There are two varieties of cardamom. Large or big cardamom and a small pod variety—green cardamom. Big cardamom is called black cardamom, Bengal cardamom, or Siamese cardamom and belongs to the Amomum genus. The smaller variety is from the Elettaria genus. Both Amomum and Elettaria genus belongs to the same Zingiberaceae family. Ginger is another popular spice that belongs to this family.
Besides India, cardamom is grown as a commercial crop in Guatemala. On a smaller scale, cardamom is also cultivated in Tanzania, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Honduras, and Papua & New Guinea.
Small cardamom (Elleteria sps) was observed to reduce blood pressure in stage 1 hypertensive individuals. It also helps reduce blood clot formation and raises the antioxidant levels in the body (Verma et al. l, 2009). Cardamom extract was seen to inhibit human platelet aggregation (Suneetha et al., 2005). Verma et al. (2010) found Amomum subulatum to be a cardio-adaptogen against physical stress.
It is a diuretic with sedative action (Gilani et al., 2008). They believe that lower blood pressure is due to the diuretic and sedative properties of the species. The antioxidant effect of the bark and black cardamom seed was also observed in an experiment conducted on rats fed on a high-fat diet (Dhuley, 1999). The antioxidant property of cardamom was observed to vary with variety (Amma et al., 2010).
The anti-convulsant and sedative property of an Ayurvedic formulation Unmadnashak Ghrita has Elletaria cardamomum, Gardenia gummifera, Ferula narthex, Bacopa monneri, and cow’s clarified butter, was observed in an experiment conducted on mice (Achliya et al., 2004).
In Ayurveda, cardamom is widely used for relief in digestion-related ailments. In India, green cardamom is used to treat infections in the teeth and gums. The spice is also used to prevent and treat throat troubles, get relief from congestion of the lungs and pulmonary tuberculosis, and reduce inflammation of eyelids. It is also reportedly used as an antidote against both snake and scorpion venom.