Articles

Cekur

Plant Part Used

Rhizomes, leaves

Active Constituents

Chlorogenic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillic acid, ethyl cinnamate, trans-ethyl cinnamate,ethyl-p- methoxycinnamate, ethyl-p-methoxy-trans-cinnamate, ethyl-p- methoxy-cis-cinnamate, p-methoxycinnamic acid, cinnamic acid ethyl ester, 3-carene-5-one,borneol,camphene, n-pentadecane, 1,8-cineole,limonene, 3-carene, alpha-pinene, camphene, beta-pinene, p-methoxystyrene, camphor, anisic acid, cinnamaldehyde, and quinazoline-4-phenyl-3-oxide. (1) , (2) , (3) , (4) , (5) , (6) , (7) , (8) , (9) , (10) , (11) , (12) , (13)

Introduction

Kaempferia galanga, or cekur, thought to be native to China and India, is now cultivated quite widely in Malaysia and other Southeast Asia countries. It is a herbaceous plant with fleshy rhizomes. The leaves spread out close to the ground. They are usually more or less broadly elliptical in outline and asymmetrical with the tip broadly pointed and the base rounded usually covering on earth. The leaves are 8-10 cm long, 6-7cm wide with wavy margins and the petiole is very short, about 3-10mm long. The flowers are white with a purple patch on one corolla, about 3 cm long and consists of 3 bracteas which is half as long as the corolla. The plant’s rhizomes are short and stout, light brown and consist of dense small tubers sometimes adhering to one another to form a larger tuber. (14)

In Malaysia, the rhizome of cekur mixed with oil is used externally for healing wounds and applied warm on rheumatic regions. The sliced rhizome, as poultice, hastens suppuration of boils (furuncles). A lotion prepared with the rhizome is used to remove dandruff or scales from the head. It is a stimulant, carminative, and diuretic. The powdered rhizome mixed with bees’ honey is given for coughs and pectoral ailments. The plant is also used for flavoring rice and also widely used in cosmetics. (15)

The pharmacognosical evaluations of the plant are documented in the Malaysian Herbal Monograph Volume 1. (16)

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

Dosage range information is not available.

Most Common Dosage

Dosage range information is not available.

Standardization

No standard marker has been reported. Other standard profiles have been documented in the Malaysian Herbal Monograph. (17)

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

There are no toxicities reported on the use of this herb in humans.

Side Effects

Information is not available.

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

Use in pregnancy has not yet been investigated.

Age Limitations

Safety in children and the elderly has not been established.

Pharmacology

The aqueous extract of K. galanga (0.4%) using superfused guinea-pig tracheal preparation was found to inhibit the contraction induced by all three agonists; histamine, acetyl choline, and barium chloride. This suggested that the extract showed a dilating effect. (18) The mechanism of its dilating activity was very unlikely due to the blocking effect of the extract on the histamine and cholinergic receptor of smooth muscle of the trachea. It could not explain why the extract also inhibited the contraction induced by barium chloride. The other mechanism for its dilating action is either through beta 2 adrenoseptor similar to salbutamol or by inhibiting cyclic AMP similar to theophylline or papaverine. The aqueous extract also was reported to show anti-inflammatory properties when administered intraperitoneally to rats with acute inflammation. In the carrageenin-induced paw oedema, the aqueous extract showed significant anti-inflammatory activity at doses of 30,60, and 125 mg/kg. (19)

Vasorelaxant effects of the chloroform extract of K.galanga on smooth muscle of the rat have also been reported. (20) The extract inhibited the tonic concentrations induced by high K+ and phenylephrine in a concentration dependent manner. Ethyl cinnamate isolated from the rhizomes of K. galanga was found to show vasorelaxant effects on smooth muscles of the rat aorta. Ethyl cinnamate inhibited the tonic contractions induced by high K+ and phenylephrine in a concentration-dependent manner, with respective IC50 values of 0.30+/- 0.05 mM and 0.38 +/- 0.04 mM. The relaxant effect against phenylephrine-induced contractions was greater in the presence of the endothelium. Pretreatment of the aorta with methylene blue and indomethacin significantly reduced the relaxant effect. These results suggest that the inhibitory effects of ethyl cinnamate may involve inhibition of Ca 2+ influx into vascular cells and the release of nitric oxide and prostacyclin from the endothelial cells. (21) The rhizomes of K. galanga were found to contain a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor which could be used in the treatment for the treatment depression, (22) and also highly toxic to He La cells. (23) , (24)

The ethanol extract of K.galanga was tested for the inhibitory activity against tumor promoter teleocidin B-4 (or TPA)-induced Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) activation in Raji cells. The extract showed moderate anti-tumor promoting activities at a concentration of 100*g/ml. Ethyl-p-methoxy-trans-cinnamate, one of the compounds isolated not only had the inhibitory activity of EBV activation in vitro, but also had the inhibitory effects in the tests of TPA or croton oil-induced ear edema, ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity in mouse epidermis and papilloma in mouse skin in vivo. The results indicated that ethyl-p-methoxycinnamate had an anti-tumor promotion effect. (25) In an earlier study, K. galanga was also reported to possess inhibitory activity towards EBV activation, induced by TPA with no cytotoxicity effects in Raji cells. The study showed that normal use ofK.galanga in Malaysian traditional medicine contain naturally occurring non-toxic compounds that inhibit the EBV activation, which could contribute to the development of cancer prevention methods at the tumour-promoting stage, in vitro. (26)

The oral administration of the ethanol extracts (20mg/day) of both Alpinia galanga and K. galanga effectively lowered the serum and tissue levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and significantly increased the serum levels of high density lipoproteins (HDL) in high cholesterol fed white wistar rats over a period of 4 weeks. (27) A chloroform extract of K. galanga and etyl-p-methoxycinnamate (isolated from the chloroform extract) exhibited significant cytotoxic activity at a concentration as low as 0.1*g/ml, and 10*g/ml respectively using the Brine Shrimp Lethality Assay. Cyclophosphamide, an anti-cancer agent, did not show cytotoxic activity in the same assay at concentrations in the range of 0.1-1000*g/ml. The study also indicated that the chloroform extract, and ethyl-p-methoxycinnamate, the cytotoxic activity were significantly potentiated in the presence of cyclophosphamide. (28) Petroleum ether extract of K. galanga, ethyl-p-methoxycinnamate, and ethyl cinnamate (both isolated from petroleum ether extract of K. galanga ) were tested against eight selected organisms (E.coli, E.aerogenes, S.aureus, Kl.aerogenes, S.typhi, Ps.aeruginosa, C.albicans, and B.subtilis) using the agar diffusion method. Except for Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Bacillus subtilis, the rest of the organisms were shown to be inhibited by the petroleum ether extract, ethyl-p-methoxycinnamate, and ethyl cinnamate. (29) The root and rhizome oils of K. galanga also was reported to show antibacterial activity (using disk diffusion method) against S. aureus, and E. coli but no activity was displayed against P. aeruginosa. (30)

The anti-ulcer activity of the methanolic extract of K. galanga Linn. (Family Zingiberaceae) was investigated in rats using various experimental models, which included EtOH/HCl-, restraint water immersion stress-, pylorus ligation-, and indomethacin-induced gastric lesions. The methanolic extract of K. galanga at the doses of 25, 50, 100 and 150 mg/kg, and the reference drugs, cimetidine (H2-receptor antagonist, 100 mg/kg) and misoprostol, (PGE1 analog, 100mg/kg) were used in this study. The methanolic extract of K. galanga showed anti-ulcer activity in all test models.

It is possible that the methanolic extract of K. galanga acts through a defensive mechanism to protect gastric ulceration or that K. galanga possesses a cytoprotective activity. The methanolic extract of K. galanga showed gastric-protective effects when indomethacin was used to induce ulcers, thus suggesting an ability to increase production of prostaglandin, an endogenous defensive factor. Furthermore, the methanolic extract of K. galanga also caused an increase of gastric mucus, an endogenous defensive factor in response to EtOH/HCl-induced gastric ulcers. Unlike cimetidine, the methanolic extract of K. galanga has no anti-secretory activity. In addition, anti-ulcer activity mediated via anti-cholinergic activity is excluded, since K. galanga showed cholinergic activity when tested in isolated guinea-pig ileum. (31)

Larvicidal, adulticidal and repellant effects of K. galanga were also reported. Four fractions of K. galanga (hexane fraction, dichloromethane fraction 1, dichloromethane fraction 2 and methanolic fraction) were tested for larvicidal activity toward the fourth instar Culex quinquefasciatus. The hexane fraction was found to exhibit the highest larvicidal effect with the LC50 of 42.33 ppm. Testing for adulticidal activity, the hexane fraction did not show any promising adulticidal effects. However, it caused a knockdown effect which might be useful as a repellent. It was then tested for repellent activity in human volunteers both in laboratory and field studies. In a laboratory study, the hexane fraction possessed repellant activity against Aedes aegypti (ED50 value of 30.73 microg/cm2), and provided biting protection for 3 hours. In a field study, it could protect against certain mosquitos, ie, Armigeres subalbatus, Anopheles barbirostris, An. aconitus, Mansonia uniformis, Cx. quinquefasciatus, Cx. gelidus, Cx. Tritaeniorhynchus, and Ae. aegypti. The hexane fraction did not cause dermal irritation when applied on human skin. (32)

Reported uses:

Uses reported in folk medicine, but not supported by clinical data
Anti-asthmatic, antibacterial, sore throats, fevers, swelling (boils), rheumatism, removal of dandruff/scales, anti-inflammation, sore eyes, tonic, toothache, coughs, and in cosmetics and flavoring.

Method of preparation
The powdered roots are applied to the abdomen after childbirth to eliminate excessive air in the body's system. Ashes of leaves are rubbed on swollen breasts after childbirth. The rhizome is boiled and drunk as a tonic for health. The underground stem is used as a stimulant and for treating toothaches, cholera, chest pains, headaches, and constipation. The juice from the rhizome has expectorant and carminative properties; it is commonly used in children’s medicines and as tonics. The leaves and rhizome are chewed for relieving coughs and sore throats. The leaves are also used for making lotions and poultices for sore throats, fever, swellings, rheumatism, and sore eyes. Both in Malaysia and Indonesia, cekur is widely used in alot of ‘jamu’ preparations that are moderately warming, especially to treat abdominal pains, swelling, and rheumatism. (33) , (34)

In the Philippines, a decoction of the rhizome is taken as a tonic and for dyspepsia, headache, and malarial chills. It is also used as a gargle. The whole herb is rubbed on the neck as a remedy for headaches associated with colds and the rhizome is mixed with oil to treat boils. In China, this plant is used as a remedy for toothaches, a wash for dandruff, scabs, and lice. In India, the leaves are used as a perfume when washing hair.

Read More

  1) Botanical Info

  2) Cultivation

References

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  2. Kosuge T, Yamamato T. Studies on Anticancer Principles in Chinese Medicines II. Cytotoxic Principles in Biota orientalis (L). ENDL, and Kaempferia galanga L. Chem Pharm Bull. 1985;33:5565-5567.
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