Did you know there’s a cardamom essential oil? Not only is there one… it smells heavenly.
Cardamom is a member of the ginger (Zingiberaceae) family of plants. Mmmm… ginger. But I digress. Along with an impressive root system, the plant has large leaves, green and white flowers, an edible but slightly bitter fruit, and large seeds. The seeds are the part we’re concerned with as they are distilled to make the essential oil.
There are 2 genuses of cardamom: Ellataria, known commonly as green or true cardamom, and Amomum, known variously as brown, white, red, Java, Bengal, Kravan, or Siamese cardamom. As far as I’m aware, of the two, only Ellataria is used to make essential oils.
Like all of the spice oils, cardamom is warming, but aside from that it’s got an incredibly complex aroma. It’s spicy, balsamic, and woody, with sweet, perhaps slightly floral undertones. Of all the essential oils made from seeds, it is quite possibly the most aromatic. The oil itself usually ranges from colorless to yellow, although you can occasionally find dark cardamom oil made from Ellataria seeds.
Cardamom essential oil contains high levels of 1,8 cineole which can cause central nervous system and breathing problems in young children.
Because it’s classed with the spice oils, it may be irritating to those who have sensitive skin.
There are many uses of cardamom essential oil. A few of the most common are:
This may not be trivia to some, but cardamom seed features heavily in most chai and Indian food recipes. It’s the principal spice in Garam Masala, a traditional and much used spice blend used in Indian cooking. According to WebMD, cardamom (the seed, not the EO) is used “for digestion problems including heartburn, intestinal spasms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), intestinal gas, constipation, liver and gallbladder complaints, and loss of appetite.” According to many herbal sources, it is used to relieve digestive issues caused by onions and garlic and to keep the breath fresh. According to me, it’s used to make yummy foods even yummier.