Rou Dou Kou – Nutmeg – Semen Myristicae

Rou Dou Kou

English Name: myristica, nutmeg

Pharmaceutical Name: Semen Myristicae

Medica Category: Astringent Herbs

Properties: Rou Dou Kou enters the Large Intestine, Spleen, and Stomach channels; it is acrid in nature and warm in temperature.

What is Rou Dou Kou?:

The Chinese Herb Rou Dou Kou is the dried, inner seed of the fruit of the nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans Houtt.). Nutmeg trees are native to Indonesia but now cultivated around the world for the commercial production of the seeds from which the spice that we are familiar with is derived. It takes these trees about eight years to begin producing fruit. When this fruit ripens, it splits in half, revealing a bright red, netlike structure wrapped around a dark, brittle shell. Within this shell is the nutmeg seed, which are removed from the fruit and dried in the sun. For use as medicine to stop diarrhea and to warm the middle (see below), the seeds are roasted (as unprocessed Rou Dou Kou contains an essential oil that stimulates the intestines and causes diarrhea).

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Therapeutic Actions of Rou Dou Kou:

Rou Dou Kou binds the intestines to address chronic diarrhea (i.e. watery diarrhea, often with bits of undigested food) that is caused by Spleen yang deficiency and presents with secondary symptoms of rectal prolapse, abdominal fullness and distention, vomiting, and poor appetite. Severe cases of Spleen yang deficiency where there is also Kidney yang deficiency present with early morning diarrhea as well (aka “5 am diarrhea” or “cock’s crow diarrhea”).

Rou Dou Kou warms the middle jiao, regulates qi, and stops pain when there is deficiency and cold in the middle. It is used to address the epigastric fullness and pain, abdominal bloating, poor appetite, indigestion, and sensations of cold that are indicative of qi stagnation in the middle (which is in turn is rooted in Spleen yang deficiency).

–safety/clinical notes:

Contraindicated for persons with diarrhea or dysentery caused by heat/damp-heat.