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Herb Gallery

Bai Dou Kou (Amomi Fructus rotundus)

  • Botanical name: Amomi Fructus rotundus
  • Common name: Round Cardamon
  • Literal name translation: White cardamon
  • Family: Zingiberaceae
  • Part used in Chinese medicine: fruit

Major Chinese medicine actions:
Promotes movement of qi, transforms dampness, strengthens Stomach, warms middle and descends rebellious qi

Chinese Medicine

Bai Dou Kou is classified as an aromatic herb that transforms dampness.  Affecting the middle burner these symptoms include fullness and stuffiness in the chest and epigastrum, possibly diarrhea and lack of appetite, and usually presents with a thick tongue coating – all indicative of poor Sp/St digestive function.  By warming and causing rebellious qi to descend, it is often used for treating nausea and vomiting.  The herb also treats the stagnation of phlegm dampness affecting the Lungs by helping to warm and disseminate the Lung qi.

Growing and Propagation

Bai Dou Kou, or round cardamom is an herb grown primarily in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Sumatra, and many provinces in China, and so requires the kind of tropical environments that these countries offer.  The plant has many similarities to the ginger plant, but has a stronger tuber and larger trunk.  the root structure is shallow and the plant grows well in sandy loam and fertile, well drained soil, preferring a shaded, moist environment.

Harvesting and Preparation

The cardamom fruit is harvested in autumn when they are yellow white in color, and before they dry on the plant in the sun.  The herb is very aromatic and the best quality fruits are large, white to light yellow (not brown), with a strong fragrance.  For use in medicine the pods are used in their unprepared form and when prepared for storage they are dried in the sun.

When the dried form is used in decoction, the fruit husks are pounded and crushed in order to release the seed kernels, then added at the last few minutes of the boiling process before drinking.  In this way the aromatic oils are preserved.


Both Bai Dou Kou and Sha Ren are aromatic and transform dampness.  Bai Dou Kou is lighter and milder, therefore not as drying or warming as Sha Ren.  Sha Ren enters the Spleen and Stomach only, while Bai Dou Kou also enters the Lung.  Bai Dou Kou is the better choice for phlegm dampness obstructing the Lungs with a stifling sensation in the chest and only mild middle burner stagnation, or when the excessive drying nature of Sha Ren is undesirable.