Cardamom originates from India, though the plant also grows in Sri Lanka, Guatamela and Tanzania. Each pod has to be hand-harvested to collect the cardamom seeds, making cardamom an expensive spice. Only saffron is more expensive. Cardamom has several uses, including flavoring for cooking and in medicines and concoctions for health.
Cardamom has a sweet, spicy flavor with a pungent aroma and is often used in Indian cooking, especially curries, drinks, rice dishes and sweet desserts. Cardamom is less common in Western cooking, but is essential for some Scandinavian and Dutch dishes.
Cardamom is good for digestion. It can reduce flatulence and is also beneficial for heartburn. For some people, cardamom stimulates the appetite. It can help with stomach ulcers and nasal conditions by soothing the mucous membranes. Cardamom tea is a good way to consume the spice to counter indigestion.
Cardamom seeds can be chewed for a few minutes to counter halitosis. The pleasant aroma masks the odor of bad breath. You can also gargle an infusion of cardamom and cinnamon to soothe a sore throat and reduce the hoarseness associated with upper respiratory illnesses. A daily gargle of the mixture can act as a preventative for influenza.
When mixed with a tablespoon of banana leaf and amla (gooseberry) juice, cardamom seeds can provide relief from the burning feeling accompanying some cystitis or urinary tract infections. It is also a diuretic and can increase the output of urine, making it especially useful when a UTI causes scant urine production.
Cardamom enjoys a reputation for countering male impotence. It is supposed to help with premature ejaculation as well, though the mechanism of how it works isn't fully understood. The use of large amounts of cardamom has been associated with causing impotence, so less is more when utilized for this purpose.