English: Cardamon fruits

Chinese: 白豆蔻

Parts used: Fruits

TCM category: Aromatic herbs that transform Dampness

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Organ affinity: Spleen Stomach Lung

Scientific name: Amomum kravanh

Use of Bai Dou Kou (cardamon fruits) 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: Collect ripe fruits and dry.

Dosage: 2 to 5 g

Main actions according to TCM*: Warms the Spleen and transforms Dampness. Invigorates Qi to remove Stomach and Spleen Qi Stagnation due to Dampness. Encourages appetite. Settles a restless fetus, stops morning sickness and prevents miscarriage. Used with tonifying herbs to prevent cloying and Stagnation.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Bai Dou Kou may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Loss of appetite Chest congestion Nausea Vomiting Chest pain Indigestion Abdominal pain Abdominal distention Miscarriage Restless fetus Diarrhea Morning sickness

Common TCM formulas in which Bai Dou Kou is used*

San Ren Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Damp-Heat. Disseminates the Qi. Facilitates the Qi mechanisms.

Conditions targeted*: TyphoidPyelonephritis and others

Bai Dou Kou is a king ingredient in San Ren Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In San Ren Tang, Bai Dou Kou transforms turbid Dampness and revives the Spleen. It also treats the Upper Burner by spreading Qi in the chest.

Read more about San Ren Tang

Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan

Source date: 1831 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Resolves Dampness and transforms turbidity. Clears Heat and resolves Toxicity .

Conditions targeted*: Acute gastroenteritisEnteric fever and others

Bai Dou Kou is a deputy ingredient in Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan, Bai Dou Kou is fragrant, aromatic, acrid and warming. It transforms Dampness and invigorate Qi

When the Middle Burner is obstructed by the thick, cloying properties of Dampness, aromatic herbs need to be used to eliminate the turbidity and revive the Spleen.

Read more about Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan

Ge Hua Jie Cheng San

Source date: 13th century

Number of ingredients: 13 herbs

Formula key actions: Separates and reduces alcohol-dampness. Warms the Middle. Strengthens the Spleen .

Conditions targeted*: HangoversAlcoholism and others

Bai Dou Kou is a deputy ingredient in Ge Hua Jie Cheng San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Ge Hua Jie Cheng San, Bai Dou Kou warm the Middle Burner, strengthen the Spleen, harmonize the Stomach and invigorate Qi. Thus, the Spleen gains control over the accumulation of Dampness

Read more about Ge Hua Jie Cheng San

Hui Chun Dan

Source date: Late 18th century

Number of ingredients: 19 herbs

Formula key actions: Opens the sensory orifices. Arrests spasms and convulsions. Clears Heat and transforms Phlegm.

Conditions targeted*: Acute encephalitisAcute meningitis and others

Bai Dou Kou is an assistant ingredient in Hui Chun Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Hui Chun Dan, Bai Dou Kou promotes the movement of Qi, reduces focal distention, transforms turbid Dampness, and stops vomiting. 

Read more about Hui Chun Dan

Xiang Sha Yang Wei Wan

Source date: 1587 AD

Number of ingredients: 13 herbs

Formula key actions: Strengthens and harmonizes the Spleen and Stomach. Resolves Dampness.

Conditions targeted*: Poor appetiteLoss of taste and others

In Xiang Sha Yang Wei Wan, Bai Dou Kou circulates Qi in the Middle Burner, as well as remove Dampness. It also warms the Middle and stops pain. 

Read more about Xiang Sha Yang Wei Wan

Key TCM concepts behind Bai Dou Kou's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Bai Dou Kou 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 Bai Dou Kou is Warm in nature. This means that Bai Dou Kou 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 Bai Dou Kou can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Bai Dou Kou 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 Bai Dou Kou 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 Bai Dou Kou is thought to target the Spleen, the Stomach and the Lung. 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. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.

Research on Bai Dou Kou

Cardamon fruits can improve the symptoms of physique emaciation, aversion to cold in the back, weariness and acratia1


1. Chen S, Lv G, Huang M, Su J, Fang H, Mou X. (2011) Effects of three traditional Chinese medicine with pungent-flavor, warm-nature and meridian tropism in lung on lung-yang deficiency rats induced by compound factors. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi 36(11): 1512-5

Use of Bai Dou Kou as food

Bai Dou Kou is also eaten as food.