Sha Ren (Fructus Amomi)

What Is Sha Ren

Sha Ren commonly known as Fructus Amomi is the mature fruit of Amomum villosum, A. villosum var. xanthioides, or A. longiligulare, which is a perennial herb belonging to the family Zingiberaceae. It is a relatively practical and common Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Yao Xing Lun> (Discourse on the Properties of Pharmaceutical Substances) in the 7th century AD.

Previously, Amomum villosum, A. villosum var. xanthioides, and A. longiligulare belonged to the genus Cardamom. They are now grouped into the genus Wurfbainia.

There are about 26 species of Wurfbainia, which are widely distributed in tropical Asia. Among them, some species have high economic value and can be made into medicines and spices.

Amomum villosum is also known as Wurfbainia villosa. They like the warm and humid climate of tropical and subtropical monsoon forests. They often grow in the shady and wet mountains. They are distributed in Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan, and Fujian.

Amomum villosum

A. villosum var. xanthioides often grow in moist forests at an altitude of 600-800 m. They are distributed in southern Yunnan, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and India.

A. longiligulare T.L.Wu also known as Wurfbainia longiligularis is a tropical semi-shade plant. They prefer warm, cool, humid, and foggy climates. They often grow in the valleys and dense forests. They are mainly distributed in Hainan, Guangdong, and Yunnan in China, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand.

In summer and autumn, people gather the mature fruits of Amomum villosum, A. villosum var. xanthioides, or A. longiligulare, dry them in the sun or at low temperature, and make them into Chinese herbal medicines.

Sha Ren contains bornyl acetate, bomeol, camphor, camphene, α-pinene, β-pinene, α-copaene, globulol, piperitol, carypohyllene, stigmasterol, α-bisabolol, pseudolimonene, d-citrene, myrtenol, α-cadinol, α-eucalyptol, quercetin, catechin, quercitrin, isoquercitrin, β-daucosterol, polysaccharides, organic acids, and some trace elements.

Generally, tan and plump Sha Ren with a strong aroma are preferred.

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

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to resolve dampness and whet the appetite, warm middle energizer and stop diarrhea, promote the circulation of qi and prevent abortion, and treat abdominal distension, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, belching, loss of appetite, indigestion, diarrhea, loose stools, nausea during pregnancy, fetal irritability, aphtha, gastric ulcers, ulcerative colitis, mastitis, chronic myelogenous leukemia, and anorexia.

There are about 250 kinds of traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Xiang Sha Zhi Shu Wan, Xiang Sha Liu Jun Wan, and Tai Shan Pan Shi San.

Benefits

  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting xylene-induced ear swelling and carrageenan-induced paw swelling in mice.
  • Increasing the pain threshold, reducing the number of writhing induced by acetic acid, and prolonging the latency of tail-flick responses to thermal stimulation in mice.
  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging DPPH free radicals and hydroxyl free radicals.
  • Improving β-cell ultrastructure and reducing streptozotocin-induced blood glucose levels in mice.
  • Inhibiting gastric juice, gastric acid, gastrin secretion, and pepsin activity, and protecting gastric mucosa.
  • Promoting gastric emptying and gastrointestinal motility and reducing bloating caused by gastric retention.
  • Inhibiting senna-induced diarrhea in mice.
  • Inhibiting the aggregation of rabbit platelets caused by ADP.
  • Resolving dampness, enlivening the spleen, whetting the appetite, and treating abdominal distention and pain caused by damp retention in middle-jiao, or stagnation of qi.
  • Warming middle energizer and stomach, treating vomiting and diarrhea caused by deficiency-cold in the spleen and stomach.
  • Regulating qi to harmonize middle energizer, relieving nausea and loss of appetite during pregnancy.
  • Benefiting vital energy and nourishing blood, treating fetal irritability caused by insufficiency of qi and blood.
  • Its volatile oil has some inhibitory effect on Staphylococcus, Trichophyton rubrum, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, and Klebsiella pneumoniae.
  • Studies have found that its aqueous extract has a significant recovery effect on the intestinal flora imbalance caused by antibiotics.

Combinations

  • It can be used in combination with Hou Po (Magnolia Bark), Chen Pi (Tangerine Peel), and Zhi Shi (Fructus Aurantii Immaturus) to treat abdominal distention and pain caused by damp retention in middle-jiao.
  • It can be used in combination with Mu Xiang (Radix Aucklandiae) and Zhi Shi (Fructus Aurantii Immaturus) to treat abdominal distention and pain caused by stagnation of spleen and stomach qi.
  • It can be used in combination with Dang Shen (Radix Codonopsis), Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae), and Fu Ling (Poria) to treat abdominal distention and pain caused by qi deficiency of the spleen and stomach.
  • It can be used in combination with Gan Jiang (Dried Ginger) and Fu Zi (Radix Aconiti Lateralis Preparata) to treat vomiting and diarrhea caused by deficiency-cold in the spleen and stomach.
  • It can be used in combination with Zi Su Geng (Caulis Perillae) and Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae) to relieve nausea and loss of appetite during pregnancy.
  • It can be used in combination with Ren Shen (Radix et Rhizoma Ginseng), Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae), and Shu Di Huang (Processed Rehmannia Root) to treat fetal irritability caused by insufficiency of qi and blood.

Side Effects

At present, there are no reports in the literature that Sha Ren has toxic effects.

A small percentage of patients taking it may cause allergic reactions, such as congestive rashes, red macules, or reddish rashes on the abdomen or external genitalia.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Sha Ren should be controlled at 3-6g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, powders, or medicinal liquors.
  • It is recommended to crush Sha Ren before using it.
  • When making prescriptions containing it, other medicines should be boiled first, and when the other medicines are almost ready, add Sha Ren and decoct them slightly.
  • People who are allergic to Sha Ren should not take it.
  • It should not be taken with medicines containing spironolactone.
  • 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.