Cardamom Allergy Test
Latin name: Elettaria cardamomum (Amomum cardamomum)
Common names: Cardamom, Cardemon, Cardamum, True Cardamom
Cardamom is a spice which may result in allergy symptoms in sensitised individuals.
NB: Cardamom should not be confused with Black Cardamom (or Nepal Cardamom, or Greater Indian Cardamom), Amomum subulatum Roxb., and similar substitutes.
Cardamom Allergy Test: Allergen Exposure
Cardamom comes from a perennial bush belonging to the same family as ginger, and is one of the world’s oldest known spices, having been recorded by the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians.
It is native to southern India, but now also grows in Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Indochina and Tanzania. Cardamom is one of the world’s most expensive spices by weight, surpassed only by vanilla and saffron. Guatemala is the largest producer of the spice, followed by India.
The small, dark, sticky seed grow in pods between 5 and 20mm long. The pods are sold whole or split, and the seeds loose or ground.
Cardamom is used extensively in Arab cuisine as a flavouring in sweets, baked goods and coffee, as well as liqueurs. It is also often used in baking in the Nordic countries, in particular in Sweden, Norway, and Finland.
It is a common component of spice mixes, such as Indian and Nepali masalas and Thai curry pastes. Individual seeds are sometimes chewed and used in much the same way as chewing gum.
Traditionally it was used as a medicinal treatment for digestive problems, and also prized as an aphrodisiac. It is still used in Western medicine as a flavouring or additive for medicines treating indigestion and flatulence.
Cardamom Allergy Test: Allergen Description
No allergens present in cardamon have been characterised to date.
Cardamom Allergy Test: Potential Cross-Reactivity
Extensive cross-reactivity between the different individual species of the Zingiberaceae family (including ginger, galangal and turmeric) could be expected, but has not been documented to date.
Cardamom Allergy Test: Clinical Experience
Anecdotal evidence suggests that cardamom may induce symptoms of food allergy in sensitised individuals; however, few studies have been reported to date. It is possible that the allergy occurs more frequently than has been reported.
Although contact and systemic contact-type dermatitis reactions to spices such as cardamom may be relatively rare, there is a possibility that they may also often be overlooked.
In one reported case, a 22-year-old woman reported urticaria, dyspnoea and bronchial asthma-like attacks after eating curried rice, attributed to an immediate-type allergy caused by spice allergens contained in curry spice. Of the individual spices, skin-prick tests were positive to cumin, fennel, dill, fenugreek, cayenne, ginger, cardamom, garlic, garam masala, mustard seed and coconut milk.
In another case, anaphylaxis to curry powder was reported in a 26-year-old nurse who developed severe bronchospasm. Initial symptoms were generalised itching, diarrhoea and stridor, which were reproduced 20 minutes later following an oral challenge of curry and rice. The causative allergens were narrowed down to cardamom and fenugreek.
Atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis have been described in a confectioner with chronic hand dermatitis. A patch test to cardamom was positive.
In a study of workers in a Swedish spice factory, irritant patch test reactions were recorded from powder of cardamom.