Cardamomi Semen. U. S. (Br.)
Monograph of the USD 21st  1926.
Edited by Ivor Hughes

Cardamom seed is the dried ripe seed of Elettaria Cardamomum  White et Maton (Fam. Zingiberacea) Cardamom seed yields not more than 5 per cent. of acid-insoluble ash. U.S. Cardamom Seeds  are the dried ripe seeds of Elettaria Cardamomum, Maton. The seeds should be  kept in their pericarps and separated when required for use. Br.

Cardamom  Semina, Br.
Cardamomum Minus, Cardamomum Malabaricum; Malabar Cardamoms, Cardamoms; Cardamome du Malabar, Petit Cardamome, Fr.; Fructus  Cardamomi, P. G.; Malabar Kardamomen, Kardamomen, Kleine   Kardamomen, G.; Cardamomo minore, It, Cardamomo, Cardamomo menor, Sp.

The fruit of cardamom is official in most of the Pharmacopoeias. The U. S. Pharmacopoeia in its definition confines cardamom to the seeds. In this it  follows the British Pharmacopoeia which has always limited the drug to the seeds, but  specifically states that the fruit should be kept intact and the seeds separated when required for use. 

This step was probably a wise one as there has always been  some confusion by manufacturers as to whether the article designated as cardamom  in a formula was restricted to the seeds or not. On the other hand the pericarp  contains volatile oil. and forms an excellent surface for the grinding of the  seeds. Furthermore, the decorticated seeds are liable to adulteration with seed  of wild cardamom and other foreign seeds which are not detected except upon  careful examination.

The term cardamom
has been applied to the aromatic capsules  of various plants, most of them from India, belonging to the family of Zingiberacea:.  Formerly the terms lesser, middle and larger cardamoms were used to separate  these various fruits, but these words have been used so differently by various  writers that they no longer possess any precise signification.

The lesser cardamom of most writers is the variety recognized by the Pharmacopeias and  generally kept in the shops. The other varieties, though circulating to some  extent in European and Indian commerce, are little known in this country.

The official cardamoms
are produced chiefly in Malabar, Mysore, and  adjacent regions of India and Ceylon. They have also been cultivated in some  extent in tropical America.

The cardamom plant is a perennial herb with a  tuberous horizontal rhizome, sending up from eight to twenty erect, simple, smooth, green and shining,  perennial stems, which rise from six to twelve feet in height, and bear alternate  elliptical-lanceolate sheathing leaves. The flower-stalk proceeds from the base of the stem, and lies upon the  ground, with the flowers arranged in a panicle. The fruit is an ovoid, three-celled,  loculicidally dehiscent capsule, containing many seeds which are covered by an  aril; during drying it is said to lose three-fourth of its weight. This valuable  plant is a native of the mountains of Indo-China, where it springs, up  spontaneously in the forests after the removal of the undergrowth, and is very extensively cultivated by the natives.

For a detailed account of  culture,
see P. J., 1888;, Bull. des Bc. Pharmacol., 1906, pp. 114 and 584 and  Ph. Era, 1920, liii, 365. The plant begins to yield fruit at the end of the fourth year, and continues to bear for several years afterwards.

The capsules just before complete maturity are picked from the fruit-stems, dried over a  gentle fire or by sun-heat, and separated, by rubbing with the hands from the  foot stalks and adhering calyces. They are then washed and bleached by exposure  either to dew and sun or to vapors of burning sulphur. J. W. Mollison describes  the method of washing and curing cardamoms employed in the Bombay Presidency,  India.

The washing and manipulation is performed by women, and water from special wells is employed. The cardamoms are first. washed in earthenware  vessels containing a mixture of the well water with pounded soap nut and a  species of acacia in the proportion of two pounds of the former to a quarter  pound of the latter. About ten pounds of cardamoms are treated at one  time.

Two women stir them vigorously in the mixture for about one minute and then allow them to rest about an equal length of time, and again stir  for another minute. A thick lather results. This completes the first washing,  after which the cardamoms are baled out by hand into a basket where they are  allowed to drain for a few seconds, and then subjected to a second washing  similar to the first except that the mixture contains less of the soap nut  preparation and an additional quantity of soap solution.

They are then thrown upon a mat and sprinkled with water from the special well at intervals of a half hour until the next morning, when  they are spread upon the roof of a house and allowed to dry for four or five  hours. After nipping off the short stalk, an operation performed with a large  pair of shears, the cardamoms are sorted, only the most plump fruits being  prepared for the foreign market. Besides bleaching by this process cardamoms are  also subjected to starching in India. The starched product has a whiter  appearance than the bleached cardamoms. (B.C. D. 1904, see also Ph. Era, 1904,  137.)

The fruits, thus prepared, are ovate-oblong, from 10 to 17 mm. long, from 6  to 8 mm. thick, three-sided with rounded angles, obtusely pointed at both ends, longitudinally wrinkled, and of a yellowish-white color. The seeds constitute  about 74 parts per cent. by weight.

According to Pereira, three varieties are distinguished in commerce: 1, the shorts, from 6 to 12 mm.long, from 4 to 6 mm. broad, browner and more coarsely ribbed and more highly esteemed than the others; 2, the longlongs, from 14 to 25  mm. in length by 4 to 6 mm. in breadth, elongated, and somewhat acuminate; and 3, the short-longs, which are somewhat shorter and less pointed that the second  variety. The odor of cardamom is fragrant, the taste warm, slightly pungent, and highly aromatic.

Most of the drug goes through Bombay and Madras to the various parts of the world. That imported into the United States is either shipped direct  from Colombo, Ceylon, and Bombay, India, or through London. Malabar cardamom comes from  Colombo; Mysore cardamom from Bombay.

-Besides the official cardamoms the fruit of a large number of related plants has been more or less employed. The more important of these are noted below.

Ceylon Cardamom.-This has been denominated  variously cardamomum majus and cardamomum longum, and is sometimes termed in  English commerce wild cardamom.

It is the large cardamom of Guibourt. In the East it is  sometimes called grains of Paradise but it is not the product known with us by  that name. (See below.) It is derived from a plant cultivated in Candy, in the  Island of Ceylon, and also growing wild in the forests of the interior, which was designated by Sir James Edward Smith Elettaria major, but is now generally  acknowledged to be only a variety of the official plant.(Elettaria Cardamomum var Major Smith.) The fruit is a lanceolate-oblong, acutely triangular capsule, somewhat curved, about 3.5 cm. long and 6 to8 mm. broad, with flat and  ribbed sides, tough and coriaceous, brownish or yellow ash-colored, having  frequently at one end the long, cylindrical, three- lobed calyx, and at the  other the fruit-stalk. It is three locular, and contains angular, rugged, yellowish-red seeds, of a peculiar fragrant odor and spicy taste. Its effects  are analogous to those of the official cardamom.

Round or Siam Cardamom
.-This is  probably the Amomi uva of Pliny and is believed to be the fruit of Amomum cardomomum Willd., growing in Sumatra, Java, and other East India islands. The  capsules are usually smaller than a cherry, roundish or somewhat ovater with  three convex sides, more or less striated longitudinally, yellowish or  brownish-white, and sometimes reddish, with brown, angular, cuneiform,  shrivelled seeds, which have a spicy camphoraceous flavor. They are sometimes, though rarely, met with connected in their native clusters, constituting the  amomum racemosum, or amome en grappe, of the French. They are similar in  medicinal properties to the official, but are seldom used except in the southern  parts of Europe.

Java Cardamom.
-The plant producing this variety is supposed to be the Amomum maximum Roxburgh, growing in Java and other Malay islands in the  East. The capsules are oval, or oval-oblong, often somewhat ovate, from 1.5 to 3  cm. long, arid from 8 to 15 mm. broad, usually flattened on one side and convex  on the other, sometimes curved, three valved and occasionally imperfectly  three-lobed, of a dirty grayish-brown color, and coarse fibrous appearance.  When soaked in water, they exhibit as their distinguishing character from nine  to thirteen ragged membranous wings along their whole length. The seeds have a  feebly aromatic taste and odor. This variety of cardamom affords but a very  small proportion of volatile oil, and is altogether of inferior  quality.

Madagascar Cardamom.-This is the Cardamomum majus of Geiger and some  others, and is thought to be the fruit of Amomum angustifolium, of Sonnerat, growing in marshy grounds in Madagascar. The capsule is ovate, pointed,  flattened on one side, striated, with a broad circular scar at the bottom,  surrounded by an elevated, notched, corrugated margin. The seeds have an  aromatic flavor similar to that of official cardamom.

Bengal Cardamom.
-The fruit  of .Amomum aromaticum Roxb., sometimes known by the name of winged Bengal cardamom. Morung elachi, or Buro  elachi, is about 2.5 cm. in length, obscurely three-sided, ovoid or somewhat obconic, with nine  narrow, jagged ridges or wings (best seen after soaking in water) upon its distal end,  which terminates in a truncate bristly nipple. The taste is somewhat camphoraceous.

Nepal Cardamom is produced by an Amomum of undetermined species probably A. subulatum Roxb. and  resembles the Bengal cardamom, except in having a long tubular calyx on its  summit, and in being usually attached to a stalk.

Grains of Paradise. Grana  Paradisi
.-Under this name and that of Guinea grains, and Melegueta or Mallaguetta  pepper are found in commerce small seeds of a round or ovate form, often angular, and somewhat cuneiform, minutely rough, brown externally, white within,  of a feebly aromatic odor when rubbed between the fingers, and of a strongly hot  and peppery taste. Two kinds of them are known in the English market, one  larger, plumper, and more warty, with a short conical projecting tuft of pale  fibers on the umbilicus; the other smaller and smoother and without the fibrous tuft. The latter are the more common. It is probable that these are produced by.  Amomum Melegueta Roscoe, although they have been ascribed also to the  A. Grana Paradisi J. E. Smith.  Their effects on the system are analogous to those of pepper ; but they are  seldom used except in veterinary practice, and to give pungency to spirits,  wine, beer, and vinegar. J. C. Thresh made a proximate analysis of the seeds,  and found volatile oil, resin, tannin, starch, albuminoids, and an active  principle in the form of a straw colored viscid, odorless fluid, pungent, but  not so hot as capsaicin. (P.J.) 1884, p. 297.)
Fred'k Schwartz found in the seeds a reddish-brown acrid  resin, and an oil having a burning aromatic taste, upon which the virtues probably depend. (.A. J. P.) 1886, 118; consult also Hanausek's researches in Chem. Ztg., 1893, 1765.)

Bastard or Wild Cardamom, the seeds of Amomum  Xanthioide,s Wall., resembles true eardamom in appearance, but of a dirty green color, and has  a very biting, camphor-like taste. They come from Siam.

Description and Physical  properties. Unground Cardamom Seed. Mostly agglutinated into groups of 2 to 7 by  the adhering membranous aril, the individual seeds oblong-ovoid or irregularly  3- to 4-sided, from 3 to 4 mm. in length; convex on the dorsal surface, strongly  longitudinally grooved on the ventral side and coarsely tuberculated; externally  reddish-gray brown ; odor aromatic; taste aromatic and pungent.

Structure.-Seed coat: an epidermal layer of thick-walled cells, a pigment layer of  small cells with brownish contents, a layer of volatile oil cells with suberized walls and a single layer of radially elongated strongly lignified stone cells with inner walls heavily thickened. Perispenn large, white, surrounding a central, greenish endosperm  enclosing a small straight embryo.

Powdered cardamom Seed.-Brown; endosperm and  perisperm cells filled with starch grains from 0.001 to 0.004 mm. in diameter or containing one  or more prisms of calcium oxalate from 0.010 to 0.025 mm. in diameter; fragments  of seed coat with dark brown cellsments of seed coat with dark brown cells polygonal in surface view and about 0.020 mm. in diameter; fragments of spiral tracheae with accompanying  slightly-lignified bast-fibers relatively few. U. S.

Fruits from one to two centimetres long,  ovoid or oblong, bluntly triangular in section, shortly beaked at the apex, pale buff in color, plump and nearly smooth or ,vith slight longitudinal striations. Seeds dark reddish-brown, about three millimetres in length and the same in breadth and thickness, irregularly angular, transversely  wrinkled, and enclosed in a thin, colorless, membranous aril. The powdered Seeds exhibit  abundant, minute, angular starch grains, often compacted into masses; but no  spiral vessels, sclerenchymatous fibres, or strongly elongated sclerenchymatous cells (absence of pericarps). Aromatic odor; taste agreeably warm and aromatic. Ash not more than 6 per cent." Br.

The seeds
contain 4.6 per cent. of volatile oil, 10.4 of fixed oil, 2.5 of a salt of  potassium mixed with a coloring principle, 3.0 of starch, 1.8 of nitrogenous  mucilage, 0.4 of yellow coloring matter, and 77.3 of ligneous fiber.  (Trommsdorff.) The volatile oil is colorless, of an agreeable and very  penetrating odor, and of a strong aromatic, burning, camphorous, and bitterish  taste. It is dextrogyrate, and consists essentially of a terpene, C10H16, with  small quantities of formic and acetic acids. From old specimens of oil Dumas and  Peligot claim to have separated crystals of terpene hydrate, C10H20O2 + H2O,  while Fluckiger has obtained a crystalline deposit from Ceylon oil which he considers  identical with common camphor.
Weber (.Ann. Ch. Ph., ccxxxviii, 98) found a small amount of  a crystalline, non-volatile compound which fuses at 60 to 61 C.

Schimmel & Co. published in their semi-annual reports for April and October, 1897, some results  of investigation of several varieties of cardamom oil. The terpenes of Ceylon oil they state to be terpinene and dipentene; both Ceylon and Bengal cardamom contain cineol. Malabar cardamom yields terpineol as well as cineol, while Siam cardamom yields a crystalline sediment composed of borneol and camphor in  approximately equal proportions.

The of the oil is between 0.92 and 0.94.  It cannot be kept long without undergoing change, and finally, even though  excluded from the air, loses its peculiar odor and taste. If ether be made to  percolate through the powdered seeds, and the liquor obtained be deprived of the  ether, a light greenish-brown fluid remains, consisting almost exclusively: of  the. volatile and fixed oils. It has the odor of cardamom, and. keeps better  than the oil obtained by distillation. ( A.J.P.xxi, 116.)

The oil of cardamom of commerce is often factitious, being composed of several cheap volatile oils,  oils of cajuput, nutmeg, and others being used. Schimmel & Co. announced in 1901 that they no longer distilled the oil from the fruit  of Elettaria cardamomum, but from the seeds of another species; this oil makes a clear  solution with three parts by volume of 70 per cent. alcohol, (Schim. Rep. 1901, 14.) See Oleum  Cardomomi. The seeds should be powdered only when wanted for use, as they retain their  aromatic properties best while in the capsule.

Cardamoms are sometimes adulterated; G. W. Kennedy reported nearly 4 per cent. of orange seeds and un-roasted grains of coffee admixed with cardamom. Solstein {1892) found three commercial samples of powdered cardamom containing sodium  carbonate.

Uses.; Cardamom is a grateful aromatic, not strongly heating or  stimulating, and useful chiefly as an adjuvant. Throughout the East Indies it is largely consumed as a condiment.
It was known to the ancients; and derived its name from the  Greek language. In this country it is employed chiefly as an ingredient in compound  preparations,

Dose, fifteen to thirty grains (1 - 2 Gm.)

Off. Prep.-Pulvis  Aromaticus, N.F. (Br.) Pulvis Cretre Aromaticus, Br., N.F.Tinctura Cardamomi,  U.S. Tinctura Cardamomi Composita, U.S., Br.j Tinctura Aromatica,  N.F.

See also the  Volatile or Essential oils       

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