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The history & benefits of Cardamom (هيل) from Tibb Nabawi and modern research

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

All praise is due to Allah ﷻ who created the heavens and earth and placed in it humankind, and created for our benefit whatever is in the earth including the plants that serve as food and healing. None of this has been created without purpose, glory be to Allah ﷻ.

Amongst these bounties of Allah ﷻ, is what is regarded as the queen of spices, viz. cardamom, known commonly as هال or هيل in the arabic language. Originating in the region of South India (and Sri Lanka) it is a spice that has been used for thousands of years, first medicinally and subsequently for flavoring the many dishes in which it is now found.

Contrary to the false notions of "evolution" of mankind over "millions" of years, the appearance and mention of cardamom in the historical record rather confirms the account of the divinely revealed books and what has been taught to us through the ahadeeth, as cardamom is mentioned as only having arrived in Mesopotamia around 9000 years ago, which further shows that these herbs and spices were created and placed in the world by Allah ﷻ for mankind's benefit, as their origin in the world coincides precisely with the time when Adam (AS) and his progeny began spreading in the earth and also in the same regions that they first populated which were the first cradles of civilisation in history.

The cardamom spice is derived from the seeds of the Elettaria (Black, brown and red cardamom) and Amomum (green and white cardamom) plants which are part of the famous ginger family, زنجبيل zanjabeel, mention of which is found in the Qur'aan and also in the sunnah of Nabi ﷺ

Allah ﷻ mentions in the Qur'aan:

وَيُسْقَوْنَ فِيهَا كَأْساً كَانَ مِزَاجُهَا زَنجَبِيلاً

"And they will be given therein goblets filled with drink that is of the ginger temperament"

Generally the word "ginger" is more commonly used for the roots of the ginger family plants but in technical terms it refers to the entire plant and therefore the reference in Qur'aan is much wider than what is normally associated with zanjabeel which includes three famous spices and medicinals being turmeric root, ginger root and cardamom

The general "mizaaj" of cardamom is dry and warm, it has been used traditionally in Tibb-Nabawi to dry phlegm and damp, strengthen the digestion, treat nausea and vomiting, release fever and infection, detoxify poisons and relieve depression. When combined with pomegranate juice and cucumber it was used to treat kidney stones. It was also used for headache, liver pain, improving sleep and dissolving masses and tumors. Cardamom powder was also inserted into the nose for cases of epilepsy and unconsciousness.

From modern research studies it is known to have the following properties: Aphrodisiac, Digestive, Diuretic, Anticancer, Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-microbial, Anti-malarial, Antispasmodic, Hypolipidemic

Cardamom comes in two broad varieties, black and green.

Black cardamom, which also includes the red and brown colors, has greater affinity for heart problems, and is known to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and also to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. A study found that having cardamom regularly can improve your lipid profile, decrease the free radicals circulating in your body, and also improve blood circulation, prevent clots and thereby prevent stroke. Black cardamom also has anti-cancer benefits.

Green cardamom is the type used more in cooking and has a greater affinity for digestive problems. It increase bile secretion, which improves digestion, prevents acid reflux, and gastric disorders. Studies have also shown that cardamom, especially the green type is effective for diarrhea, vomiting and nausea from all causes including food poisoning.

Green cardamom is also very effective against the harmful bacteria known to colonize the oral cavity, it can therefore fight oral infections, reduce cavity formation, flush out plaque and treat bad breath as well. Chewing gum manufacturers have been using cardamom extracts in their formulations for this same purpose.

Recently it has also been discovered that green and white cardamom also have anti-malarial properties

Cardamom can be used in either powder, oil or original pod with seed form. I have found that for the general heart benefits powder is better and can be combined with tea as a daily routine. This also assists in controlling blood sugar provided the patient is also controlling their carbohydrate intake but it does increase the carbohydrate tolerance which can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.

For acute stomach disorders and bad breath the whole cardamom (pod and seeds) is more effective. For GIT infection, the fresh green cardamom pods are best if it can be obtained, 3 to 5 pods can be eaten daily for up to 3 days to relieve diarrhea and vomiting. For bad breath a few seeds from the pod can be eaten occasionally.

Cardamom essential oil is effective for depression and mental emotional disorders when used in an aroma diffuser, though the powder when combined with other herbal powders or mixed with talbina is also very effective. The oil is also effective for cases of malaria. Keep in mind that the pure essential oil should not be used orally on its own as it is too potent, one to three drops of the pure oil can be mixed with 100ml of water in this case for the above conditions.

Alhamdulillah for this great favour and bounty of Allah ﷻ. May Allah ﷻ grant us the ability to appreciate and thank Him for His bounties and bless us with the knowledge and ability to take benefit from them.

(For further information on the use of cardamom and other medicinals to treat illness, join one of my upcoming Tibb Nabawi courses. Subscribe to my email newsletter for details on when they will be available for enrolment ان شاء الله ﺗﻌﺎﻟﯽٰ)

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