Ba Dou (Croton Seed, Croton Fruit, or Fructus Crotonis)

What Is Ba Dou

Ba Dou also known as Croton Seed, Croton Fruit, or Fructus Crotonis is the mature fruit of Croton tiglium, which is an evergreen tree belonging to the family Euphorbiaceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (about 100 BC).

Croton tiglium is known as purging croton and is a poisonous medicinal plant. Ayurvedic medicine has also been recorded about it. In Cold Weapon Era, its bark was used as an arrow poison and its seeds were used to poison fish. It is distributed in China, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines. It is also called jamaal gota in India.

This plant likes a warm and humid environment. It often grows in montane sparse forests or limestone shrublands at an altitude of 300-1,500 meters. It is now mostly artificially planted. It can grow better on sandy soil with plenty of sunlight, deep soil, loose, fertile, and well-drained soil.

Croton tiglium

In the autumn of each year, people gather the mature fruits of Croton tiglium, remove their peel and impurities, take out their kernels, air-dry them, or process them, and make them into Ba Dou Shuang (Semen Crotonis Pulveratum).

Ba Dou is rich in fatty oils, including palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, arachidic acid, lauric acid, crotonoleic acid, crotonic acid, crotonyl alcohol, crotonol diesters, and crotonol triesters. In addition, it also contains diterpenoids, lactones, crotonoside, isoguanine, magnoflorine, crotonallin I, crotonallin II, β-sitosterol, and amino acids. The plump and yellow-white Ba Dou is preferred.

According to <Shennong Ben Cao Jing>, the medicinal property of Ba Dou is relatively hot, with violent toxicity and a pungent taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the stomach and large intestine meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Ba Dou is often used to expel accumulated cold and remove water retention, eliminate phlegm and relieve sore throat, treat constipation, abdominal distension with abdominal pain, schistosomiasis ascites, cirrhotic ascites, diphtheria, malnutrition, verrucous nevus, scabies, cholecystitis, gallstones, ulcerative colitis, facial nerve palsy, acute intestinal obstruction, and thrush in children.

There are about 150 kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as San Wu Bei Ji Wan, Bao Chi Wan Ying San, and Tian Tai Wu Yao San.


  • Promoting platelet aggregation and having hemostatic and analgesic effects.
  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting xylene-induced swelling of the mouse ear, and carrageenan-induced edema of the mouse foot.
  • Stimulating the intestines and stomach, promoting bowel movement, and inducing diarrhea.
  • Expelling accumulated cold, treating constipation, abdominal distension with abdominal pain, indigestion caused by obstruction of the colon by cold accumulation.
  • Removing water retention, treating schistosomal ascites, and cirrhotic ascites.
  • Inducing vomiting, promoting sputum salivation, and relieving breathing difficulties and laryngeal obstruction caused by diphtheria or laryngitis.
  • Eliminating congested phlegm, treating chest and diaphragm suffocation, and the cold sweat of limbs caused by the chest congestion of a cold.
  • Corroding skin abscesses and ulcers, treating verrucous nevus, scabies, and malignant sores.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of human gastric gland SGC-901 cells and human cervical cancer Hela cells, and inducing apoptosis of SMMC-7721 cells and human ovarian cancer cells HO-8910 cells.
  • Inhibit Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhimurium, Influenza bacillus, Diphtheria bacillus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
  • Subcutaneous injection of croton oil can reduce mortality and prolonged the survival of mice infected with epidemic encephalitis virus.
  • Its alcohol extract has a poisonous effect on Xenopsylla cheopis.
  • Studies have found that its water extract and methanol extract can inhibit HIV-1 infectivity and HIV-1 induced cytopathic changes in MT-4 cells.


  • It can be used in combination with Da Huang (Radix et Rhizoma Rhei), Gan Jiang (Dried Ginger), and Fu Zi (Radix Aconiti Lateralis Preparata) to treat constipation, abdominal distension with abdominal pain, indigestion caused by cold accumulation.
  • It can be used in combination with Lv Fan (Copperas) and Shen Qu (Medicated Leaven) to treat ascites of cirrhosis with advanced schistosomiasis.
  • It can be used in combination with Chuan Bei Mu (Fritillaria Cirrhosa) and Jie Geng (Radix Platycodi) to treat chest and diaphragm suffocation, and the cold sweat of limbs caused by the chest congestion of a cold.
  • It can be used in combination with Dan Nan Xing (Arisaema cum Bile), Zhu Sha (Cinnabaris), and Shen Qu (Medicated Leaven) to eliminate phlegm and remove food retention.
  • It can be used in combination with Ru Xiang (Frankincense), Mo Yao (Myrrh), and Mu Bie Zi (Gac fruit seeds) to promote the discharge of ulcers and treat skin abscesses.

Side Effects

Ba Dou is poisonous and its toxic components are croton oil and crotonallin.

Crotonallin is a cell protoplasmic toxin, which can dissolve red blood cells and cause local cell necrosis.

Croton oil is a drastic purgative, which has a strong stimulating and corrosive effect on the gastrointestinal mucosa. It may cause mouth burning, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhea. In severe cases, it may cause hemorrhagic gastroenteritis or blood in the stool. Skin contact with croton oil may cause acute dermatitis.

Overdose of Ba Dou may cause sore throat, vomiting, intestinal colic or multiple watery diarrhea in a short period, severe abdominal pain, or tenesmus.

In severe cases, it may corrode the intestinal wall, cause rice soup-like stool, headache, vertigo, chills, dehydration, respiratory failure, or death.

Topical Ba Dou Shuang (Semen Crotonis Pulveratum) may cause contact dermatitis, pustular rashes. or blisters.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Ba Dou should be controlled at 0.1-0.3g.
  • It can be made into pills, powders, or ground for external use.
  • Clinically, people make Ba Dou into Ba Dou Shuang (Semen Crotonis Pulveratum), which is used to reduce its toxicity.
  • People who are allergic to Ba Dou should not take it.
  • It should not be used with Qian Niu Zi (Semen Pharbitidis).
  • Weak Patients should not take it.
  • Pregnant women and children should not take it.