This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Cardamom: a dried fruit or pod, brought from the East Indies; divided internally into three cells, in each of which are contained two rows of triangular seeds, of a brownish colour on the outside and white within.
1. Cardamomum minus Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Cardamomum simpliciter in officinis dictum C. B. Cardamom, lesser cardamom: with short triangular husks, scarce half an inch in length; the produce of a plant with reed-like stalks, de-scribed in the Hortus malabaricus under the name of Elettari; the Amomum Cardamomum of Lin-naeus.
These seeds, freed from the hulks, are an elegant and useful aromatic, of a grateful smell and flavour, very warm, yet not fiery, or sub-ject, like the spices of the pepper kind, to produce immoderate heat. The husks should be separated only at the time of use; for the seeds soon lose a part of their flavour in being kept without this defence.
Their virtue is extracted, not only by rectified spirit, but almost completely by water also; with this difference, that the watery infusion is cloudy or turbid, the spirituous clear and trans-parent: the colour of both is a pale yellow. Scarcely any of the aromatic seeds give out so much of their warmth to watery menstrua, or abound so much with gummy matter, which appears to be the principle by which the aromatic part is made dissoluble in water: the infusion is so mucilaginous, even in a dilute state, as hardly to pass through a filter.
In distillation with water, a considerable quantity of essential oil separates from the watery fluid, of a pale yellowish colour, in smell exactly resembling the cardamoms, and of a very pungent taste: the remaining decoction is disagreeably bitterish and mucilaginous, retaining nothing of the pungency or warmth, any more than of the peculiar flavour of the spice. On infpiffating the tincture made in rectified spirit, a part of the flavour of the cardamoms arises with the spirit, but greatest part remains behind concentrated in the extract; which smells moderately of the seeds, and has a pungent aromatic taste, very durable in the mouth, and rather more grateful than that of the seeds in substance.
Tinctures of this spice both in rectified and proof spirit are more agreeable than the watery infusions; and proof spirit, impregnated with its flavour by distillation, more agreeable than the simple distilled water. A simple tincture of six ounces of the seeds, in a quart†or two pints and a half ‡of proof spirit; and a compound tincture, made of cardamoms, caraway seeds, cinnamon, cochineal, and raisins, infused in proof spirit; are kept in the shops, and occasionally made use of as pleasant warm cordials and for flavouring other medicines. I have not observed any of the aromatics to an-swer, in general, so well as the tincture of this spice, for rendering mineral waters and other saline liquors acceptable to the stomach.
2. Cardamomum medium Pharm. Paris. Cardamomum majus officinarum C. B. Greater cardamom: with thicker and tougher husks, an inch or more in length; the produce of a plant of the same kind with the preceding, but larger. There is some confusion in regard to the name, that of cardamomum majus being applied among us to this species, and in France to the grana paradisi of which hereafter.
The seeds of the greater cardamom are allowed by the faculty of Paris to be used indifferently with those of the lesser: the large kind, however, is much weaker than the other, both in smell and taste, and hence has in this country been long disregarded, and is now become a stranger to the shops. Both sorts are nearly of the same nature, the difference being chiefly in degree.
Tinct. car-damomi † Ph. Lond. ‡ Ph. Ed.
Tinct. cardamom. comp. olim Tinct. sto-machic. Ph. Lond.