Ela (Elettaria cardamomum)

Exploring the Medicinal Marvel: Ela – A Botanical Treasure

Basonym of Drug

The botanical gem Ela, known for its myriad healing properties, bears the scientific name Elettaria cardamomum. This name serves as an entryway into the captivating realm of both botanical science and traditional medicine.

Main Sanskrit Synonyms

In the venerable texts of Ayurveda, Ela shines under the spotlight with an array of Sanskrit synonyms that reflect its unique qualities and therapeutic potential. Among the primary Sanskrit synonyms for Ela are:

  1. Ela:

    • “Ela” simply refers to the botanical name “cardamom,” signifying the essence and identity of the plant itself.
    • This synonym emphasizes the primary identity of the plant and its significance as a widely recognized and utilized spice.
  2. Sukshma Ela:

    • “Sukshma” translates to “small” or “minute,” while “Ela” refers to cardamom.
    • “Sukshma Ela” underscores the tiny size of the cardamom seeds, which are highly prized for their aromatic and medicinal properties.
  3. Truti Ela:

    • “Truti” refers to a unit of measurement, often associated with a very small or minute quantity.
    • “Truti Ela” vividly describes the minuscule size of cardamom seeds, highlighting their potency despite their small stature.
  4. Utpala Ela:

    • “Utpala” translates to “blue lotus,” while “Ela” signifies cardamom.
    • “Utpala Ela” draws a poetic analogy between the shape of cardamom pods and the petals of a blue lotus, enhancing its aesthetic appeal.
  5. Mahaila:

    • “Maha” means “great” or “large,” while “Ela” stands for cardamom.
    • “Mahaila” emphasizes the significance and greatness attributed to cardamom due to its multifaceted benefits.
  6. Vaktraphala:

    • “Vaktra” means “face” or “mouth,” and “Phala” signifies “fruit” or “seed.”
    • “Vaktraphala” metaphorically likens cardamom pods to the face of nature, hinting at its pleasing appearance and aromatic quality.
  7. Lavana Priya:

    • “Lavana” translates to “salty” or “savoring of salt,” while “Priya” means “beloved” or “favored.”
    • “Lavana Priya” reflects cardamom’s characteristic flavor profile, often described as a delightful blend of sweet and slightly salty notes.

Regional Name (Vernacular names)

Ela’s widespread recognition and versatile applications have led to its proliferation under diverse vernacular names across cultures and regions. Among the regional names for Ela are:

  • Hindi: Elaichi
  • Bengali: Elachi
  • Marathi: Velachi
  • Tamil: Elakkai
  • Telugu: Elakulu
  • Kannada: Elakki
  • Gujarati: Elaichi
  • Malayalam: Elam
  • Urdu: Elaichi

Classification of Dravya

Ela’s classification unfolds as follows:

  • Kingdom: Plantae 
  • Sub-Kingdom: Phanerogamia 
  • Division (Phylum): Angiosperms 
  • Class: Monocotyledons 
  • Order: Scitamineae 
  • Family: Zingiberaceae 
  • Genus: Elettaria 
  • Species: Cardamomum

    Classification of Dravya (Gana) as described in Charak and Sushrut

Charak : Swasahara, Angamarda Prashman, Shiro virechanopag, Katuka Skandh

Sushrut : Eladi 

Vagbhat : Eladi, Trijatak, Chaturjatak

External Morphology

Ela, a botanical masterpiece, presents itself as a captivating perennial plant. It boasts elegant, lance-shaped leaves and inflorescences that lead to its prized greenish-white flowers. The real treasure, however, lies within the spindle-shaped capsules that hold the aromatic seeds, each encapsulating the essence of its therapeutic potency.

Useful Parts

The seeds, often referred to as “cardamom pods,” stand as the invaluable repository of Ela’s medicinal properties. These pods house the tiny, aromatic seeds that are the heart of Ela’s therapeutic prowess.

Important Phytoconstituents

Ela’s enchanting and potent qualities are owed to an intricate blend of bioactive compounds. Some noteworthy phytoconstituents found in Ela include:

  1. Essential Oils: Ela is rich in essential oils, primarily composed of compounds such as terpinyl acetate, eucalyptol, limonene, and cineol. These oils are responsible for Ela’s distinctive aroma and flavor.

  2. Terpenes: Ela contains various terpenes, which contribute to its aromatic and medicinal properties.

  3. Flavonoids: These potent antioxidants are present in Ela and contribute to its potential health benefits.

  4. Phenolic Compounds: Ela contains phenolic compounds known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

  5. Alkaloids: Certain alkaloids found in Ela may contribute to its therapeutic effects.

  6. Minerals: Ela contains minerals such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which play essential roles in overall health.

Rasa Panchaka:

Rasa (Predominant Taste): Ela carries the “Madhura” (sweet), “Katu” (Pungent,)which bestows a delightful and pleasing flavor profile.

Guna: Ela possesses the qualities of “Laghu” (lightness) and “Ruksha” (dry), contributing to its ease of digestion and potent attributes.

Veerya: Ela exhibits “Sheeta” or cooling potency, which imparts calming effects to the body.

Vipaka: Ela undergoes “Katu” (Pungent) Vipaka, indicating its post-digestive effect that reinforces its pungent taste.

Prabhava: Ela’s special influence lies in its ability to soothe and balance the digestive system, making it stand out among other spices.

Action on Dosha, Dhatu, and Mala:

Dosha: Ela plays a harmonizing role, particularly in balancing “Vata” and “Kapha” doshas due to its Light and drying properties.

Dhatu: Ela’s effects extend to multiple dhatus (tissues), particularly benefiting “Rasa” dhatu (plasma), “Rakta” dhatu (blood), and “Agni” (digestive fire).

Mala: Ela supports the proper elimination of “Mala” or waste products, promoting healthy digestion and regular bowel movements.

Prayogarha Vyadhi (Therapeutic Indications):

Ela, with its multifaceted properties, serves as a versatile remedy in Ayurvedic medicine, addressing various health concerns. Its therapeutic indications encompass different bodily systems and imbalances. Here’s an elaboration of its uses:

  1. Digestive Disorders: Ela’s aromatic and carminative qualities make it a valuable ally in managing digestive issues. It aids in relieving indigestion, bloating, and flatulence. Ela stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes and promotes healthy gut function, assisting in better nutrient absorption.

  2. Respiratory Health: Ela’s warming nature makes it beneficial in respiratory conditions. It is used to alleviate cough, congestion, and bronchitis. Its ability to soothe irritation and promote expectoration helps in respiratory comfort.

  3. Oral Health: Ela’s antimicrobial properties contribute to maintaining oral hygiene. It helps combat bad breath, gum infections, and oral infections. Chewing Ela seeds can refresh the breath and promote gum health.

  4. Cardiovascular Support: Ela aids in maintaining cardiovascular health by improving blood circulation and managing blood pressure. Its potential to enhance blood flow contributes to heart wellness.

  5. Metabolic Balance: Ela is known to assist in managing blood sugar levels, making it beneficial for individuals with diabetes. Its effects on carbohydrate metabolism contribute to better glycemic control.

  6. Nervous System Relaxation: Ela’s calming effects on the nervous system help in reducing stress, anxiety, and nervous tension. It has a mild sedative effect that promotes relaxation and mental tranquility.

  7. Anti-inflammatory Action: Ela’s anti-inflammatory properties contribute to reducing inflammation and pain in various conditions. It can be used to manage mild joint discomfort and inflammatory conditions.

  8. Diuretic Effect: Ela’s diuretic nature promotes healthy urine production and assists in flushing out toxins from the body. It aids in maintaining kidney function and urinary health.

  9. Reproductive Health: Ela is used to support reproductive health, particularly in women. It can help manage menstrual discomfort and support a healthy menstrual cycle.

  10. Gastrointestinal Health: Ela’s digestive benefits extend to managing gastrointestinal issues like nausea and vomiting. It is often used to alleviate morning sickness during pregnancy.

  11. Aphrodisiac Properties: Ela is renowned for its aphrodisiac qualities, promoting vitality and enhancing sexual well-being.

  12. Anti-microbial Action: Ela’s natural antimicrobial properties make it useful in managing minor infections and promoting overall immune health.

  13. Stomachic and Appetite Enhancement: Ela’s ability to stimulate appetite and enhance digestion makes it beneficial for individuals with poor appetite or weak digestion.

Amayikaprayoga and Matra (Therapeutic Administration and Dose):

Amayikaprayoga refers to immediate or short-term therapeutic uses of Ela, often for immediate relief or temporary benefits. Matra, on the other hand, pertains to the dosage and administration of Ela for its therapeutic effects. Here’s an elaboration of these aspects:

Amayikaprayoga (Immediate Use):

  1. Indigestion Relief: Chew on a few whole Ela seeds or a small pinch of powdered Ela after a heavy meal to alleviate indigestion, bloating, and discomfort. This provides immediate relief by stimulating digestive enzymes and enhancing digestion.

  2. Freshening Breath: Chewing Ela seeds can instantly freshen the breath and alleviate bad breath. It’s a common practice to consume Ela seeds after consuming pungent or strong-smelling foods.

  3. Nausea and Vomiting: In case of mild nausea or vomiting, sipping on a mild Ela tea (prepared by steeping crushed Ela seeds in hot water) can help soothe the stomach and reduce discomfort.

Matra (Therapeutic Dosage and Administration):

  1. Ela Powder: The standard therapeutic dosage of Ela powder is generally around 1 to 3 grams per day. It can be taken on an empty stomach in the morning or before meals to enhance digestion and support overall well-being.

  2. Ela Tea: Prepare an Ela tea by steeping around half a teaspoon of crushed Ela seeds in a cup of hot water for about 5-10 minutes. This can be consumed 1-2 times a day to reap its digestive and calming benefits.

  3. Herbal Formulations: Ela is commonly included in various Ayurvedic formulations. Follow the specific dosage instructions provided by an Ayurvedic practitioner when using these formulations.

  4. Topical Application: Ela oil can be used for massage or external application. A few drops of Ela oil can be blended with a carrier oil and applied to the skin to soothe minor irritations or muscle discomfort.

  5. Combination with Other Herbs: Ela can be combined with other herbs like ginger or fennel for enhanced digestive benefits. The dosage and combination will vary based on the specific purpose and constitution.

Vishishta Yoga (Names of Important Formulations):

Ela is a cherished ingredient in various Ayurvedic formulations, including:

  1. Eladi Churna: This powdered formulation, containing Ela, is used to support digestive health, alleviate indigestion, and enhance appetite.

  2. Lavangadi Vati: Incorporating Ela and Clove (Lavanga), this tablet formulation is employed to manage dental issues, toothache, and oral infections.

  3. Talisadi Churna: Ela is a component of this churna, which is beneficial in managing respiratory disorders like cough and bronchitis.

  4. Sukumara Ghrita: This medicated ghee formulation includes Ela and is employed to promote reproductive health and address menstrual discomfort.

  5. Jatiphaladi Churna: Ela is included in this churna, used to address digestive issues, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort.

  6. Sitopaladi Churna: Ela is a key ingredient in this churna, which is employed to manage respiratory issues, cough, and throat irritation.

  7. Eladi Gutika: Ela is included in these tablets, which are used to manage oral health issues, bad breath, and mouth ulcers.

Vishakta Lakshan (Adverse Effects):

Ela, when used in culinary amounts, is generally safe and well-tolerated. However, excessive use may lead to a few mild adverse effects:

  1. Heartburn: Overconsumption of Ela may cause heartburn or acid reflux in some individuals.

Chikitsopachara (Remedial Measures):

If adverse effects are observed, the following remedial measures can be considered:

  1. Moderation: Reduce or avoid excessive consumption of Ela to alleviate any discomfort.

  2. Consultation: Seek guidance from an Ayurvedic practitioner or healthcare professional to address any adverse reactions.

Shodhana (Purification Method):

Ela does not typically require shodhana (purification) before use, as it is commonly used in culinary amounts. However, if used in larger therapeutic doses, it may benefit from mild roasting or other purification methods to enhance its digestibility.

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Note: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult with a qualified healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment of any other medical condition.

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