English: Amomum fruit skins

Chinese: 砂仁壳

Parts used: The fruit skin

TCM category: Aromatic herbs that transform Dampness

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Organ affinity: Spleen Stomach Kidney

Scientific name: Amomum villosum

Other names: Black Cardamom, Villous amomum

Use of Sha Ren Ke (amomum fruit skins) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Removes impurities and collect the dry fruit skins

Dosage: 3-6g

Main actions according to TCM*: Warms the Spleen and transforms Dampness. Promotes the movement of Qi for Damp and Stagnant conditions of the Stomach and Spleen. Settles a restless fetus and stops morning sickness. Prevents cloying and Stagnation sometimes caused by tonifying herbs.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Sha Ren Ke may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Nausea Abdominal pain Abdominal distention Diarrhea Loss of appetite Threatened abortion Restless fetus Morning sickness

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with Yin Deficiency when there are Heat signs. Amomum fruit skin's functions are similar to Amomum fruit but less warm and less powerful.

Common TCM formulas in which Sha Ren Ke is used*

Qi Ge San

Source date: 1732 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Regulates Qi and removes Stagnation. Moistens Dryness. Transforms Phlegm.

Conditions targeted*: EsophagitisEsophageal diverticulum and others

Sha Ren Ke is a deputy ingredient in Qi Ge San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Qi Ge San, Sha Ren Ke invigorates Qi of the Middle Burner and harmonizes the Stomach to stop vomiting and retching. 

Read more about Qi Ge San

Key TCM concepts behind Sha Ren Ke's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Sha Ren Ke belongs to the 'Aromatic herbs that transform Dampness' category. This category of herbs resolves a TCM condition called 'Cold Damp Stagnation', especially as it affects the Stomach and Spleen. In modern medicine this often translates into symptoms such as distended chest and abdomen, lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting

As suggested by its category Sha Ren Ke is Warm in nature. This means that Sha Ren Ke tends to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Cold in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess (because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition Sha Ren Ke can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Sha Ren Ke also tastes Pungent. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Pungent ingredients like Sha Ren Ke tends to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Sha Ren Ke is thought to target the Spleen, the Stomach and the Kidney. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. The Stomach on the other hand is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine. The Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body.