Ethnopharmacological relevance: Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is traditionally used in various gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and neuronal disorders.
Aim of the study: To rationalize cardamom use in constipation, colic, diarrhea, hypertension and as diuretic.
Materials and methods: Cardamom crude extract (Ec.Cr) was studied using in vitro and in vivo techniques.
Results: Ec.Cr caused atropine-sensitive stimulatory effect in isolated guinea-pig ileum at 3-10mg/ml. In rabbit jejunum preparations, Ec.Cr relaxed spontaneous and K+ (80 mM)-induced contractions as well as shifted Ca++ curves to right, like verapamil. Ec.Cr (3-100mg/kg) induced fall in the arterial blood pressure (BP) of anaesthetized rats, partially blocked in atropinized animals. In endothelium-intact rat aorta, Ec.Cr relaxed phenylephrine (1 microM)-induced contractions, partially antagonized by atropine and also inhibited K+ (80 mM) contractions. In guinea-pig atria, Ec.Cr exhibited a cardio-depressant effect. Ec.Cr (1-10mg/kg) produced diuresis in rats, accompanied by a saluretic effect. It enhanced pentobarbital-induced sleeping time in mice. Bio-assay directed fractionation revealed the separation of spasmogenic and spasmolytic components in the aqueous and organic fractions respectively.
Conclusion: These results indicate that cardamom exhibits gut excitatory and inhibitory effects mediated through cholinergic and Ca++ antagonist mechanisms respectively and lowers BP via combination of both pathways. The diuretic and sedative effects may offer added value in its use in hypertension and epilepsy.