Heliotrope San Francisco

The word Cardamom generally calls to mind Indian cuisine, or if you are dessert minded, perhaps Scandinavia, or the Middle East. Personally, I know I’ve found a coffee shop I’ll like if I can detect the aroma of cardamom layered with fragrance of coffee. The uses of Cardamom go far beyond creating delicious food.

In India, where the plant originates, it has been used for thousands of years medicinally, to season food, and in ritual. In Ayurvedic medicine, it has been used for thousands of years to treat everything from digestive issues to freshen breathe and to improve mood and as a treatment for depression. It is thought to bring balance to all three doshas - the energies that circulate in the body and determine the physiological processes. It is a warming spice and has long been used in India to increase digestive fire.

Botanical illustration by Franz Eugen Köhler

Cardamom is related to ginger and it is a perennial; it lives for two years. Along with cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, ginger, among others, Cardamom was one of the highly valued spices traded between India, Asia and the Middle East. It was among the first spices and commodities traded between civilizations.

From the Middle East, it made it’s way into the ancient cultures of Greece, Rome, and Egypt.  Cardamom was one of the plants grown in the Gardens of Babylon and it is cited in the tales of the Arabian Nights as an aphrodisiac. It is also connected with love in ancient India. In 3000 b.c.e. Cardamom is mentioned in the Vedic text, Taittiriya Samhita which says that it was used in the ceremonial fire burned to solemnize a Hindu marriage. In this era, the Vikings experienced Cardamom in what is now Turkey and brought the spice back with them to Scandinavia. In Sweden and Finland it is used to flavor many traditional baked goods.

For thousands of years, cardamom has been used everywhere it touched medicinally, in ritual and in cooking. The Greeks and Romans expanded on those uses and created aromatic oil and used it for perfume. It was also mentioned in their medical texts

Cardamom pods some of which are broken open and seeds are visible.

The pod is the main part used from the plant. It is a greenish color and is shaped a bit like a football. Often the pod is used in cooking, but after the pod is dried, the seeds, whole or ground into a powder, is the part that is most often used. Essential oil is extracted from the seeds as well.

Currently, cardamom is the third most valuable and expensive spice after vanilla and saffron. In the 1800's British colonists developed cardamom plantations in it's native Southern India and in the early 1900s a German business man introduced it in Guatemala. In some parts of Guatemala, it is considered a more valuable crop than coffee. This country is the world's largest producer and exporter of cardamom.

The scent is unique and impossible to reproduce synthetically. It's fragrance has been described as sweet and spicy with woody undertones.

Here are some of the reasons we use Cardamom in aromatherapy:

1. In traditional aromatherapy, the scent is thought to improve concentration and to fortify mental functioning. 

2. It is considered to be a calming tonic for the mind and emotions.It soothes nervous tension.

3. Mixed into massage oil, it's antispasmodic properties help to soothe muscles. This can be particularly useful when massaged on the belly / abdomen to help bring ease to an upset stomach or digestive system.

4. The scent is effective in relieving nausea and vomiting associated with both pregnancy and chemotherapy.

5. The scent can help one to feel more grounded.

6. As an aphrodisiac, it revives appetite for life. The spicy scent brings clarity to the mind and the earthiness awakens our sensual side. The scent works well in a sensual massage.

7. The scent promotes respiratory health and can bring relief from coughs.

8. In Ayureveda, cardamom tea is used as a treatment for depression. Although not yet studied in the west, the scent is considered by many to lift the mood.

On sale through the end of this month, experience the muscle relaxing and mood lifting benefits of Cardamom blended with black fig in our Soy Wax & Shea Butter Massage Candle or the Coconut Oil & Goat's Milk Moisturizing Soap.

The fragrance of cardamom blends well with bergamot, rose, cedar, cinnamon, clove, orange and ylang ylang. You can experiment and blend your own special fragrance or choose one of our unique blends to use as a personal all natural perfume or to customize one of our unscented products. Be sure to use a carrier oil with essential oils and avoid putting them directly on your skin.

Enhancing features cardamom blended with blood orange, ylang ylang and black pepper in a mood enhancing combination.

Stimulating combines black pepper, bay laurel and cardamom in a blend that invigorates.

Nostalgic uses black pepper, bay laurel, sandlewood, bergamot and cardamom together in a scent that is spicy and meditative.

Experience cardamom combined with sweet vanilla and the floral jasmine in our Relaxing scent.

 

 

 

Written by Jen Bator — April 24, 2017

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