Black Cardamom: Uses, Dose, Side Effects, Research, Remedies

Black cardamom is also known as greater cardamom and Brihad ela in Sanskrit. Botanically, Amomum subulatum is a herb mentioned in Ayurveda for the treatment of pain, to eradicate bad odor, increase the appetite, treat skin diseases, nausea. 
Latin Name- Amomum subulatum Roxb.
Family- Zingiberaceae

Amomum subulatum

Vernacular names

Names in different languages:
Hindi Name- Badi ilayachi
English Name- Black cardamom, Greater cardamom, Nepal cardamom
Bengali Name- Badh elach
Gujarati Name- Elcha
Kannada Name- Dodda elakki
Tamil Name- Peria elam
Telugu Name- Tengu elakulu

Sanskrit synonyms

Sanskrit Synonyms of Brihat Ela:
Brihad ela/ Sthula ela, Mahaila – The size of the pod is bigger than cardamom
Trividodhbuta, Triputa- The pod has 3 edges
Surabhi Twak, Tvak Sugandhika, Divyagandha- The seeds have a pleasant smell
Puta – due to pod shape
Badra ela, Bahula, Bhadraila, Patraila, Kanyaka, Pruthveeka, Chandrabala, Nishkuti,

 Greater cardamom pods

Brihat ela is a short plant growing to a height of up to 1-1.5 meters in Bengal, Assam and Himalayan regions of Northeast India. The flowers are whitish, densely formed. The fruit pod is about 2-3 cm long with reddish brown color.

Classical categorization

Bhavaprakasha- Karpooradi varga
Dhanvantari Nighantu- Shatapushpadi varga
Kaiyyadeva Nighantu- Oushadhi varga
Shodala Nighantu- Shatapushpadi varga
Raja Nighantu- Pippalyadi varga

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Zingiberaceae
Genus: Amomum
Species:A. subulatum, A. costatum

Properties, part used, dosage

Greater cardamom – Brihat Ela – medicinal Properties:
Rasa (Taste) – Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
Guna (Qualities) – Laghu (Light for digestion), Ruksha (Dry in nature)
Vipaka – – Katu (Undergoes Pungent taste after digestion)
Veerya (Potency) – Ushna (Hot)
Karma (Actions) – Kaphavata shamaka (reduces vitiated kapha and vata dosha), Pitta vardaka (increase pitta dosha)


Part used- Fruit pod/ Seed
Dosage- Powder of seed 1-3 g

Chemical composition, Uses

Chemical composition of Amomum subulatum:
The seed of Amomum subulatum contains cardamomin, a flavonoid alpinetin, petu-nidin-3,5- diglucoside and leucocyanidin glucoside. The essential oil of the seed contains cineole.

Uses of Black cardamom – Brihadela:

  • The cold infusion of the seeds of Amomum subulatum is used for gargling to treat diseases of the oral cavity like dental caries, inflammation of the gums.
  • The paste of the seeds of Brihat ela is applied over the area affected with skin diseases like eczema, ringworm.
  • The paste of the seeds of Brihat ela is applied over forehead to treat headache.
  • The powder of the seeds is chewed to reduce the foul breath.
  • The seed of the powder of Amomum subulatum is consumed in a dose of 2-3 g to treat nausea, motion sickness.
  • Cold infusion of Brihat ela is consumed in a dose of 10-15 ml to treat indigestion, anorexia and distention of the abdomen.
  • The powder of the seed is given in a dose of 3-5 g with honey to treat cough.
  • The oil prepared using seeds of Brihat ela is applied over the body parts having pain and swelling.
  • The paste of the seeds of Amomum subulatum is applied over the external pile mass to reduce it.
  • The aromatic oil prepared from the seeds is used as nasal drops to treat sinusitis.
  • The paste of the seed is applied over the body or the cold infusion of the seed is given in a dose of 15-20 ml to treat kaphaja jwara (fever due to vitiated kapha dosha)
  • The seed of Brihat ela is crushed and used as an aromatic agent during the preparation of various dishes.

Sanskrit verse

black cardamom brihadela-uses

Traditional Ayurvedic benefits of black cardamom:
Rochani – improves taste, useful in anorexia
Indicated in –
Kasa – cough, cold
Vatasra – Gout
Shwasa – asthma and chronic respiratory disorders
Hrullasa – nausea
Trushna – excessive thirst
Kandu – itching, pruritis
Shiroroga – headache
Vastiroga – diseases of urinary tract
Asyaroga – oral disorders
Vami – vomiting
Visha – Toxic conditions, poisoning
Kantaruja – throat pain, sore throat

Side effects

Contraindication and side effects of greater cardamom:
There is no special contra indication to use Brihat ela but persons suffering from hyper acidity have to minimize the use as excessive usage may cause hyperacidity and mouth ulcers. 

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Ayurvedic formulations

Ayurvedic medicines containing greater cardamom:
Kalyanaka kashaya choorna: This is a formulation in powder form which can be used to prepare decoction to treat anemia, itching, intoxication, schizophrenia and anxiety. This formulationis also indicated in infertility, loss of memory, amenorrhoea and fever.

Varavisaladi kashaya: This is a formulation in decoction form used to treat hysteria, psychosis, epilepsy, purities, delusion, loss of memory, poor digestion, asthma, anemia, poison, diabetes, fever and hypomenorrhoea.

Kalamegasava: This is an ayurvedic medicine in fermented liquid form used to treat chronic fever, anemia, acne, liver, spleen disorder and skin diseases. It also acts as mild laxative.

Sarivadyasava: This is an ayurvedic medicine in fermented liquid form used to treat gout, diabetes, diabetic carbuncles and related skin complications, skin infections and in rheumatism. It is a natural blood detox product.

Kalyanaka Ghrita: This medicine is in ghee base form used for ‘snehakarma’ in panchakarma practice for the treatment of cough, anemia, epilepsy, psychosis, schizophrenia, infertility, inflammatory conditions, fever, lack of memory etc.

Eladi tailam: This is a formulation in oil form for the treatment of treatment for skin diseases like allergic dermatitis, ring worm infection, urticaria, disease of the gums and ears. This formulation is also called as Eladi keram.

Respicare tablet: This is a proprietary ayurvedic medicine used in the treatment of frequent or persistent cold, running nose, nasal block, throat irritation, wheezing and difficulty in breathing.

Alargin tablet: This is a proprietary ayurvedic medicine used in the treatment of skin diseases such as rashes, contact dermatitis, oils, acne vugaris, carbuncles, eczema, respiratory allergies, malfunctioning of liver and urinary system.
Pathrina tablet: This is a proprietary ayurvedic medicine used in the treatment of renal calculi and difficulty in micturition.
Agatsya vyoshadi vataka lehyam: This is a proprietary ayurvedic medicine in confectionary form, used in the treatment of sinusitis, headache, non productive cough and cold.

Research articles

Research articles about Amomum subulatum:
Anti microbial activity:
Antimicrobial activity of petroleum ether, methanol and aqueous extracts from leaves and roots, essential oil and isolated vasicine from A. subulatum were tested against various microorganisms. Antimicrobial activity was done by disc diffusion method. The zone of inhibition observed was compared with that of standard drugs, ciprofloxacin and fluconazole. The results of this study reveal that methanol extract of fruits of A. subulatum shows remarkable antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli whereas in case of other microorganisms used it was found inferior to the standard drug used. Methanol extract of rind showed good antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus.

Anti- inflammatory activity: The present study assessed anti-inflammatory activity of the fruits extracts (methanolic and aqueous) of Brihat ela at a dose of 250 mg/kg and 500 mg/kg against carrageenan induced paw edema in rats. Both the extracts were able to show a dose dependent anti-inflammatory activity with compared to ibuprofen as a standard.

Anti- oxidant property: In the present study the ethanolic and aqueous extracts of leaves of Amomum subulatum is evaluated for antioxidant activity by the 1,1Diphenyl -2-picrylhydrazyle (DPPH) free radical scavenging activity, :-carotene bleaching assay and total phenolic contents methods. The ethanolic extract showed significant antioxidant activity. The IC50 of ethanolic extract, total phenolic content, and mean antioxidant activity are 8.25±2.0 μg/ml, 11.04±0.2, 41.2±1.5% respectively and that of ascorbic acid was 2.0±0.14 μg/ml whereas BHA was found to be 50.3±0.6. The study showed that the ethanolic extract consumption could exert beneficial effects due to its antioxidant activity.

Author: Dr.B.K.Prashanth M.D (Ayu), Ph.D
E mail: [email protected]

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