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cao guo   草果﹔

dou kou     豆蔻 (草豆蔻)

By: Joe Hing Kwok Chu  

按此看中英文版。 Click here to see English and Chinese edition.

Click here to see picture of herb.   

Pharmaceutical name:


Fructus Amomi Tsao-ko

Botanical name:

Amomum tsao-ko Crevost et Lem. (cao guo 草果)

Amomum cardamomum Linn.(bai dou kou白豆蔻);[1]

A. costatum, Roxb.(dou kou 豆蔻)[1]

A. kravanh Pierre ex Gagnep ;

A. compacturn Soland et Maton (Indonesian bai dou kou)﹔


Japanese Pronunciation:


Korean Pronunciation:


Pron. in Cantonese:

cou2  gwo2;  dau6 kau3

Other Names:

cao dou kou 草豆叩、cao kou ren草蔻仁、草叩仁、cao kou 草蔻。

Common Name:



Yunan, Guizhou, Guangdong, Guangxi, Taiwan provinces of China and Vietnam, India,.


Properties (characteristics):


acrid, warm, aromic



spleen, stomach


Actions & Indications:



stomach pain, flatulence, belching, indigestion due to stomach qi stagnation , vomiting, malarial disorders, drunkenness from alcohol consumption.


Samples of Combinations:
  1.  with zhi mu for malaria

  2.  with chang shan to improve inhibiting malaria

  3.  with sha ren improves digestive function and spleen yang and rid of dampness.

  4.  with hou po improves digestion and rid of dampness.

  5.  with bai dou kou improves getting rid of dampness, warms stomach and getting rid of cold, relieves pain, and stops vomiting.


1.5 to 6 g

Medical Functions:

Medical Functions of cao guo:

1. a-pinene and β-pinene expells phlegm and inhibits cough.

2. 1,8-Cineole can have calming, pain relieving and asthma inhibiting effects

3.  β-pinenean has  strong anttibiotic and anti-inflammation effects; geraniol has strong antibiotic and antifungal effects

4. small amount of cao guo can stimulate intestine but large amount inhibits it. when taken orally geraniol inhibited the activities of the digestive tract of rats. Small amount mildly promotes urination.

5. rids of round worms of guinea pigs.

Chemical Ingredients:

Essential oil: fruit contains 1.6%; seeds contains 2.2%; skin contains0.38%. The essential oil contains 33.94%of 1,8-cineole, 11.78% of trans-2-undecenal. Also contains α--pinene, β-pinene, camphor, Linalool, p-cymene,  nonanal, decanal, a--terpineol, neral-a,-b, geraniol, nerolidol and geranial.

Modern Research:



Do not use in cases of qixu, Blood deficient  qixu (qi deficiency) and fire is high in lung and stomach with no cold dampness . (more to be uploaded).



Roasting the herb cut down the side effects.

Half of the laboratory rat fed geraniol died. The lethal dosage is 4.9g/kg. For rabbits, the lethal injection dosage was 50mg/kg.

Cao guo which are processed by smoking can be carcinogens when taken for a long period.

 [1]  Botanical Dictionary, by Shang Wu Publishing Co. 1918 。 商務出版植物大詞典

  Note: rou dou kou is another herb. It belongs to Myristicaceae.

  See sorting Amomum

  Stomach qi stagnation: usually because of pixu (spleen deficiency) which causes weak digestion.


A manuscript... writing, translating and proofreading  in progress


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Last update: April 7, 2012; 5:22 p.m. LAH