Applications To Health Promotion And Disease Prevention

The seed, which is where the essential oils are mainly found, has potential applications as an antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antioxidant, and is also reported to act as an efficient skin-

permeation enhancer for certain drugs. Cardamom is officially listed in the Pharmacopoeia of 289

India, the UK, and the USA.

Skin-penetration enhancing activity

The essential oils from the seeds of Elettaria cardamomum have been reported to show good skin permeation activity for certain drugs. The oils from Elettaria cardamomum interact with the lipids of the horny layer of the skin, resulting in the destruction of the structural order of the skin and thus increasing the diffusion capacity of the active components by the lipid intercellular pathway. An in vitro study on the permeation of estradiol through hairless mouse skin revealed that complex terpenes are responsible for the enhancement of transdermal permeation for moderately lipophilic drugs like estradiol (Monti et al., 2002). The in vivo and in vitro studies on the permeation of indomethacin showed that permeation was significantly enhanced after pretreatment with cardamom oil. This increased permeation was mainly due to the presence of cyclic monoterpenes from Elettaria cardamomum (Huang et al., 1999).

Anticarcinogenic activity

The oils from Elettaria cardamomum seeds exhibited in vitro anticarcinogenic activity by inhibiting the formation of DNA adducts by aflatoxin B1 in a microsomal enzyme-mediated reaction (Hashim et al., 1994). This enzymatic modulation may be due to the chemical constituents of the oils, which form the basis for their potential anticarcinogenic roles. Elettaria cardamomum seed extract also showed a protective effect on platelets against aggregation and lipid peroxidation (Suneetha & Krishnakantha, 2005). An aqueous suspension of cardamom has shown protective effects on experimentally induced colon carcinogenesis (Sengupta et al., 2005).

Anti-ulcerogenic activity

The petroleum ether soluble extract from Elettaria cardamomum seeds was screened for aspirin-induced anti-ulcerogenic activity in rats. The petroleum ether soluble extract inhibited lesions by nearly 100% at 12.5 mg/kg (Jamal et al., 2006).

Antimicrobial activity

The extracts from Elettaria cardamomum exhibited antimicrobial activity against oral microbes. The essential oils from Elettaria cardamomum showed marked inhibitory effects to select pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms. The alcoholic extracts of cardamom seeds were found to possess antibacterial activity against the human pathogenic strain of Salmonella typhi (Singh et al., 2008). Elettaria cardamomum is one of the ingredients of a herbal syrup that has been found to have antimicrobial action against E.coli, B.proteus, Klebsiella, and Pseudomonas.


Elettaria cardamomum seed extract is one of the ingredients of the polyherbal formulation for treating the dementia of Alzheimer's disease (Aaishwarya et al., 2005).The extract is also used in herbal combinations utilized in the treatment of anxiety, tension, and insomnia (Prema-latha & Rajgopal, 2005). An in vivo study of an ayurvedic formulation containing cardamom as one of the ingredients shows that the formulation has CNS-depressant and anticonvulsant activity in mice (Achliya et al., 2004). A multi-ingredient herbal formulation with Elettaria cardamomum as one of the ingredients is found to be useful in the treatment of sore throats (Prakash, 2001). Cardamom is one of the ingredients of a Tibetan herbal formulation that was found to inhibit cell proliferation accompanied by the accumulation of CEM-C7H2 cells in subGl phase, fragmentation of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), and nuclear body formation (Jenny et al., 2005). The volatile oils from Elettaria cardamomum are also reported to reduce edema by increasing the permeation of ion-paired DS across viable skin (Sapra et al., 2000). Eugenol inhibited tobacco-induced mutagenicity at concentrations of 0.5 and 1 mg/plate, and eugenol and the plant extracts also inhibited the nitrosation of methyl urea in a dose-dependent manner (Sukumaran & Kuttan, 1995). The antispasmodic activity was studied in a rabbit intestine preparation, using acetylcholine as agonist. The results from this study showed that cardamom seed oil exerts its antispasmodic action through muscarinic receptor blockage (Al-Zuhair et al., 1996). The extract from the seeds of cardamom also exhibited diuretic properties (Gilani et al., 2008)

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