I had contemplated telling this story...the recent comments spurred me to do it now.
Christi was the first to sample the brew. She thought it tasted odd, but just assumed someone had bought in a new, exotic coffee and sipped, perhaps, half a cup. Her description of what happened:
"Initially, my left hand began itching and swelling, then my arm, neck, back, and chest developed some blotchy areas and I ended up with a few hives, including on my left cheek. I took two Benadryl within about 30 minutes of ingestion and had taken a prescription antihistamine prior to work (unrelated) which probably helped immensely. The first twelve hours was mainly an itchy, splotchy, hive type event. Later, I developed a burn on the corner of my lip and in the corner of my mouth and irritated bumps down the left side of my tongue and into my throat. This actually occurred into the second day and I also continued itching. By Friday, the itching had subsided mostly except sporadically, and although fatigued, I was able to return to work. Note that most all of my reaction was on my left hand side, which is also where I was most sensitized after the Holy Basil explosion. Recovery is a process if you are re-exposed to something to which you are sensitized. You literally can note all of the varied physical reactions if you are in tune with your body. I still do not feel “quite myself,” as I am a little light-headed and dizzy and more easily fatigued but that may be due to all of the antihistamines.
If I had felt asthmatic or felt my throat closing, I immediately would’ve had someone rush me to the ER. I did have a friend and my mother keeping close watch over me for at least 12 hours in case of any other strange developments."
The above was written a week after imbibing the Cardamom flavored coffee.
The staff member responsible was appalled. "But I put a LOT of cardamom pods in my coffee." She simply had no idea of the relative intensity of an essential oil compared to that of a dried herb or spice.
I later did some online research regarding the yield in essential oil from dried cardamom seeds, not the dried pods, but the tiny seeds within the pods. The average yield is 5 to 6%. Which means that, by WEIGHT:
1000 grams of dried seeds would yield 50 grams of essential oil, which, based on Cardamom's specific gravity, would be 54.38 mls of essential oil. Which, assuming 20 drops per ml, would be 1087 drops of EO.
Based on those figures, one drop of Cardamom Essential oil would equal 20 grams (approximately 0.7 oz) of dried seeds.
So 1 drop of Cardamon Seed Oil is the equivalent of 20 grams of cardamom seeds. One measuring tablespoon of ground seeds weighs 5.8 grams.
One drop of Cardamom Essential Oil would then equal 3.4 measuring tablespoons of ground cardamom seeds. An AWFUL lot of seasoning.
Now, Cardamom Oil is GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) for food flavoring. But in parts per million. NOT in the quantity that injured Christi.
Granted, Christi is not the "typical" individual to be exposed to this overdose of Cardamom oil. As a result of the explosion of a gallon of Holy Basil oil in our workroom some years ago she became sensitized to the major components of Holy Basil. We have known she is sensitized to Eugenol (the major component and characteristic aroma of Clove oil). What we didn't realize is that she is evidently also sensitized to Methyl Eugenol; a *minor* component of Cardamom seed oil. And a few swallows of coffee, very heavily spiked with Cardamon Oil, was enough to trigger a severe and ongoing allergic reaction.
Of course the staff member who "flavored" the coffee was unaware of the comparative intensity of the oil and the spice pods. And perhaps the other members of the staff could have drunk the coffee with no ill effects. We won't know, since no one else tried it.
PLEASE, when considering internal use of these powerful healing substances, be aware of their intensity. A drop of essential oil is NOT the equivalent of a 'normal serving' of spice, or a cup of herb tea, etc. Look at the proportions above and consider the equivalent of the botanical before you contemplate taking, or suggesting, internal use of the oils.