Cardamom Essential Oil

The more observant you may remember, we have already focused on Cardamom essential oil once, in the summer. The longer you use essential oils, the more you realize there are several to come back to repeatedly.

Reliable friends, you can always depend on them, with their skills and beauty. I call these my healing clique. Despite being one of my most important allies, I notice very few other people use cardamom essential oil, so it's one of my life's works to promote it far and wide! While Cardamom is not specifically a sacred oil, "The Queen of Spices" has much to teach about the sacredness of just being.

A staple ingredient of Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, Cardamom is also important in Scandinavian dishes after the Vikings discovered it and took it North. After saffron and vanilla, Cardamom is the world's most expensive spice by weight.

The cardamom plant grows on the forest floor and can stretch 10 feet tall, producing pale green lantern-like pods, each containing twenty-five jet-black seeds. The fruits are picked or clipped from the stems just before maturity. They are then washed and left to dry in the sun or a heated curing chamber before being steam distilled to make cardamom essential oil.

The chemical constituents, terpinene, cineol, and limonene, make it intensely aromatic, conjuring thoughts of sassafras, eucalyptus, allspice, cloves, camphor, and pepper. Its taste and taste and aroma are pungently sweet, complex, and misleading. Some describe it as akin to cloves and ginger, while others speak of a more minty taste with hints of lemon.

A History of Cardamom

Cardamom originates from the Kerala Hills in the Western Ghats of Southern India. When British colonists visited India in the nineteenth century, they saw huge potential in the Cardamom and established vast plantations from which both green and black Cardamom were still exported. Cardamom thrives in conditions where rainfall is well spread and the soil is rich and forest-loamy.

These conditions are also found in Guatemala, which first tried growing the spice in the 1920s and has overtaken India and Sri Lanka in production to become the largest exporters of Cardamom in the world. Cardamom is now even more valuable in some parts of the country than coffee as a crop. 

The cardamom trade can be traced linguistically along the Silk Route back as far as 4000 years, overland into Asia Minor, and then by sea to the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa. 

Cardamom is mentioned in the Taittiriya Samhita, an Indian political Vedic text, where it describes how cardamom seeds should be thrown onto the ceremonial fire burned to solemnize Hindu marriage. Presumably, this was to induce the aphrodisiac properties described in the beautiful story Arabian Nights.

Bedouin usage of Cardamom on the Arabian Peninsula is incredibly ancient, and nomadic Bedouins still carry special coffee pots on the backs of their camels that have special chambers built into their spouts to steep cardamom pods.

Cardamom In The Ancient World

Documents show that the Ancient Egyptians had many uses for Cardamom. A medical document dating to 1500BC,  the Ebers Papyrus, described them as chewing cardamom pods to clean their teeth and freshen their breath and for digestive purposes. In 176CE, Alexandria was a designated port for the retail of frankincense; documents also cite Cardamom as an Indian spice liable for duty.

Cardamom oil was also used in their funerary practices and ritualistically. To be clear, their cardamom oil would have been vegetable or animal fats that had been heated and the cardamom pods soaked in. Not quite the same as Cardamom essential oil, which may have been one of the first made, given that distillation was invented by the Arabs more than a millennium later. 

In the same way, the Greeks and Romans used cardamom oils in ointments and salves but also as a luxurious addition to perfume. Given the excess associated with Roman festivals, Cardamom likely made a welcome antidote to the notorious overindulgence.

It made its way to Greece, Rome, and Egypt via merchants traveling from Babylonia. It has been suggested that Cardamom would have been grown in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Certainly, The Babylonian King Merodach-Baladan II (721-710 BC) of Babylonia kept records on cultivating the 64 species he was growing in the palace gardens, which included Cardamom and Cardamom coriander, garlic, thyme, saffron, and turmeric.

The religion of the time centered around a moon god who also governed the medicinal plants. There, Cardamom was harvested under the moon to increase its medicinal powers. Records suggest that Cardamom had reached Babylon by 7000 BCE and arrived in Greece no later than 50 CE.


When the Vikings pillaged Constantinople in 860 CE, the warriors discovered a fragrant gem and returned it to Scandinavia. Cardamom is now an important spice in many Swedish and Finnish traditional baked goods. It features in their mulled wine drink called Glogg, pastries, and meatballs.

The Medicine of Cardamom Essential Oil

The complexity of cardamom spice is that it is simultaneously sweet and astringent. It is a key ingredient in many of the great spice mixtures of the world; Indian curry powders,  Syrian, Turkish, and Iraqi baharat, Yemeni zhoug, and Malaysian masalas all feature Cardamom. Here, the sour sharpness of Cardamom is the star of the show; rice puddings (Roz bi haleeb) and man'oushé pastries all relish its sweetness. The Lebanese coffee Mazbûta, Lebanon, is typically served with a dash of orange blossom water and a pinch of ground cardamom. It is also a regular ingredient in chai. 

Chi is a great example of how good India is at using food as medicine. 

How Cardamom Essential Oil Exerts its Magic

Cardamom is tridoshic. That means it balances all three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. When these three are balanced, the radiant secret shines through.

Vata Dosha

Vata dosha is considered an air element, best imagined as the wind moving across sand in the desert. Vata dosha is cold, dry, and brittle. Cold hands and feet, creaky, stiff joints, and flaky skin and bones. This airy energy affects the mind. It makes it hard to concentrate. Thoughts become more nebulous and forgetful. When someone has an excess of Vata dosha, their bones and skin become more brittle, and they tend to lose appetite. Everything within the constitution dries out, not only the skin but also the joints. The mouth gets parched, the nasal and vaginal cavities become dry, and stools become hard and dry. Overwork and exhaustion are apt to make the body more Vata, but we also become more Vata as we age. 

So, pacifying Vata, cardamom essential oil warms the body and joints. It moisturizes the skin and lubricates both the skeleton and mucus membranes. 

Its action on digestion is interesting because it pacifies Vata and tonifies pitta, which could be easily misconstrued as going in the opposite direction. 

Pitta Dosha

Pitta is best imagined as water being thrown onto hot oil. It is hot, moist, and reactive. Pitta dosha's skin is oily, red, and sore. Urinary problems are rife, and this time we see diarrhea, but cardamom essential oil can still bring this into balance.

Pitta dosha is sharp both emotionally and mentally…. People who naturally have a pitta constitution are fast thinkers, natural leaders, and good communicators. Still, if pitta dosha goes out of alignment because of overwork, too much sun, or spicy food, you'll likely see bad tempers and sharp tongues, and there can be a tendency to be sarcastic and condescending. 

Kapha Dosha

Kapha dosha is imagined as water with the Earth element; essentially, it's mud. Heavy, strong, and thick. People with a strong Kapha constitution are big, big-boned, strong, and filled with stamina. You'll never see them rush. They are the plodders but make no mistake; they will work longer and harder than any of us. Kaphas are not often drawn to the limelight. They are rarely leaders. Instead, they are the ones who quietly turn up every day, keep their cool, and say very little. Kapha dosha people make the world a lovelier place. They create no stress, will always be where you expect them to be when you need them, and have time to sit and listen with a big warm hug.

Things get heavier, thicker, and stodgier when Kapha dosha goes out of whack. Blocked noses, phlegm on the chest, varicose veins, weight gain, thick oiliness on the skin that clogs pores. Kapha dosha can cause acne that fills with pus and causes scarring. Indigestion, heartburn, diabetes, and our old friend's constipation (again) are all associated with Kapha dosha. 

Thought processes become slow and unimaginative. It's easy to feel melancholy or as if you are in a rut when Kapha dosha decides to take up residence. 

Now, consider that there are three doshas, and cardamom essential oil is helpful for all of them. This would explain why it is so useful to so many people. Useful for everyone, is it?

Cardamom Essential Oil For Digestive Issues

Cardamom has a tonic effect on the metabolism, helping to speed digestion and reducing flatulence. Hence its use in so many cuisines.

It's often mixed with other medicinal spices to relieve discomfort, nausea, and vomiting. Preliminary studies done with rat experiments suggest it can heal stomach ulcers. (Jamal, 2006)

Cardamom essential oil can ease heartburn, intestinal spasms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), intestinal gasses, and liver and gallbladder complaints. It is very useful for people who have lost their appetite.

Cardamom Essential Oil For Skin

The first time I experienced the magic of cardamom essential oil was when I holidayed in Egypt for my 21st birthday. I am a textbook pitta dosha example, with red hair, milky skin, and freckles, a quick thinker with a very sharp tongue. Sunshine, then can be difficult for me. I suffer sunstroke and sunburn and become a rather unpleasant person to be around. To protect everyone around me, my mom made me an after sun cream to help my complexion deal with the fierce sun. It had patchouli, Cardamom, and spearmint in it. It was so cooling when I applied it, and I could feel the Cardamom reconditioning the skin every time I put it on. I had no issues with sunstroke or bad tempers, and even my stomach kept up with all the delicious spicy foods. 

Cooling to rashes and sunburn, calming for reactive skins and rashes, astringent enough to settle down oiliness but nourishing and nurturing to dryness. It's a great oil for someone prone to pimples and blackheads, especially if combined with grapefruit. 

Its effect on Vata dosha means it's a great tonic for dry, flaky, or brittle skin.

The Antibacterial and Antimicrobial Activity of Cardamom Essential Oil

As we have seen, Cardamom was used over three thousand years ago for ancient Egyptian tooth care. In 2020, a trial investigated how Cardamom is so effective in the area. The Cardamom killed several oral bacteria and reduced inflammation in the gingiva and around the teeth. (Souissi, 2020)

Another trial showed that cardamom essential oil inhibits quorum sensing (Abdullah, 2017), a language used by bacteria to communicate the density and populations of cells. Do we need to replicate and reproduce now? Should we be emitting bioluminescence? Do we need to create more population to spread infection? Cardamom says, "Shhhhhh bacteria, no need to work so hard. Take a break. I think you have done enough for now."

Cardamom Essential Oil's Effect On Mood

I always say that Cardamom is like drinking coffee on hundreds of cushions outside a Bedouin tent. Lazing back after a delicious dinner looking up at the stars. Using Cardamom reminds you that there is nowhere more important than this moment in this place. Nowhere to go, nothing to do except enjoy that moment of perfection.

It's such an important essential oil for the holiday season because it's so easy to get caught up in worrying about everything that needs to be done. We live in ridiculous times when it comes to this time of year. Every film tells you to make cookies, ice skate, decorate the house, spend money on so many gifts then wrap them up. It's enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed and disappointed. Even if you did have enough time and money to do it all, I'm sure I don't have the energy.

Finally, we get a chance to stop and enjoy being with family. Cardamom reminds you to sit and count your blessings. Rest and congratulate yourself on how far you've come. Think of all those things you have achieved over these last few days, and for some of us, that might just be being able to get out of bed! And you know, that's Ok, as long as you recognize you did it and congratulated yourself for it.

Perhaps, it's the bacteria simmering down to sleep that makes you feel that way. Still, very oddly, cardamom essential oil does the same to human thought processes as it does when it quietens bacterial signaling.

What Does Cardamom Essential Oil Blend Well With?

Its complex aroma means it can be blended in several ways.

Cardamom essential oil acts as a middle-to-top note. It has a floral sweetness, which means it goes beautifully with things like rose, geranium, ylang ylang or palmarosa.

Of course, it is wonderful with spices if you want to settle a gurgly belly.

Cardamom essential oil is beautiful with woods like sandalwood and cedar that also quieten the mind.

Safety of Cardamom Essential Oil

    • Maximum dilution is 3%
    • Not suitable for use in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy 


Anytime you feel frenetic or stressed, turn to cardamom essential oil. If you feel stuck in a rut, melancholy or sad, it will remind you of the beauty of being alive.

It adds specialness to any moment in life, almost as if you can hear the moments between your heartbeats as if they were stardust sprinkling in your chest. Feel calmer in your stomach and heart. Smile more and rest, knowing that sitting and just being is worthwhile.

Life is just ordinary yet beautiful, and it's easy to take it for granted and let beautiful moments slip by. Cardamom essential oil whispers, look, for just a moment. This is down to you. You created this, and it's marvelous.

Also Read: What Is Cardamom Essential Oil Good For?

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