Glutinous Rice Root (Nuo Dao Gen)

waxy riceGlutinous rice, also commonly known as sticky rice, Nuo Mi, and waxy rice, is one of staple foods consumed mainly in Southeast and East Asia. Thanks to its characteristic stickiness, it is widely used to make sweet rice wine, glutinous rice dumpling (Zongzi), mixed congee (Ba Bao Zhou), desserts, dim sum like No Mai Gai, sweet soup balls (tangyuan), and so on. Nevertheless, what is less well-known is that its root, or called Nuo Dao Gen, is a wonderful Chinese herb, which is considered to be an effective natural treatment for night sweats. Besides, it also works for a number of other ailments, especially fever, spontaneous perspiration, hepatitis, filariasis, and so on.

What is glutinous rice?

It is an annual cultivated plant. Erect culms are fasciculate and about 1 meter in height. Sheaths are glabrous and the lower ones are longer than those in between; ligule is membranous, hard, lanceolate, 5 to 25mm in length, and with apparent auricle when young; flat blade is from lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, 30 to 60cm long, and 6 to 15cm wide. Loose panicles bend down when ripe and branches are often rough and with angular edges; spikelets are oblong, flattened on both sides, 6 to 8mm long, and with 3 flowers. The two flowers beneath degenerate into minimal lemma and locate below a bisexual flower; glume extremely degenerates and leaves only half-moon trace at the top of the petiolate spikelet; vestigial lemma is 3 to 4mm long; squamations are 2, oval, and about 1mm long; stamens are 6; anther is 2mm long; styles are 2, tubular, short, and broom-like stigma. Caryopsis is smooth. Flower and fruit time is from June to October.

The main medicinal part is the root. Medicinally it mainly refers to the rhizomes and roots of Oryza sativa L. var. Glutinosa Matsum., which is a member in family of Gramineae. Hence, other names of this herb include Nuo Dao Gen Xu, Radix Oryzae Glutinosae, Oryzae glutinosae Radix, Oryzae glutinosae Rhizoma et Radix, Shu Mi root, and so on. In China it is cultivated all over the country and the root is usually collected during October after the harvest of the ripe grains. And then it needs to be dried and used raw.

Root of glutinous rice benefits

As everyone knows, it is good for health. More importantly, there are many sticky rice easy recipes available, such as glutinous rice lotus root, glutinous rice balls with peanut filling, etc. But in terms of the medicinal uses, it is the roots that play an important role. It is so commonly used that many elderly people lived in countryside know it well that the rice roots, especially sticky rice root, can cure night sweats. The knowledge is handed down to them from their ancestors, who have been learning from the nature for thousands of years. That’s why they are able to heal by just picking the plants and flowers at random. Sticky rice root is no exception. To better understand how it works, now let’s take night sweat as an example since it has long been used as one of best herbal remedies for night sweats.

Night sweat is a sign of disease characterized by abnormal sweating right after falling asleep and no sweating right after waking up. The most common causes of night sweats include thyroid problems, breast cancer, infections, menopause, medications, rheumatoid arthritis, Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSA), hormonal disorders, and more. From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, what causes night sweats are heart blood deficiency and fire excess from Yin deficiency. The logic here is quite easy to understand: Yin deficiency – excess Yang – excess heat – night sweating. And TCM believes that roots possess the nature of lurk, which is so intuitive since they grow underground. Medicinally it corresponds to the kidney in humans. Thanks to the lurking properties, glutinous rice root is capable of sealing the excess heat and enriching Yin to cure or prevent night sweats in the end. By the way, ginseng rootlets are good natural remedies for night sweats too.

Sample recipes for sticky rice root on herbal remedies

The Chinese Materia Medica concludes that it is sweet in nature and neutral in nature and it goes to liver meridian. Principal functions include nourishing yin to get rid of heat and stopping sweating. Main indications are fever due to yin deficiency, spontaneous sweating, night sweating, thirst, dry throat, hepatitis, and filariasis. Suggested dosage is from 15 to 30 grams or from 60 to 120 grams in large doses, in decoction. And the fresh roots are preferred.

1. Chyluria can be treated with decoction of 120g sticky rice root, twice a day, and 20 days as a treatment course.

2. It matches with Yi Yi Ren (Coix Seed), Bai Dou Kou (Round Cardamon Fruit), Chen Pi (Citrus Peel), and Gu Ya (Sprouted Rice) to treat dyspepsia and reduced appetite. And it joins hand with Huang Qin (Baical Skullcap) and Bai Zhu (White Atractylodes) for miscarriage prevention.
3. For spontaneous perspiration caused by Chi deficiency, it can be used alone or combined with Huang Qi (Astragalus Root), Dang Shen (Codonopsis), White Atractylodes, Fu Xiao Mai (Triticum Aestivum), etc.

4. For yin deficiency induced night sweat, it is usually formulated with Sheng Di Huang (Rehmannia), Di Gu Pi (Lycium Barbarum Root Bark), Ma Huang Gen (Ephedra root), etc.

5. For the treatment of after the illness symptoms like thirst, persistent fever, and hectic fever due to yin deficiency, it can be used along with Sha Shen (Glehnia), Mai Dong (Monkey Grass), Lycium Barbarum Root Bark, etc.

Root of glutinous rice side effects and contraindications

Glutinous rice is edible since it is one of principal foods in Asia. Therefore, medicinally its roots are safe if used properly. As of this writing, no known side effects and drug interactions are found about this herb. That’s to say, it is suitable for general population no matter it is men, women, children, or the elderly.


1. Zhong Yao Da Ci Dian [Dictionary of Chinese Materia Medica (Volume 2)], [Shanghai Ren Min Chu Ban She (Shanghai People’s Publishing Company)], 1975.2734;
2. Sichuan Zhong Yao Zhi (Manual of Chinese Drugs of Sichuan, 1960).

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