit essential oil, the peels of the fruits are cold pressed to extract their oils. Cardamom is different. The essential oils are extracted from the seeds through a process of hydrodiffusion, also called percolation. This allows for a shorter distillation process and ensures that the constituents of the oil remain intact.
Cardamom essential oil is comprised of as many as 22 compounds, depending on who is counting. Typically, the most medicinally active compounds in any essential oil are the ones that are most present in the oil. Listed below are the medically active compounds found in pure cardamom essential oil.
Alpha-terpineol is a monoterpenoid alcohol present in many essential oils, including cardamom. Alpha terpineol itself is highly anti-inflammatory, and even fights against cancer cells. It also helps other beneficial compounds cross the skin barrier and enter the bloodstream. Oils containing a-terpineol can be added to topical blends to increase absorption of other compounds.
Myrcene is another monoterpene. It is present in mangos, hops, and cardamom essential oil. Myrcene has an analgesic effect, and also suppresses muscle spasms. It is antibiotic, and also has a synergistic effect with other antibiotic compounds, increasing their effectiveness. Like a-terpineol, myrcene is an anti-inflammatory, and fights cancer cells. Myrcene also has a tranquilizing effect on the brain, and may help improve insomnia.
The same compound which provides many of the benefits of lemon essential oil is also present in cardamom essential oil. Limonene is a cholesterol solvent, helping to lower LDL cholesterol levels in the body. It also helps to neutralize gastric juices, which aids in digestion and heartburn.
1,8- cineole is one of the most studied compounds in natural medicine. It contributes many of the benefits of eucalyptus essential oil. It is even commonly referred to as eucalyptol, though many essential oils contain the compound.1,8- cineole is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It also provides relief to chronic airway diseases such as asthma and COPD thanks to its ability to reduce inflammation and help eliminate the toxins in the lungs which cause flare ups.
Sabinene the terpene responsible for the “spiciness” of many herbs worldwide, and is present in black pepper, nutmeg, and cardamom. Sabinene is a potent anti-inflammatory. It has a great ability to scavenge toxins in the body, and shows promise in treating infections of the scalp and nails.
This component makes spices like cardamom appeal to the taste buds. In essential oils, a-terpenyl acetate may aid in the digestive effects of the oil, stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes as soon as it is inhaled. It also may attribute to the “attractive” smell of the oil.
Another monoterpene, menthone is found in many essential oils in small amounts. It is similar to menthol, and is a natural pesticide. Essential oils containing menthone can be used as natural bug repellants as well.
Benefits of Cardamom Essential Oil
All of these medical compounds combine to create one powerful essential oil. The components of cardamom essential oil have been used clinically for everything from inflammation to sleeplessness, and more research comes out every day to substantiate these claims. Let’s take a look to some of the most promising benefits of cardamom essential oil.
In the Body
When absorbed through the skin or inhaled, the compounds in cardamom essential oil enter the blood stream and get to work immediately, producing many beneficial results.
First and foremost, cardamom oil is a natural anti-inflammatory. In fact, many of the other wonderful benefits of the oil stem from its power as an anti-inflammatory. The compounds 1,8-cineole, a-terpineol, Myrcene, and sabinene are all anti-inflammatory, and each act in a different way.
Thanks to 1,8-cineole, Cardamom oil can help control inflammation. Researchers focused primarily on inflammatory airway diseases, and found that 1,8 cineole can effectively reduce the inflammation that causes flare ups.
A recent study also found that sabinene is a potent anti-inflammatory. Researchers found essential oils high in sabinene to be very anti-inflammatory. Sabinene stops the effects of nitric oxide in the blood. Nitric oxide contributes to natural inflammation, and is overproduced in cases of chronic inflammation. As cardamom essential oil is high in sabinene, adding a few drops to your aromatherapy inhaler can be a great way to reduce inflammation in the body after a long day’s work.
Cardamom oil has risen to fame recently as a great way to reduce cramps. Whether you are going through painful menstruation or have overworked muscles- any working solution is a welcome one. For people looking for natural cramp cures, a recent study found cardamom oil to be an effective antispasmodic. Researchers found the many anti-inflammatory compounds in cardamom essential oil act to calm overworked muscles, and relieve the tension which causes cramps.
Inflammatory compounds in cardamom essential oil lend themselves well to the battle against osteoarthritis. A recent study found that myrcene in particular can slow down the progression of osteoarthritis. This was due to the fact that myrcene has anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic effects in the body. A rub made with cardamom essential oil, applied to the joints as needed, can be a great way to get the power of myrcene into your daily ritual.
Of the compounds which cardamom essential oil contains, alpha terpineol may be the most potent. Alpha terpineol is a very strong anti-inflammatory, and even shows potential as an anti-cancer agent. A recent study took a look to the compound, and found that alpha terpineol may inhibit the growth of tumor cells by blocking pathways which help the tumors grow. The compound also helps carry other potential anti-cancer compounds across the skin barrier, making it a perfect addition to topical creams and anti-inflammatory oils.
Cardamom essential oil also shows promise in the fight against oxidative radicals. A study looked at 3 compounds present in many essential oils, finding that sibinene, a compound of cardamom essential oil, was effective at protecting against oxidative damage. As such, cardamom essential oil may help stop the formation of oxidative compounds in the body as well.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Adding a few drops of cardamom essential oil to your aromatherapy diffuser every day may lead you to a healthy heart! At least, according to one recent study. Researchers found a link that suggests cardamom lowers blood pressure. Subjects treated with cardamom extract showed a marked decrease in arterial blood pressure versus those that were not exposed to cardamom. Adding cardamom essential oil to your aromatherapy diffusor along with other heart healthy oils can be a great support for a naturally healthy heart.
A recent study highlighted some long held beliefs about cardamom. Cardamom has always been used to aid digestion, and science is now backing up the claims. Researchers found that extracts of the cardamom seed act to excite the digestive system. When the body encounters the compounds in cardamom, the entire digestive system is stimulated. This can also be beneficial for reducing heartburn and eliminating constipation.
Natural plants and essential oils which contain myrcene may be effective analgesics when used topically. A recent study found that the myrcene found in cardamom essential oil is an analgesic. Analgesics help to reduce the feeling of pain experienced by the body. It is also important to note that repeated use of myrcene did not create tolerance like some chemical analgesics such as morphine do.
Thanks to the anti-inflammatory aspect of 1,8 cineole, Cardamom essential oil shows promise in reducing flare ups of chronic airway disorders like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). One recent study linked components of Cardamom essential oil to reduced inflammation in airway diseases. Researchers found 1,8 cineole acts to reduce mucus secretion and reduce inflammation associated with flare ups.
One of the most common terpenes in nature, limonene lowers cholesterol. This recent review highlighted the fact that essential oils containing limonene may help break up and reduce blood cholesterol. Limonene is present in various amounts in many essential oils, including cardamom essential oil.
It seems ancient civilizations were on to something when they made a practice of chewing the seeds to clean their teeth. Cardamom has long been used to freshen the breath, now science has simply caught up! Antimicrobial compounds in cardamom essential oil can help kill the bacteria associated with bad breath and gum disease. Adding a few drops of cardamom essential oil to your mouthwash is a quick and effective way to freshen the breath, and this way you won’t get the seeds stuck in your teeth!
For the Brain
Compounds in essential oils can enter the bloodstream by being absorbed by the capillaries of the blood. From there, they can enter and positively influence the brain.
When the compounds in cardamom essential oil enter the brain, they can have a sedating effect. Combined with other calming scents such as chamomile essential oil, cardamom essential oil has shown promise in helping people with insomnia get to sleep. Cardamom essential oil may help support epilepsy treatment. Researchers of this study found that cardamom extract had a sedative effect on the heart and brain, which may be promising to people with epilepsy.
A compound in cardamom essential oil called a-terpenyl acetate may be attractive to the brain. While the experience of smelling cardamom essential oil may not be positively euphoric, many find it to be an exciting scent. Combined with other aphrodisiac essential oils, cardamom essential oil may make an irresistible perfume or body oil. This may be the reason cardamom essential oil has found its way into many modern day perfumes.
On The Skin
The same compounds which have amazing benefit to the body internally can cause great things to happen externally as well. Added to carrier oil, cardamom essential oil can be rubbed on the skin or scalp to invite some amazing benefits as well
Many of the compounds in cardamom essential oil kill different bacteria and microbes. As such, cardamom oil may be used to help prevent sepsis, and reduce bacteria around wounds. One study found that indeed cardamom is a strong antimicrobial agent. Researchers studied the effect of cardamom extract on many of the most common and strong bacterial strains, including E. coli and S. aureus. Adding cardamom essential oil to your first aid spray is a great way to use the beneficial compounds of the potent seed.
Research is finding that components in cardamom essential oil may make it an effective natural antifungal. The strong levels sabenine act to reduce fungal infections on the skin and scalp. When coupled with other antifungal essential oils, a synergistic effect is produced.
Hair and Scalp Health
The antioxidant compounds in cardamom essential oil make it a great way to strengthen hair and reduce the toxic effects of pollution on the hair and scalp. Environmental pollutants, combined with the minerals and metals in hard tap water, team up to take a toll on your luscious locks. Adding a few drops of pure cardamom essential oil to your favorite essential oil can be a great way to remove toxins and get back to strong, supple hair.
It’s perfectly clear now: pure cardamom essential oil is great for you. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It protects the cells against oxidative stress, and it can be used to soothe those sore muscles- just to name a few things.
It should be noted that pure cardamom essential oil is powerful, and as such should be respected. It should be used in small amounts, and pay attention to any reactions your body may have to the oil. Children and pregnant or nursing women should only use cardamom oil under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner. It is always important to use pure essential oils on your body and in the air you breathe to ensure you have the best experience possible.
Have a cardamom essential oil success story you’d like to share? We would love to hear about the many ways you use this powerful essential oil in the comments below!