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Cardamom, the Epic Spice

· Essential Oils
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Cardamom’s history is legendary, its popularity spans cultures and millennia, and its best uses are up for debate. Wow, where do we even start? Take a deep breath - preferably with a whiff of dōTERRA® Cardamom, if you already possess a bottle! - as we begin to wrap our minds around how cardamom became queen among spices and why Cardamom oil is such a treasure.

Native to Southeast Asia yet grown and utilized all over the world today, including Africa and Central America, cardamom seems to have been all things to all people throughout the course of history. In ancient Egypt, it was a tooth cleaner; Greco-Roman culture viewed it as a perfume; and Scandinavians have used cardamom to flavor alcohol, sweets, and more for a thousand years. People of the Far East and Middle East were the first to discover the broad applications of this spice. They soon placed a high value on it, partially due to the labor intensive extraction process, yet also due to the realization that its uses reached far beyond cuisine to areas including health and relationships. Cardamom is both spicy and sweet, offering cooling capabilities with a warming aroma. Sound contradictory? Maybe that interplay is part of what makes Cardamom such an epic essential oil!

In the geographically diverse Central American country of Guatemala, dōTERRA® produces Cardamom by steam distilling the plant’s dried seed pods in a responsible process that properly values the hard-working farmers who make harvest possible. Cardamom works well with other intense oils such as Peppermint, Cinnamon Bark, and Ginger, to which it is chemically related. This close chemical relation to Ginger explains why Cardamom is known to promote clearer breathing and support the process of healthy digestion. Like Ginger, Cardamom is wonderful to have on hand in the case of overindulgence (which surely won’t happen to anyone over the holidays…) or to help ease occasional tummy discomfort.

Interestingly, Cardamom’s soothing effect on respiration and digestion are mirrored by its soothing effect on the emotions. With the body and mind so intricately wired, it comes as no surprise that inhaling the spicy, fruity aroma of Cardamom can clear the mind and sharpen our thinking. To create an inviting atmosphere in your living space that is both soothing and grounding, diffuse warm Cardamom with woody Balsam Fir. It’s a combination that’s hard to beat during this time of year!

Traditional Indian cuisine utilizes all these benefits and more by adding cardamom as a spice to sweets and teas; and the cool, almost minty flavor is just a bonus on top of the spice’s renowned digestion- and mood- boosting powers. Try adding dōTERRA Cardamom to some of your favorite recipes. To go Scandinavian, add it to a meatball recipe; for an Indian flair, mix it into some curry. To experience Cardamom’s distinct flavor in a lighter medium, toss a drop into a salad, smoothie, or cup of tea. In the Middle East, the spice is mostly enjoyed in a cup of coffee. But a spice doesn’t earn a queenly reputation without packing a flavorful punch, so you’ll want to get familiar with it to find the right amount for your cooking and baking routine!

In order for cardamom to achieve such high value around the world, it spent centuries making an epic journey across seas and borders, leaving its mark on every culture it touched. Cardamom’s current accessibility as a dōTERRA essential oil makes it easy for us to find our own favorite uses for this versatile spice!