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XI. Pharmacological Properties of Cardamom

XI. Pharmacological Properties of Cardamom

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THE AGRONOMY AND ECONOMY OF CARDAMOM



381



B. CARMINATIVE ACTION

Both the cardamom seeds and their oil have carminative action. Tincture

cardamom is used in many medicinal preparations, which are used as carminative, stomachic, and to relieve colic pain (British Pharmacopoeia, 1993). Tincture cardamom and compound tincture of cardamom are included as oYcial

preparations in the British Pharmaceutical Codex 1963, British Pharmacopoeia

1993 and in the Chinese, Hungarian, and Japanese Pharmacopoeia as well.

Martindale (1996) in The Extra Pharmacopoeia also describes preparations of

cardamom fruits, cardamom oil, and cineole, the major constituent of cardamom oil, as carminative and flavoring agent. Cineole has been used as a

counterirritant in ointments and in dentrifices. It has also been used in nasal

preparations. Jain et al. (1994) have shown that cardamom essential oil containing preparations, such as Brahmi rasayana, suppresses castor oil induced

diarrhea in experimental rats. This points to its possible beneficial use in

humans as well.



C. ANTIMICROBIAL ACTIVITY

The terpenoid constituents are responsible for the antifungal and antibacterial eVects. Mishra and Dubey (1990) and Mishra et al. (1991) studied

the eVect of cardamom on Aspergillus flavus, the fungus which produces the

deadly aflatoxin B1. Mycostatic activity was observed at 400 ppm level. This

was found to be as potent as synthetic antifungals commonly used (Hirasa

and Takemasa, 1998). The flavor components also showed antibacterial

eVects against several food‐borne microorganisms (Kubo et al., 1991).

Another study proved that the growth of Morgenella morganii was moderately inhibited by the application of cardamom oil or powder (Shakila et al.,

1996). This organism is a potent histamine‐producing bacterium growing

on stored fish. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC percent) of

cardamom extracts for bacteria and fungi in comparison with a few other

common spices are give n the following table (Tables XLIX and L).



D. ANTICARCINOGENETIC ACTIVITY

Banerjee et al. (1994) have found that cardamom oil enhances glutathione

transferase enzyme and acid‐soluble sulfhydril activities. These enzymes

mediate the oxidation and detoxification of xenobiotics. Cardamom oil

was fed to gavage at 10 ml dayÀ1 for 14 days and hepatic microsomal

enzymes were measured. GST and acid‐soluble sulfhydril were found to be

significantly elevated (at a high statistical confidence limit of p ¼ 0.001).



382



K. P. PRABHAKARAN NAIR



Table XLIX

Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (%) of Cardamom in Comparison to Other Spice Extracts

Material

Cardamom

Cinnamon

Clove

Mace



pH



BS



Sa



Ec



St



Sm



Pa



Pv



Pm



7

5

7

5

7

5

7

5



2.0

0.1

4.0

0.5

1.0

0.5

0.2

0.1



2.0

0.5

2.0

2.0

1.0

2.0

0.05

0.5



<4

<4

4

4

1.0

1.0

<4

<4



<4

<4

4

4

1.0

1.0

<4

<4



<4

<4

4

4

1.0

1.0

<4

<4



<4

<4

4

4

2.0

1.0

<4

<4



<4

<4

2

1

1.0

0.5

<4

<4



<4

<4

4

2

1.0

0.5

<4

<4



Source: Hirasa and Takemasa (1998).

Note: BS, Bacillus subtilis; Sa, Staphylococus aureus; Ec, Escherichia coli; St, Salmonella typhimurium;

Sm, Salmonella marcescens; Pa, Psudomonas aeruginosa; Pv, Proteus vulgaris; Pm, Proteus morganii.



Table L

Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (%) for Some Fungi

Material

Cardamom

Cinnamon

Clove

Mace



Sc

4.0

1.0

0.5

<4



Cp

4.0

1.0

0.5

<4



Ck

<4

1.0

0.5

<4



P sp.

<4

1.0

0.5

<4



Ao

<4

1.0

0.5

<4



Source: Hirasa and Takemasa (1998).

Note: Sc, Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Cp, Candida parakrusei; Ck, Candida krusei; P sp., Penicillium

sp.; Ao, Aspergillus oryzae.



Hashim et al. (1994) reported that cardamom oil suppresses DNA adduct

formation by aflatoxin B1 in a dose‐dependent manner. It appeared to be

modulated through the action of microsomal enzymes.



E.



ANTI‐INFLAMMATORY ACTIVITY



Yamada (1992) reported that cardamom showed potent complement system

activating property. Complements represent the humoral arm of natural immunological host‐defense mechanism and are essential for survival. Once

activated, this kills certain bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and virus as well as cells

of higher organism. Thus, complement activation forms a major part of natural

defense aVording a range of mediators possessing immunoinflamatory potency.



THE AGRONOMY AND ECONOMY OF CARDAMOM



383



Jain et al. (1994) have shown that the drug Brahmi rasayana (an Ayurvedic

preparation) containing cardamom, with cloves and long pepper, exhibited a

dose‐dependent anti‐inflammatory activity in the case of carrageenan‐induced

rat paw edema. This drug also inhibited nystatin‐induced inflammation in

rats. Al‐Zuhair et al. (1996) have shown that cardamom oil when administered

at 175 and 280 ml kgÀ1 of body weight inhibited the growth of carrageenan‐

induced paw edema in rats by 69.2% and 86.4%, respectively. The anti‐

inflammatory activity of cardamom oil is comparable to that of indomethancin

(indometacin). El‐Tabir et al. (1997) investigated the pharmacological action

of cardamom oil on various animal systems, such as the cardiovascular system

of rats, nictitating membrane of cats, isolated rabbit jejunum, isolated guinea

pig ileum, and the frog sciatic nerve. The essential oil (5–20 ml kgÀ1 IV)

decreased the arterial blood pressure in rats and heart rate in a dose‐dependent

manner. The eVects are antagonistic to the treatment with cyproheptadine

(1 mg kgÀ1) for 5 min. Atropine was also antagonistic to the cardamom‐

induced bradycardia. The oil was not having any eVect on isolated, perfused

rat heart, and did not aVect electrically induced contractions of the cat nictitating membrane. At concentrations of less than 0.08 ml mlÀ1 the oil‐induced

contractions of the jejunum; but larger doses relaxed it. Larger dose of the oil

was antagonistic to the action of acetylcholine, nicotine, and barium chloride

on the rabbit jejunum. The oil at concentrations of 0.01–0.04 ml literÀ1 induced

contractions of the isolated guinea pig ileum; this eVect was suppressed by

atropine and cyproheptadine. Exposure of frog sciatic nerve to 0.2–0.4 ml literÀ1

cardamom oil suppressed the frog limb withdrawal reflex, exhibiting a local

anesthetic eVect (El‐Tabir et al., 1997). Al‐Zuhair et al. (1996) have shown

that cardamom oil also exhibited analgesic properties and inhibited spontaneous and acetylcholine‐induced movements of rabbit intestine in vitro in a

dose‐dependent manner.



F. OTHER PHARMACOLOGICAL STUDIES

From these pharmacological studies the beneficial eVects of cardamom,

and its oil were established. It is not a mere flavoring agent. It imparts

carminative, fungicidal, and bactericidal eVects. It activates the complement

system thereby the immunobiological defense mechanism of the human

body is enhanced. Two other studies reported with extracts of cardamom

show another aspect of its therapeutic utility. For instance, extracts of

cardamom enhance the percutaneous absorption of medicament. Yamahara

et al. (1989) studied the dermal penetration of prednisolone using mouse skin

model and reported that terpineol and acetylterpineol are the active constituents of cardamom extract, which facilitate the absorption. Huang et al.

(1993) used rabbit skin model and in vitro and in vivo studies were conducted.



384



K. P. PRABHAKARAN NAIR



They observed that the extract of cardamom enhanced the penetration into the

skin both in vivo and in vitro situations. Hence, addition of cardamom extract or

terpineol or its acetate in balms and ointments enhances the absorption of

medicament through the skin. Terpineol and bornyl acetate exhibits disinfectant and solvent properties and hence used with other volatiles for cough

and respiratory disorders. Cineole is an ingredient along with other volatile

substances for the treatment of renal and biliary calculi (Martindale, 1996).

Yaw Bin et al. (1999) also investigated the eVect of cardamom extract on

transdermal delivery of indometacin. The permeation of indometacin was

significantly enhanced after pretreatment with cardamom oil both in vitro

(rat, rabbit, and human skin) and in vivo (rabbit) studies. The indometacin

flux decreased as the length of the pretreatment increased. Both natural

cardamom oil and a cyclic monoterpene mixture composed of the components of the oil showed similar enhancement of indometacin permeation,

indicating that cyclic monoterpenes are the predominant components altering the barrier property of stratum corneum. This study also showed that the

three minor components of cardamom oil (a‐pinene 6.5%, b‐pinene 4.8%,

and a‐terpineol 0.4%) had a synergistic eVect with 1,8‐cineole (eucalyptol)

and D‐limonene to enhance the permeation of indometacin.



G. TOXICITY

There is no toxicity in the use of cardamom by‐products. The main use of

cardamom is as a spice, and as a flavorant. When flavor substances are

added to food items, no health hazard should arise at the concentrations

used, as they are used only in small doses, normally not exceeding 10–20 ppm

of the total quantity of the food item. Higher concentrations cannot be

used because of the intense odor and taste. Most of the individual components of cardamom oil were studied to assess their toxicological actions on

experimental animals. The investigations were conducted under the auspices

of international food safety program. In the series of technical Reports by

the joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, cardamom oil

and its chemical constituents are excluded from having any toxicological

eVects. In allopathy use of cardamom is only as a carminative in certain

medical formulations.



1. Antioxidant Function

Cardamom exerts only mild antioxidant function and hence is not eVective in preventing food spoilage. The antioxidant function of cardamom in

comparison with a few selected major spices is given later (Table LI).



THE AGRONOMY AND ECONOMY OF CARDAMOM



385



Table LI

Antioxidant Activity of Cardamom and a

Few Other Selected Spices Against Lard (Con. Added 0.02%)



Spice

Cardamom

Black pepper

Cinnamon

Clove

Turmeric

Nutmeg

Ginger



Ground spice

(ÃPOV, meq kgÀ1)



Petrol ether

soluble fraction

(POV meq kgÀ1)



Petrol ether

insoluble fraction

(POV meq kgÀ1)



423.8

364.5

324.0

22.6

399.3

205.6

40.9



711.8

31.3

36.4

33.8

430.6

31.1

240.5



458.6

486.5

448.9

12.8

293.7

66.7

35.5



Source: Hirasa and Takemasa (1998).

Ã

POV, peroxide value which is negatively correlated to the antioxidant property.



2.



Pharmaceutical Products



Blancow’s (1972) Martindale details the following preparations using

cardamom.

1. Aromatic cardamom tincture (BPC, tincture cardamom aromatic, carminative tincture): This is prepared in the proportion of 1 part cardamom

seed in about 15 parts of strong ginger tincture, alcohol (90%) and oil

caraway, cinnamon and clove.

2. Compound cardamom tincture (BP, tincture cardamom compound).

This is prepared from cardamom, cochineal and glycerin by percolation

with 60% alcohol. Often the tincture is decolorized by alkaloidal salts,

bismuth carbonate, calcium ions and sodium bromide

3. Compound cardamom tincture (USNF). Prepared by macerating 2 g of

cardamom seed, 2.5 g of cinnamon and 1.2 g of caraway with 5 ml

glycerin and diluted with 100 ml alcohol.



H.

1.



OTHER PROPERTIES



Effect on Stored Product Insect Pests



Huang et al. (2000) investigated the contact and fumigant toxicities and

antifeedent activity of cardamom oil on two stored product insect pests

(Sitophilus zeamais and Trilobium castaneum). Topical application was

employed for contact toxicity studies, and filter paper impregnation was



386



K. P. PRABHAKARAN NAIR



employed for testing fumigant action. The adults of both insects were

equally susceptible to the contact toxicity of the oil at the lethal dose (LD)

50 values of 56 and 52 mg mgÀ1 in the case of the insect pests Sitophilus

zeamais and Trilobium cataneum, respectively. For fumigant toxicity, the

adults of the former were more than twice susceptible than the latter at both

LD 50 and LD 95. Twelve‐day‐old larvae of Trilobium castaneum were more

tolerant than the adults to the contact toxicity of the oil. The susceptibility of

the larvae to contact toxicity increased with age. Cardamom oil applied to

filter paper at concentrations ranging from 1.04 to 2.34 mg cm–2 significantly

reduced the hatching of Trilobium castaneum eggs and the subsequent survival rate of the larvae. Adult emergence was also drastically reduced by

cardamom oil. When applied to rice or wheat, cardamom oil totally suppressed F1 progeny production of both insects at a low concentration of

0.0053 ppm. Feeding deterrence investigations showed that cardamom oil

did not have any growth inhibitory or feeding deterrence eVects on either

adults or larvae of Tribolium castaneum. However, the oil significantly

reduced all the nutritional indices of the adults of Sitophilus zeamais

(Huang et al., 2000).

2. Effect of Cardamom on House Dust Mite

It is generally held that 70% of the allergy caused in humans show positive

antigenic reaction for house dust mites (Dermatophagoides farinae and

Dermatophagoides petronyssinus). Yuri and Izumi (1994) studied the eVect

of essential oil of spices on Dermatophagoides farinae, and reported that

some of the spice essential oils were eVective against this mite (Table LII).

They used a concentration of 80 mg cmÀ2 on filter papers, and the mortality

rate was counted after 24 h. The essential oil of cardamom exerted only low

mortality rate.

Antihelminthic activity of spice extracts was studied by Tsuda and Kiuchi

(1989) and found that methanol extract of cardamom exhibited antihelminthic

eVect on dog round worm.



3.



Cardamom in Traditional Systems of Medicine



In the ancient Indian systems of medicine, namely Ayurveda, Siddha, and

Unani, cardamom is used as a powerful aromatic stimulant, carminative,

stomachic, and diuretic. It also checks nausea and vomiting and is also

reported to be a cardiac stimulant. Powdered cardamom seed mixed with

ground ginger, cloves, and caraway is helpful in combating digestive ailments. Tincture of cardamom is also made and used chiefly in medicines for



THE AGRONOMY AND ECONOMY OF CARDAMOM



387



Table LII

Mortality Rate of Dermatophagoides farinae Following the

Use of Cardamom Essential oil in Comparison with

Other Selected Spice Oils

Essentail oil of



Mortality rate (%)



Cardamom

Clove

Mace

Nutmeg

White pepper

Anise

Garlic



4.7

97.3

0.5



0.1

56.5

72.8



windiness or as a stomachic. A good nasal application is prepared by using

extracts of cardamom, neem, and myrobalan along with animal fat and

camphor. Cardamom seeds are chewed to prevent foul breath, indigestion,

nausea, and vomiting due to morning sickness in pregnancy, excessive watering in mouth (pyrosis), and so on; gargling with infusion of cardamom and

cinnamon cures pharyngitis, sore throat, and hoarseness of voice during

infective influenza. Its daily gargle protects from the influenza infection

(Pruthy, 1979).

Powdered cardamom seeds boiled in water with tea powder imparts a

pleasant aroma to tea, which is a highly popular practice in the Arab world,

and can be used as a medicine for scanty urination, diarrhea, dysentery,

palpitation of heart, exhaustion due to excessive work, depression, and so on

(Singh and Singh, 1996). Eating cardamom capsule daily with a tablespoon of

honey improves eyesight, strengthens nervous system, and keeps one healthy. It

is believed by some people that excessive use of cardamom causes impotency.

One of the main properties of cardamom is its eVect on dermatological

disorders. Medicated cardamom oil and cardamom powder can retard the

spread of diVerent hypopigmentation on the face (Nair and Unnikrishnan,

1997). Cardamom powder is a safe emetic that can be used in bronchial

asthma patients when excess of sputum is present in the lungs. Further it is

a very good cough suppressant. Cardamom finds a place in the formulation

of lozenges for the management of common cold and associated symptoms

(Nair and Unnikrishnan, 1997). In the form of tincture or powder, cardamom is a frequent adjunct to other stimulants, bitters, and purgatives.

A decoction of cardamom with its pericarp mixed with jaggery is a popular

home remedy, which relieves giddiness caused by biliousness. A mixture of

cardamom seeds, ginger, clove, and caraway in powder form in equal parts

is a good stomachic in atonic dyspepsia. A powder made of equal parts of

parched cardamom seed, aniseed, and caraway seed is a good digestive.



388



K. P. PRABHAKARAN NAIR



Cardamom is used in as many as 24 important preparations in Ayurveda in

the form of decoctions, oils, and powders as well as medicated fermented

beverages like Arishta and Aasava (Sahadevan, 1965a). Cardamom seeds

along with saVron (Crocus sativus), galengal (Alpina galanga), and ‘‘nealgor

of the corryrium’’ (Ayurvedic preparation) cure cataract and other eye

ailments like tumors in eyelids, fleshy growth, and ophthalmia.

Cardamom fruit is an emmenagogue, the only spice to qualify for this

property. Cardamom, cinnamon, tejpatra (Cinnamomum tamala), and iron

wood tree (Mesua ferrea) taken together is known as Chaturjata. They are

used to flavor electuaries to promote their actions (Warrier, 1989). Cardamomm is also a component of medicinal preparation used to cure skin

diseases, poisons, cold, and inflammation. Preparations such as Eladigana

(Ela, cardamom), are a common cure for vata (arthritis) and kapha (congestion) diseases, poison eVects, to enhance complexion, and to cure itching. It

is also an ingredient of mixtures to improve digestion, cure vomiting, cough,

and so on. Cardamom stimulates diuresis, particularly in the case of snakebite. A group of medicines known as Ariyaru kashayam (six grains) for the

skin diseases of children contains cardamom.

The Burmese (Myanmar) traditional medicine formulation—O2 (tmf‐O2)

consists of four basic plant ingredients one of which is cardamom (others

being Anacyclus pyrethrum, Glcyrrhiza glabra and Syzygium aromaticum).



I. CARDAMOM AS



A



SPICE



Cardamom for culinary use: The major use of cardamom worldwide is for

culinary purposes in the whole or ground form. In Asian kitchen, cardamom

is an important ingredient to prepare a variety of dishes, like spiced rice,

vegetables, and meat preparations. Cardamom can add a lingering sparkle

to many dishes, both traditional and modern. International trade in cardamom is dependent, however, on the demand created by specialized applications that have evolved in two distinct markets, namely, the Arab market of

the Middle East and Scandinavia.

Cardamom provides a warm, comforting feeling, and it is responsible for

the unique and exotic flavor of Bedouin coVee. In the Middle East, religious

ceremonies, social functions like marriages, etc., and celebrations are incomplete without the use of cardamom and serving the famous Arab coVee,

Gahwa (cardamom flavored coVee). It is believed by the Arabs that the

Gahwa cools the body heat in a region where extreme heat is daily feature

of life. It is also believed to aid digestion and acts as an aphrodisiac. Cardamom

is also used in indigenous Arab cooking. The Arabs have adopted a number

of Indian delicacies, especially meat based, and the Arab Biryani (a rice

based dish with diVerent kinds of meat, principally lamb or chicken meat) is



THE AGRONOMY AND ECONOMY OF CARDAMOM



389



incomplete without the sprinkling of cardamom capsules. In the Islamic

Republic of Iran, cardamom is used in making confectionery, bakery, and

meat preparations to add flavor and aroma to the products. Invariably

cardamom is found in the spice chest of Indian kitchen. The Indian housewife uses this unique spice in a variety of vegetable and meat dishes including

flavoring of sweets and also rice porridge (known locally as Payasams in

southern India and Kheer in northern India).

In European countries and North America, cardamom is used mainly in

ground form by food industries as an ingredient in curry powder, some sausage

products, fruit cups, green pea soups, curry‐flavored soups, spice dishes, rice

Danish pastry, buns, breads, rolls, cookies, desserts, coVee cakes, orange salad,

jellies, baked apple coVee, honey pickles, pickled herring, canned fish, and to a

small extent in flavoring tobacco and cigarettes. Cardamom cola, instant

Gahwa, carbonated Gahwa, biscuits, Spanish pastries, toVees, chewing gum,

and so on, are other products where cardamom is an ingredient. Various

breakfast foods using encapsulated cardamom oil are new products developed

in the recent past using cardamom. It is also used in spiced wine and to flavor

custard (by steeping crushed cardamom seeds in hot milk). In general, the

Arabs use it in coVee. The Americans use it in baked foods. The Russians

add it to pastries, cakes, and confectionery to impart the unique flavor and

aroma, while the Japanese use it in curry, ham, and sausage; the Germans use it

in curry powders, sausages, and processed meat. The list goes on where the spice

is used in countless food items.

In Scandinavia cardamom is widely used in bakery products. The ground

cardamom is mixed with flour to add flavor to most baked products and it

adds an exotic taste to apple pie (Rosengarten, 1973). In Sweden, cardamom

use is most popular with baked foods, where the per capita consumption of

such foods is about 60% greater than that in the United States. Ground

cardamom is also used to flavor hamburgers and meat loaves.

Indian cardamom is low in fat and high in protein, iron, vitamin B and C

(Pruthy, 1993). Table LIII gives the nutritional value of cardamom. In India,

it is used as a masticatory and also in flavoring culinary preparations. In

several cities of India, especially in the North Indian belt, cardamom is used

in the preparation of all kinds of puddings, which are inevitable items in

both social functions like marriages and also in religious festivities. It is also

used to lace tea, with or without lime, which is a popular and refreshing

drink in North India (Philip, 1989). And on many occasions, cardamom

seeds are oVered to be chew after sumptuous marriage feasts. Also, cardamom flavored hot water is provided in many North Indian hotels. In India,

of late, a variety of cardamom‐flavored products are being marketed, raging

from biscuits to cheese, milk‐based drinks, and so on. It is also used to make

garlands for special occasions to greet dignitaries both in India and in the

Arab world.



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