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Herbs & Botanicals

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Cardamon Seed (sha ren)

What is cardamon seed? What is it used for?

Also known as amomum, cardamom is a perennial herb that is part of the ginger family. Native to southern India, cardamom now grows throughout China and other parts of Asia, including Laos and Cambodia.

Depending on the area in which it is grown, cardamom can reach a height of 20 feet, with flowering shoots that may climb vertically or horizontally. The shoots bear numerous flowers with greenish petals and purple veins.

In addition to their culinary uses, cardamon seeds are used in many herbal remedies. Between 15 and 20 seeds are contained in one cardamom fruit. The fruits are picked just before ripening, then dried in the sun or cured. The seeds are then removed, dried in the sun, and crushed or pulverized for use when raw.

In traditional Chinese medicine, cardamom is considered warm and pungent, and is associated with the Lung and Stomach channels. Its functions are to remove dampness, promote the flow of qi, warm the spleen and stomach, and arrest vomiting and diarrhea. It helps treat abdominal distention caused by poor appetite, can reduce the incidence of nausea and vomiting in children.

How much cardamon should I take?

The typical dose of cardamom seed is between 3 and 6 grams, crushed and powdered. It is best used as a powder in combination with other herbs. Some practitioners also include cardamom seed as part of a tea or decoction.

What forms of cardamon are available?

Whole, dried cardamom seeds can be found at some Asian markets and select herbal shops. Powdered cardamom is also widely available.

What can happen if I take too much cardamon? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions or adverse side-effects associated with cardamom. However, it should be used with caution by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and should not be given to children without first consulting a health care provider. As always, make sure to speak with a licensed health care practitioner before taking cardamom or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Cohen I, Tagliaferri M, Tripathy D. Traditional Chinese medicine in the treatment of breast cancer, part three. Available online.
  • Gao YB. Zhong Guo Tang Niao Bing Fang Zhi Tie Se (The Characteristics of the Prevention and Treatment of Diabetes in China). Heilongjiang Science & Technology Press, Harbin, 1995, p. 518.
  • Heal C, Allsop M. Cooking With Spices. Vermont: David & Charles, 1983.
  • Murray M. The Healing Power of Herbs. The Enlightened Person's Guide to the Wonders of Medicinal Plants. Prima Publishing, 1992, pp. 203-09.
  • Yang M, Chen K, Chen Shih J. Yang-gan-wan protects against mice induced by anti-fas antibody Jo2. American Journal of Chinese Medicine Summer/Fall 2000.

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