Skip to main content

Sha Ren

Scientific Name(s): Amomum villosum Lour., Amomum xanthioides Wall. ex Baker
Common Name(s): Amomum fruit, Bastard cardamom, Chun sha ren, Fructus amomi, Malabar cardamom, Tavoy cardamom, Yang chun sha

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Nov 1, 2022.

Clinical Overview


Historically, sha ren has been used as a carminative and for various GI tract complaints. In China, it has been used to increase appetite. Small clinical trials have been conducted to evaluate GI and antidiabetic effects of sha ren; however, clinical trial data are lacking to recommend use for any indication.


Clinical trial data are lacking to support specific dosing recommendations.


Contraindications have not been identified.


Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Information regarding potential adverse reactions is limited.


No data.

Scientific Family

  • Zingiberaceae (ginger)


A. xanthioides is native to tropical Asia, most abundantly in southern India, and is cultivated throughout southwestern China. The therapeutic action of sha ren is associated with the fruit or seed. The soft, thin outer surface or peel of the fruit is brownish red and covered with thornlike projections. The flattened pyramid-shaped seeds are firm in texture and average 3 mm in length, often with 4 to 15 seeds in 3 cavities separated by 3 blunt ridges. The fruit has a strong aroma and a pungent, bitter taste.(Apel 2000, Evans 2002, Lawless 1996, Liao 2000, Reid 1993)


Sha ren has been used commercially and medicinally in China and India for more than 3,000 years. European, Latin American, and Middle Eastern countries have used the plant as a spice. The seeds have been used in liquors, veterinary medicine, cosmetics, perfumes, and as a fragrance in soaps.(Bruneton 1995, Evans 2002, Lawless 1996)

Hippocrates recommended sha ren in the treatment of cough, abdominal pain, nervous disorders, sciatica, retention of urine, and venomous bites. It is considered a carminative and GI tract aid (eg, enteritis, dysentery, nausea, vomiting). In China, it has been used to stimulate appetite. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia lists sha ren for the treatment of flatulent dyspepsia.(Apel 2000, Chopra 1982, Guo 2008, Lawless 1996)


The volatile oil of sha ren contains monoterpenoids (eg, borneol, bornyl acetate, camphene, camphor, caryophyllene, limonene, linalool, myrcene, nerolidol, pinene, terpinene). Borneol and bornyl acetate are the principal terpenoids. In addition, the stem of the plant contains daucosterol and emodin monoglycoside.(Fan 1994, Lawless 1996, Lawrence 1970, Lawrence 1972)

Beta-caryophyllene, alpha-humulene, and their epoxides contribute to the seed's aroma, while paradol is responsible for its pungency. Sha ren also contains calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and zinc.(Evans 2002, Fan 1994, Lawrence 1970, Lawrence 1972)

Uses and Pharmacology

Allergic reactions

Animal data

In a murine model, anal administration of sha ren inhibited compound 40/80–induced reactions and histamine release.(Kim 2007) Sha ren extract also attenuated nasal inflammation by restoring Th1/Th2 balance and downregulation of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-KB) phosphorylation in ovalbumin-induced allergic rhinitis in mouse models.(Fan 2022)

Antibacterial effects

Animal and in vitro data

Sha ren essential oil obtained by hydrodistillation inhibited the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli, and Listeria monocytogenes.(Natta 2008) A study examining the antimicrobial mechanism showed that A. villosum essential oil causes metabolic dysfunction in methicillin-resistant S. aureus, leading to reduced reactive oxygen species levels, disruption of the tricarboxylic acid cycle, inhibition of adenosine triphosphate synthesis, and suppression of the activities of key enzymes.(Tang 2021)

Antioxidant/Anti-inflammatory effects

Animal and in vitro and ex vivo data

In one study, 16 Chinese medicinal herbs were extracted and prepared as tonic soups to investigate antioxidant activity compared with ascorbic acid and butylated hydroxytoluene. Sha ren was among the 3 herbs possessing the highest antioxidant activity, as measured in 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrozil and ferric reducing antioxidant power assays.(Guo 2008)

Activation of the nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2)/heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) pathway by A. villosum extract suppressed lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced oxidative stress both in vitro and ex vivo. These results show that A. villosum ethanol extract exerts anti-inflammatory effects by activating the Nrf2/HO-1 pathway in LPS-stimulated macrophages.(Lim 2020)

In a mouse model of atopic dermatitis, an extract of A. xanthoides reduced inflammation via several pathways.(Choi 2017)


Animal data

One study investigated the protective effect of sha ren extract against alloxan-induced diabetes in mice. Results indicated that the extract provides a protective effect against NF-KB activation, which is considered a primary determinant in the progression of diabetes.(Park 2001)

Clinical data

A single-blind, randomized, crossover study assessed postprandial blood insulin and blood glucose responses in 40 healthy subjects after consumption of A. villosum water extract (AVE) (5 g per person) or placebo (5 g per person). AVE intake resulted in a significant (67.26%) decline in postprandial blood glucose AUC0–120 minute versus placebo (P=0.011). Furthermore, AVE reduced postprandial blood insulin AUC0–120 minute by 59.95% compared with the placebo group (P<0.003), supporting the blood glucose results. Effects were due in part to inhibition of alpha-glucosidase and glucose transport.(Kim 2020)

Estrogenic effects

In vitro data

In an in vitro yeast model system, an A. xanthioides extract possessed estrogenic effects at a concentration of 0.1 mg/mL.(Kang 2006)

GI effects

Animal and in vitro data

In a murine model, an ethanolic extract of sha ren inhibited ethanol-induced gastric lesions as well as the growth of Helicobacter pylori. The butanol fraction at 350 mg/kg and a subfraction were the most effective at inhibiting gastric lesions, also causing a dose-dependent reduction in cell viability in gastric cancer cell lines.(Kim 2007) In vitro evidence also suggests that total flavonoids from A. villosum may be a good candidate in the development of new drugs for the treatment of gastric cancer.(Yue 2021) The effect of water extracts and volatile oil from A. villosum significantly attenuated intestinal inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel disease in rats.(Chen 2018) Volatile oil from Amomi fructus has been shown to attenuate 5-fluorouracil–induced intestinal mucositis in rats.(Zhang 2017)

Clinical data

In a randomized, controlled comparator trial in 80 Chinese adults with H. pylori–positive mild to severe chronic gastritis, significantly improved clinical efficacy was observed in sha ren–treated patients compared with those treated with triple therapy (amoxicillin, bismuth, tinidazole); effective rate was 88.1% versus 78.9%, respectively (P<0.01). Sha ren volatile oil extract was administered orally as 0.5 mL (0.1 g of crude drug/mL) 3 times daily. After 4 weeks of therapy, 33% of patients were cured with sha ren volatile oil versus 23% of triple therapy controls. H. pylori seronegative conversion was not significantly different between the 2 groups (radical eliminating rate of H. pylori, 76% vs 66%, respectively). Analysis of the expression of mastocarcinoma-related peptide (PS2), platelet activating factor, and gastric membrane phospholipids revealed significant improvements with sha ren extract compared with controls (P<0.01 each).(Huang 2008)

Hepatic disease

Animal data

A methanol fraction of A. xanthoides attenuated elevated bilirubin, liver tissue hydroxyproline, and malondialdehyde levels in a rat model of thioacetamide-induced liver fibrosis. Additionally, the methanol fraction of A. xanthoides attenuated expression of platelet-derived growth factor-beta, inducible nitric oxide synthase, inducible nitric oxide synthase, and hepatocyte growth factor.(Wang 2011) The volatile oil of A. villosum administered to male Sprague-Dawley rats also inhibited nonalcoholic fatty liver disease via the gut-liver axis.(Lu 2018)

Obesity/Weight loss

Animal and in vitro data

In a murine model, sha ren extract as well as 6-paradol, the pungent component of sha ren, activated thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue. Additionally, 6-paradol was absorbed in the intestines of rats without desensitization to the effects. The authors concluded that 6-paradol could be considered a lead molecule for weight loss indications.(Iwami 2011)


Clinical trial data are lacking to support specific dosing recommendations for sha ren.

Pregnancy / Lactation

Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Information regarding potential adverse reactions is limited.


Toxicology information is limited.



This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

Apel U. Traditional Village Forest Management: The Village Forest of Moxie, Southwest-China. Eschborn: German Agency for Technical Cooperation; 2000.
Bruneton J. Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry, Medicinal Plants. 2nd ed. Lavoisier; 1999.
Chen Z, Ni W, Yang C, et al. Therapeutic effect of Amomum villosum on inflammatory bowel disease in rats. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:639. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.0063929973876
Choi YA, Choi JK, Jang YH, et al. Anti‑inflammatory effect of Amomum xanthioides in a mouse atopic dermatitis model. Mol Med Rep. 2017;16(6):8964-8972. doi:10.3892/mmr.2017.769528990098
Chopra R, Chopra I, Handa K, Kapur L. Chopra's Indigenous Drugs of India. Calcutta, India: Academic Publishers; 1982.
Evans WC. Trease and Evans' Pharmacognosy. 15th ed. WB Saunders; 2002.
Fan X, Du YC, Wei JX. Chemical constituents of roots, rhizomes, and stems of Amomum villosum Lour. Article in Chinese. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 1994;19(12):734-736,762.7718134
Fan Y, Nguyen TV, Piao CH, Shin HS, Song CH, Chai OH. Fructus Amomi extract attenuates nasal inflammation by restoring Th1/Th2 balance and down-regulation of NF-κB phosphorylation in OVA-induced allergic rhinitis. Biosci Rep. 2022;42(3):BSR20212681. doi:10.1042/BSR2021268135274678
Guo DJ, Cheng HL, Chan SW, Yu PH. Antioxidative activities and the total phenolic contents of tonic Chinese medicinal herbs. Inflammopharmacology. 2008;16(5):201-207. doi:10.1007/s10787-008-8016-918815744
Huang GD, Huang YH, Xiao MZ, Huang DF, Liu J, Li JB. Effect of volatile oil of Amomum on expressions of platelet activating factor and mastocarcinoma-related peptide in the gastric membrane of chronic gastritis patients with Helicobacter-pylori infection. Chin J Integr Med. 2008;14(1):23-27. doi:10.1007/s11655-008-0023-618568325
Iwami M, Mahnoud FA, Shiina T, et al. Extract of grains of paradise and its active principle 6-paradol trigger thermogenesis of brown adipose tissue in rats. Auton Neurosci. 2011;161(1-2):63-67. doi:10.1016/j.autneu.2010.11.01221185236
Kang SC, Lee CM, Choi H, et al. Evaluation of oriental medicinal herbs for estrogenic and antiproliferative activities. Phytother Res. 2006;20(11):1017-1019. doi:10.1002/ptr.198716906642
Kim HR, Paulrayer A, Kwon YG, et al. Acute effects of Amomum villosum Lour. fruit extract on postprandial glycemia and insulin secretion: A single-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study in healthy subjects. Saudi J Biol Sci. 2020;27(11):2968-2971. doi:10.1016/j.sjbs.2020.07.01733100854
Kim SH, Lee S, Kim IK, et al. Suppression of mast cell-mediated allergic reaction by Amomum xanthiodes. Food Chem Toxicol. 2007;45(11):2138-2144. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2007.05.01117602813
Lawless J. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Oils in Aromatherapy and Herbalism. Element; 1996.
Lawrence BM, Hogg JW, Terhune SJ. Terpenoids of two Amomum species from Thailand. Phytochemistry. 1972;11(4):1534-1535.
Lawrence BM. Terpenes in two Amomum species. Phytochemistry. 1970;9(3):665.
Liao JP, Qi-Gen W. A preliminary study of the seed anatomy of Zingiberaceae. Bot J Linn Soc. 2000;134(1-2):287-300.
Lim DW, Choi HJ, Park SD, et al. Activation of the Nrf2/HO-1 pathway by Amomum villosum extract suppresses LPS-induced oxidative stress in vitro and ex vivo. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2020;2020:2837853. doi:10.1155/2020/283785332454852
Lu S, Zhang T, Gu W, et al. Volatile oil of Amomum villosum inhibits nonalcoholic fatty liver disease via the gut-liver axis. Biomed Res Int. 2018;2018:3589874. doi:10.1155/2018/358987430112382
Natta L, Orapin K, Krittika N, Pantip B. Essential oil from five Zingiberaceae for anti food-borne bacteria. Int Food Res J. 2008;15(3):337-346.
Park BH, Park JW. The protective effect of Amomum xanthoides extract against alloxan-induced diabetes through the suppression of NFkappaB activation. Exp Mol Med. 2001;33(2):64-68. doi:10.1038/emm.2001.1211460883
Reid DP. Chinese Herbal Medicine. Shambhala; 1993.
Tang C, Chen J, Zhou Y, et al. Exploring antimicrobial mechanism of essential oil of Amomum villosum Lour through metabolomics based on gas chromatography-mass spectrometry in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Microbiol Res. 2021;242:126608. doi:10.1016/j.micres.2020.12660833068829
Wang JH, Shin JW, Choi MK, Kim HG, Son CG. An herbal fruit, Amomum xanthoides, ameliorates thioacetamide-induced hepatic fibrosis in rat via antioxidative system. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011;135(2):344-350. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.03.02621419209
Yue J, Zhang S, Zheng B, et al. Efficacy and mechanism of active fractions in fruit of Amomum villosum lour. for gastric cancer. J Cancer. 2021;12(20):5991-5998.34539873
Zhang T, Lu SH, Bi Q, et al. Volatile oil from Amomi fructus attenuates 5-fluorouracil-induced intestinal mucositis. Front Pharmacol. 2017;8:786. doi:10.3389/fphar.2017.0078629170638

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.