Ela [Elettaria cardamomum (Linn.) Maton] -
Ela (Cardamom) is one of the common spices found in almost every Indian kitchen and is known for its medicinal properties in traditional medicine. It is a stout large perennial herb that grows naturally and also cultivated in many parts of south India at elevations from 750 to 1500 metres. Ela seeds are used for aromatic and appetizing property in various food preparations and for chewing alone or along with other aromatic spices as a mouth freshener and appetizer. It is an effective home remedy for many common ailments of the digestive system.
Powder of cardamom seeds alone is specifically indicated for the treatment of symptoms resulting from excess heat or acidity in the body system. Easy accessibility, cost effectiveness, long history of safe use, palatable taste and small dose are attributes that make this formulation a simple but ideal home remedy for first-hand management of common ailments like vomiting, loss of appetite, indigestion, gastric irritation, nausea, burning sensation, thirst, giddiness, burning urination, bad smell from mouth, etc.
Composition - Ela powder consists of finely powdered seeds of dried fruits of cardamom.
English name - Cardamom
Latin name - Elettaria cardamomum (Linn.) Maton
Family - Zingiberaceae
Parts used - Seeds
Main chemical constituents - Essential oils (α-terpineol, myrcene, etc.).
Dosage form - Brownish powder with strongly aromatic odour and characteristic taste. The powder can be filled into capsules.
Therapeutic properties -
(1) Ela has cooling, anti-emetic, stimulant, carminative, digestive, stomachic and appetizing properties.
(2) Pharmacological studies have proven Ela seeds to have antiinflammatory, analgesic, anti-spasmodic, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties.
Indications and uses - Nausea, vomiting, gastritis, indigestion, anorexia, excessive thirst, giddiness and bad taste of mouth.
Precautions and safety aspects -
(1) Traditionally, cardamom seeds are regarded as safe owing to their use as a home remedy and a common spice in various food items and beverages. No adverse effect and toxicity is reported in the literature. However, there are reports that cardamom seeds can trigger gallstone colic and hence not recommended for self-medication in patients with gallstones.
(2) Patients with vomiting as a major symptom should take small meals in liquid or semi-solid forms made of soft easily digestible materials. Overeating, irregular eating and heavy, fiber-rich and spicy foods should be avoided.
(3) Fresh concoction of cardamom seeds as described above should be used if the patient does not find seed powder palatable.
(4) Strenuous work, anxiety and stress should be avoided for successful management of vomiting. Adequate bed rest and sleep at proper time help a lot to enhance the effect of medication.
(5) Medical advice should be sought if vomiting is drastic and is not controlled with Ela powder and the patient’s condition deteriorates rapidly. The underlying cause of vomiting must be properly treated with suitable medication.
(6) Mere symptomatic relief of vomiting should not be attempted, if the condition gets severe and non-responsive to self-medication with Ela powder and similar other home remedies.
(7) Medication with Ela powder should be restricted to mild to moderate vomiting mainly resulting from gastrointestinal causes and pregnancy. Specific treatment of the underlying cause is required in kidney failure, cancer of stomach, worm infestation, brain tumour and psychogenic vomiting.
(8) Ela powder is safe during pregnancy and for breast-fed children.