Cao Dou Kou (Semen Alpiniae Katsumadai)

What Is Cao Dou Kou

Cao Dou Kou commonly known as Semen Alpiniae Katsumadai is the nearly ripe seed of Alpinia katsumadai Hayata, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Zingiberaceae. It first appeared in <Lei Gong Pao Zhi Lun> (Master Lei’s Discourse on Processing of Chinese Materia Medica) in the Northern and Southern Dynasties. (420 AD–589 AD)

There are about 250 species of Alpinia, which are mainly distributed in tropical Asia. Among them, some plants are used medicinally, such as Alpinia katsumadai, A. officinarnm, and A. oxypnylla.

Alpinia katsumadai often grow in mountain forests. They are mainly distributed in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, and Yunnan.

In summer and autumn, people gather the nearly ripe fruits of Alpinia katsumadai, dry them to 90%, or slightly scald them with boiling water, dry them to semi-dry, remove impurities and their peels, take out their seeds, dry them in the sun, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Cao Dou Kou contains 1,8-cineole, humulene, lauric acid, myristic acid, L-linalool, linalyl propionate, carotenol, α-pinene, β-pinene, alnusenone, 3-(acetyloxy)-alpinikatin, 5-(acetyloxy)-alpinikatin, (3R)-5,6,7-trihydroxy-3-isopropyl-3-methylisochroman-1-one, katsumain C, 7-epi-katsumain C, ent-alpinnanin B, ent-alpinnanin A, alpinnanin B, ent-calyxin H, epicalyxin H, calyxin H, pinocembrin, alpinetin, rhodomolleinI, aurantiamide acetate, katsumains A-G, katsumadain, helichrysetin, uvangoletin, cardamomin, pinocembrin chalcone, catechin, pinobanksin, galangin, glycosides, saponins, lactones, nitrogen compounds, and some trace elements.

Generally, the plump Cao Dou Kou with a strong aroma are preferred.

According to <Kaibao Bencao>, the medicinal property of Cao Dou Kou is relatively warm, with a pungent taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the spleen and stomach meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to dry dampness and promote the circulation of qi, warm middle energizer and arrest vomiting, and treat abdominal distension, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, belching, vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion, stomach pain, urinary discomfort, stroke, nephritis, chronic pelvic inflammatory disease.

There are about 150 kinds of traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Shen Gui Zai Zao Wan, Jie Bai Wan, and Fu Fang Cao Dou Kou Ding.

Benefits

  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting LPS-induced NO and PGE2 production in RAW264.7 cells[1].
  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging DPPH free radicals, increasing superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase activities, and reducing malondialdehyde content.
  • Reducing gastric acidity and pepsin activity, inhibiting acetic acid gastric ulcer in rats.
  • Inhibiting house dust mite-induced atopic dermatitis in NC/Nga mice [2].
  • Drying dampness and promoting the circulation of qi, treating abdominal distention and cold pain, loss of appetite caused by internal retention of cold wetness or stagnation of spleen and stomach qi.
  • Warming middle energizer and dissipating cold, treating vomiting and hiccup caused by the superabundance of cold-dampness in the interior or adverse rising of stomach qi.
  • Warming the Spleen and drying dampness, treating abdominal pain and diarrhea caused by the superabundance of cold-dampness in the interior.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of lung cancer A549 cells, gastric cancer SGC-7901 cells, liver cancer HepG2 cells, liver cancer SMMC-7721 cells, and leukemia K562 cells.
  • Its decoction has some inhibitory effects on Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Bacillus dysenteriae, Helicobacter pylori, and Campylobacter.
  • (3R)-5,6,7-trihydroxy-3-isopropyl-3-methylisochroman-1-one has neuroprotective effects on 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium-induced oxidative damage in PC12 cells [3].
  • Studies have found that its ethanolic extract can significantly inhibit the increase in Th2-type cytokines and mRNA expression such as IL-4 and IL-5 in BALF and lung tissue, and effectively suppress IgE, IgG2a, eosinophilia, and mucus hypersecretion in the asthmatic mouse model [4].

Combinations

  • It can be used in combination with Gan Jiang (Dried Ginger), Chen Pi (Tangerine Peel), Hou Po (Magnolia Bark) and to treat abdominal distention and cold pain, loss of appetite caused by internal retention of cold wetness, or stagnation of spleen and stomach qi.
  • It can be used in combination with Rou Gui (Cortex Cinnamomi), Gao Liang Jiang (Rhizoma Alpiniae Officinarum), and Chen Pi (Tangerine Peel) to treat vomiting and hiccup caused by the superabundance of cold-dampness in the interior or adverse rising of stomach qi.
  • It can be used in combination with Cang Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis), Hou Po (Magnolia Bark), and Mu Xiang (Radix Aucklandiae) to treat abdominal pain and diarrhea caused by the superabundance of cold-dampness in the interior.
  • It can be used in combination with Rou Gui (Cortex Cinnamomi) and Xiao Hui Xiang (Fructus Foeniculi) to treat stomach cold pain, vomiting of watery fluid, and sputum caused by pathogenic cold invading stomach or stagnation of stomach-qi.
  • It can be used in combination with Fu Ling (Poria), Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae), and Huang Qi (Radix Astragali) to treat nephritis caused by spleen and kidney yang deficiency.

Side Effects

At present, there is no literature report that Cao Dou Kou has toxic effects, and no data is showing that taking it at the prescribed dose can cause serious adverse reactions.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Cao Dou Kou should be controlled at 3-6g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, or powders.
  • It is recommended to crush Cao Dou Kou before using it.
  • When making prescriptions containing it, other medicines should be boiled first, and when the other medicines are almost ready, add Cao Dou Kou and decoct them slightly.
  • People who are allergic to Cao Dou Kou should not take it.
  • Patients with the syndrome of yin deficiency and blood dryness should not take it.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should take it under the guidance of a doctor.