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Cardamom Chic

Cathy Christensen March 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
cardamom seeds in a wooden spoon

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Cardamom is one of the fragrant ingredients that helps give chai tea and curry their unique, warm flavors in addition to being a favorite ingredient of a variety of cultures for centuries.

Elletaria cardamomum, cardamom’s scientific name, is a member of the ginger family and originated in India.1 In fact, its cultivation is still limited to few countries, including India, Sri Lanka and Guatemala. Known as the queen of spices, cardamom features a pleasant aroma and slightly pungent taste, with its seeds leaving a warm feeling in the mouth.2

The ingredient is mentioned in Vedic texts and is common in ayurvedic medicines.1

In the kitchen

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Quick Facts: Cardamom

• In the past, cardamom was considered to have aphrodisiac qualities and was used to make love potions.1

The Arabian Nights, a collection of Middle Eastern stories and folk tales, makes frequent reference to cardamom.1

• Cardamom is also known as cardamon, Grains of Paradise, ela and elachi.1

• Cardamom was an article of trade from India westward, and was mentioned by the ancient Greek philosopher Theophrastus in the fourth century B.C.2

• Whole pounded cardamom boiled with five mint leaves in one cup of water is useful in relieving hiccups.2

Recipe: Omega Sensation Smoothie

From Executive Chef Chad Luethje of Miraval, Tucson, Arizona

Omega Sensation Smoothie

Makes 1 serving, 240 calories, 3 grams of fat


1 teaspoon flaxseed

1 teaspoon hemp seed oil

3⁄4 cup apple juice

1⁄2 banana, broken up

1 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon cinnamon

12 ounces of ice


1. Combine all ingredients in blender, puree and enjoy.

Treatment How-to: The Hammam Ritual

From Spa Luce at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa, Hollywood, California

The Hammam Ritual is a sensual experience of heat, steam, massage, detoxification, rich scent and relaxation based on the skin care practices of a hammam bath house.

Treatment duration: 80 minutes

Treatment cost: $180

Products needed:

Moroccan mint tea silt purifier

Lemon coffee blossom olive stone scrub

Jasmine rose rhassoul clay polish

Orange quince steam room mist

Cardamom amber oil

Tangerine fig butter cream

Neroli cypress high atlas bath soak

Supplies needed:

1 flat sheet

1 plastic sheet

3 large bath sheets or large towels

7 washcloths (optional)

1 dry washcloth

2 rubber product bowls

1 small bowl

1 table warmer

1 foil sheet (optional)

Before treatment: Dress table with one flat sheet covered by a plastic sheet and one large bath sheet or towel placed on top of that for the client to lie on, as well as one bath sheet to cover the client. Place two tablespoons of Moroccan mint tea silt purifier in a small bowl, and place two tablespoons of lemon coffee blossom olive stone scrub in rubber bowl. Mix three tablespoons of rose jasmine rhassoul clay and two tablespoons of warm water into a soft paste and heat in a hot cabby. Place one ounce of cardamom amber oil in a hot cabby to warm.

Step 1: Greet the client and ask her to fill out a health questionnaire. Discuss any issues that may arise from this information, check for ingredient allergies and remember that this service should not be performed on clients who are pregnant or nursing.

Step 2: Lead the client to a shower area and instruct to shower using Moroccan mint tea silt purifier under steaming water, lathering the whole body with it using warm, wet hands. If you do not have shower facilities, soak six washcloths in hot water with Moroccan mint tea silt purifier, wring out so they are moist, and place in hot cabby.

Step 3: Bring client into the treatment room and ask her to lie on the table face up on top of one large bath sheet or towel. Cover the client with another bath sheet or towel, and ask if there are any particularly sensitive or problem areas of the body.

Step 4: Place a warm, dry washcloth infused with orange quince steam room mist onto the forehead and gently press it into the temples.

Step 5: Beginning at client’s feet and legs, undrape one leg at a time and apply lemon coffee blossom olive stone scrub in vigorous circular strokes toward the heart. Work the scrub onto the entire leg by lifting the limbs as you go. This is an active treatment, so be as physical as you and the client agree upon.

Step 6: Move up to the torso and upper body. Apply scrub more gently to abdomen and chest, using deeper strokes to the tops and undersides of arms.

Step 7: Using a dry washcloth and starting at the feet in circular sweeps toward the heart, begin to dust grains off of the skin.

Step 8: Instruct and assist the client to turn onto one side, and make her comfortable in a side-lying position. Expose the back, and apply the scrub to the back using vigorous strokes, followed by the dry brushing gommage technique described in Step 7. The client should remain in the side-lying position as the towel covering is replaced with a fresh bath sheet. After she lies back down, fully cover the client.

Step 9: Next, apply the rose jasmine rhassoul clay quickly and with a medium pressure touch. Massage with the clay. Cover the client’s back and apply the clay to the backs of the legs. Ask the client to lie on her back and apply the clay to the front of the body, as well. As the rhassoul clay dries and begins to pull impurities from the body, there is a very brief cooling sensation. Depending on the client, a foil covering may or may not be necessary to maintain comfort. Once the clay dries, the cooling subsides.

Step 10: After the clay has dried, if a shower is available in the treatment room, turn it on and instruct the client to thoroughly rinse. If there is no shower available, use warm, wet washcloths to remove clay. Next, redrape the table to prepare for mist and massage.

Step 11: Uncover the client’s legs and delicately mist them with the orange quince steam room mist. Redrape the legs and uncover the arms and chest. Apply the mist. Redrape and compress through towel for comfort.

Step 12: Remove cardamom amber oil from the cabby and undrape the top of the chest. Sit in a comfortable position and provide a generous neck, face and scalp massage using the oil. Massage the arms, abdomen and legs.

Step 13: Apply tangerine fig butter cream all over the body after the massage.

Step 14: Advise the client that the treatment has concluded, ask her to dress, provide her with water and ask her to rest after the treatment.

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