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Cardamon fruits

Chinese: 白豆蔻

Pinyin: Bái Dòu Kòu

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 cardamon fruits (Bai Dou Kou) 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 cardamon fruits 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 cardamon fruits (Bai Dou Kou) are 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

Key TCM concepts behind cardamon fruits (Bai Dou Kou)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), cardamon fruits are plants that belong 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 cardamon fruits are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that cardamon fruits tend 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 cardamon fruits can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Cardamon fruits also taste 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 cardamon fruits tend 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 cardamon fruits are 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 cardamon fruits (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 cardamon fruits (Bai Dou Kou) as food

Cardamon fruits are also eaten as food.