Prof (Dr) R.D. Gupta
Large cardamom or Black cardamom (Amom Subulatum) is considered to be the queen of spices. It belongs to the family Zingiberaceae and order Sitaminae. Large cardamom is also called Greater Indian cardamom or Badi Elaichi in Hindi and Thuto Elaichi in Nepali. In Sanskrit it is known as Elagreator.
In India, cultivation of large cardamom was originally started in the Eastern Himalayan region, especially in Sikkim and Darjeeling hills. Now it is grown in almost all the evergreen forests of Western Ghats. Besides, large cardamom also grows well in forest areas having cooler climate. Guatemala, India, Srilanka, Tanzania, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, New Guinea are the major cardamom growing countries.
Large cardamom is a perennial herb, growing in 1.8 to 2.5m height, with leafy shoots and panicles. The leafy shoots are mostly grayish to reddish in colour and cylindrical in shape depending up on the variety. Leaves are unicosate with parallel venation.
Medicinal Values: Large cardamom is not only used as a spice (Garam Masala) and in aroma therapy, but is also used as medicine in a number of Ayurvedic preparations. It serves as a diuretic agent for it helps the body to release excessive fluid out of the body and assists in treating of kidney stone, lymphatic, swelling gonorrhoea, liver disorders and high blood pressure. It is used as a carminative and prevents the formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract. As a stomachic, it stimulates gastric digestion and sharpens appetite.
Curcumin present in large cardamom exorts as an anti-oxidant agent, which protects the heart by preventing the deposition of cholesterol from narrowing the arteries, called atherosclerosis that is the main cause of heart attack. Large cardamom is used to combat nausea and vomitting and is often useful for migraine.
Many healers, particularly of South Asia have been successfully using this herb since centuries as an antidote for snake vemon and scorpion venom. It is also used as remedy for throat and respiratory trouble. For this purpose, the seeds of this herb are used both as preventive vis-à-vis curative measures for throat troubles, congestion of lungs and in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. Essential oil present in large cardamon is called cincole. Cineole acts as an antiseptic agent i.e; it can kill bad breath bacteria. Cineole is often used by aromatherapies as a remedy for fainting.
In the end, it is concluded that large cardamom is a versatile spice having a wide range of culinary and therapeutic uses. It is an indispensable part of our daily life. It possesses excellent food value. Analysis of the herb shows that it is low in fat and high in protein content and vitamins A, B and C. The seeds contain 10 per cent of volatile oil which is an essential factor in food items and in the preparation of certain medicines. Cardamom oil is also used in perfumes and as a stimulant.
Prof (Dr) R.D. Gupta