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Kaempferia galanga L.


Alpinia sessilis J.Koenig, Kaempferia humilis Salisb., Kaempferia latifolia Donn ex Hornem., Kaempferia marginata Carey ex Roscoe, Kaempferia plantaginifolia Salisb., Kaempferia procumbens Noronha, Kaempferia rotunda Blanco [Illegitimate] [7]

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Cekur [2][5], cekur Jawa, kencur [5]
English East Indian galangal, galanga, spice lily, resurrection lily [2], maraba [8]
China Shan-nai [4]
India Kachoram (Tamil; Siddha) [8]; chandra-mula (Hindi); chandramulika, sugandhavacha (Sanskrit); achoram, kacholum, kencur, tjekur [2]
Indonesia Chekur, chengkur, kenchur (Javanese); kencur [2]
Thailand Pro hom, waan hom, waan teendin, khiey, krachai [2]
Philippines Disol, doto, kisol [2]
Vietnam Teu dau [2]
Hong Kong Sarn-noi [4]
Japan Ban-u-kon [4]
Germany Chinenischer galgant, gewürzlilie, kentjur, Thai-ingwer [2].

General Information


Kaempferia galanga is a member of the Zingiberaceae family. It is a stemless herb arising from tuberous rootstocks with fibrous cylindrical roots. The rhizome has dark reddish-brown skin and the soft interior is nearly white. [11] [24]

The leaves usually 2-3(-5), spread horizontally, dark green, broadly elliptical to slightly flat with circular outline, measuring 8-15 cm wide. The blade is often lying flat to the soil, the top surface is smooth while the bottom surface is cobweb-hairy. [11] [24]

The inflorescence is sessile, emerging from between the leaves. It is 4-12(-15)-flowered. The sepal is 2-3 cm long. The petal is white, with tube 2.5-5 cm long and lobes 1.5-3 cm long. Their lip is broadly reversed egg-shaped, divided to about halfway or more, white or pale purple with violet to purple spots at the base. Each lateral lobe is about 2-2.5 cm x 1.5-2 cm. Other abortive stamen has an imperfect anther that is oblong-reversed egg-shaped to oblong-lance-shaped, 1.5-3 cm long and white. Their fertile stamen is 10-13 mm long, with two lobes deeply connective with abruptly bent lobes. [11]

Plant Part Used

Rhizome and leaves [2]

Chemical Constituents

The essential oil from K. galanga rhizomes has been reported to contain n-pentadecane, ethyl-p-methoxy cinnamate, ethyl-cinnamate, carene, camphene, borneol, p-methoxystyrene, p-methoxy cinnamate, p-methoxy-trans-cinnamic acid and cinnamaldehyde. [8]

Aqueous extract of K. galanga rhizomes has been reported to contain two novel sulfonated diarylheptanoid epimers namely kaempsulfonic acid A and kaempsulfonic B. [9]

Ethyl acetate and n-hexane fractions of the ethanol extract of K. galanga rhizomes has been reported to contain kaempferol and trans-ethyl p-methoxycinnamate. [19]

Traditional Uses

K. galanga rhizome is considered stimulant, carminative, diuretic and expectorant [1][6]. This has rendered its usefulness in the treatment of abdominal pain, flatulence, toothache, vomiting and diarrhoea [6]. The rhizome also possessed anti-inflammatory activity where in the form of powder or ointment, it is used for treatment of wounds and bruises thus reduced the swelling [1].

K. galanga rhizome can be used to treat wind and phlegm, restore digestive heat, and help circulate the blood [3]. The powdered rhizome mixed with honey is an expectorant used to treat productive cough and pectoral affection. Besides, oil prepared from the rhizome is applied over the nasal region to relieve nasal congestion [1]. The preparation also can be used to treat wounds and applied to rheumatic region. [6] Roasted rhizomes are applied as hot poultice in rheumatism [1].

The Thais and Indian used dried rhizomes to treat cardiac complaints. It functions to promote vital energy circulation and alleviate pain. [6]

In Philippines, a decoction of the rhizomes is used for dyspepsia, headhache, and malaria [1][6]. A gargle made from a decoction of the rhizome can relieve sorethroat [1]. In Malaysia, a piece of the K. galanga rhizome of the thumb size is chewed with some salt to treat sore throat. They also boiled the rhizome with other roots and used in the treatment of women after childbirth. It is believed to warm the body and can used as a tonic [5].

A lotion prepared from the rhizome is used as antidandruff and to remove scalps from the head. [6]

Lotions and poultices of K. galanga leaves are used to treat sore eyes, rheumatism and fever [6]. In Malaysia, the crushed leaves are used as hot compresses in the treatment of traumatic injuries to reduce the swelling [5].

The herb is famously used by Asian in their cooking. [6]

Preclinical Data


Hypopigmentary activity

Ethyl p-nethoxyxinnamate compound isolated from the ethanol extract of K. galanga significantly decreased the melanin synthesis in B1610 murine melanoma cells stimulated with alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH) but did not directly inhibited tyrosinase, the rate-limiting enzyme of melanogenesis. It also decreased microphthalmia-associated transcription factor and tyrosinase levels in α-MSH-stimulated B16F10 cells. This pigment-inhibitory effect was shown to occur via downregulating tyrosinase activity, thus has the probability could be developed as a skin whitening agent to treat hyperpigmentary disorders. [10]

Sedative activity

Crude hexane extract and its two isolated active aromatic compounds of K. galanga namely ethyl trans-p-methoxycinnamate and ethyl cinnamate administered by inhalation in mice showed sedative effects at different doses. Crude extract showed significant sedative effect at doses 1.5 mg (p<0.01) and 10 mg (p<0.05) while ethyl trans-p-methoxycinnamate and ethyl cinnamate showed the effect at doses 0.0014 mg (p<0.05) and 0.0012 mg, respectively comparable to control group lavender oil. The sedative effect caused the mice to appear relaxant, drowsy, moveless and falling asleep along with passing a little stool and urine. [12]

Anti-inflammatory activities

The chloroform fraction of the chloroform extract of K. galanga extract (1 g/kg) showed significant (p<0.001) anti-inflammatory activity (51.9 % inhibition) on carrageenan-induced edema in rats. Furthermore, the hexane-chloroform sub-fraction of the fraction which contains ethyl-p-methoxycinnamate (EPMC) as the major component significantly (p < 0.001) showed more potent inhibiting effect on edema with 53.7% inhibition and MIC value of 100 mg/kg.  EPMC also non-selectively inhibited the cyclooxygenases 1 and 2 activities with IC₅₀ values of 1.12 µM and 0.83 µM, respectively. [16]

Alcohol extract of K. galanga (600 and 1200 mg/kg) administered to carrageenan induced paw edema (acute study) and cotton pellet induced granuloma (sub-acute study) in rats showed significant (p<0.001) anti-inflammatory activity compared to standard drug control aspirin (100 mg/kg). [15]

Aqueous extract of K. galanga leaves (30, 100, and 300 mg/kg) administered in carrageenan-induced paw-edema in mice/rats also showed significant (p<0.05) anti-inflammatory activity in a dose-dependent manner. [13]

Antinociceptic activities

Aqueous extract of K. galanga leaves (30, 100, and 300 mg/kg) administered subcutaneously in mice/rats 30 min prior to the tests exhibited significant (P < 0.05) antinociceptive activity when assessed using the abdominal constriction, hot-plate and formalin tests, with activity observed in all tests occurring in a dose-dependent manner [13]

Methanol extract of K. galanga rhizhome (200 mg/kg) administered orally to mice and rats using acetic acid-induced writhing, formalin, hot plate and tail-flick tests clearly exhibited dose- and time-dependent antinociceptive activity in all tests stronger than aspirin (100 mg/kg, p.o.) but less than morphine (5 mg/kg, s.c.). The activity mechanism has occurred to be mediated by both peripheral and central actions and probably involving the opioid receptors. [14]

Alcohol extract of K. galanga (600 and 1200 mg/kg) administered to hot plate and tail-flick rats showed significant (p<0.001) analgesic activity compared to standard drug codeine (5 mg/kg) and vehicle control. [15]

Wound healing activity

Alcohol extract of K. galanga rhizome administered orally to Wistar rats demonstrated enhanced wound healing activity by using three model studies incision, excision and dead space wound. It was shown that the extract also was able to reverse the effects of dexamethasone. The extract was significantly (p<0.05) increased the percentage wound contraction, significantly (p<0.001) increased the breaking strength, reduced time required for epithelization and reversed the epithelialization delaying effect of dexamethasone. [17]

Anticarcinogenic activity

Two compounds isolated from K. galanga namely cis-ethyl-p-methoxycinnamate and trans-ethyl-p-methoxycinnamate showed in vitro anticarcinogenic and inhibitory effects in TPA tests or croton oil-induced oedema, ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity in specimen of mouse epidermis and extent of papilloma. [18]

Antiangiogenic activity

Two compounds isolated from n-hexane and ethyl acetate fractions of ethanol extract K. galanga namely trans-ethyl p-methoxycinnamate and kaempferol proved to possess potent antiangiogenic effect on wild-type zebrafish. Trans-ethyl p-methoxycinnamate was found to have stronger effect and inhibited vessel formation on both wild and Tg(fli1a:EGFP)y1-type zebra fish and also inhibit the migration and tube formation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells. It appears to affect multiple molecular targets related to angiogenesis. In vivo study showed that it could block bFGF-induced vessel formation on Mitrigel plug assay. [19]

Vasorelaxant activity

Ethyl cinnamate isolated from the K. galanga rhizome showed vasorelaxant activity on the rat aorta by inhibiting tonic contractions induced by high K+ and phenylephrine in concentration-dependent manner with IC50 values of 0.30 +/- 0.05 mM and 0.38 +/- 0.04 mM, respectively. This inhibitory effect is mediated through inhibition of Ca2+ influx into the vascular cells and release of nitric oxide and protacyclin from the endothelial cells. This vasorelaxant active compound may be isolated by bioassay-guided fractionation. [20] [21]

Hypolipidaemic activity

Ethanol extract of K. galanga rhizome (20 mg/day) administered orally to high cholesterol fed white Wistar rats for duration of 4 weeks was found to be effectively lowered the serum and tissue levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and significantly increased the serum levels of high density lipoproteins (HDL). [22]


Ethanol extract of K. galanga were subjected to conventional pharmacological methods including the Hippocratic screening test and acute and subacute toxicities in rats. Results indicated that the ethanol extract via Hippocratic screening test has central nervous system (CNS) depressant activity. Acute toxicity test did not show any mortality at 5 g/kg dose and there were no effects on body and organ weights neither any gross abnormalities nor histopathological changes in the organs. Subacute studies carried out over 28 days with varying dosages also did not show any mortality or significant changes in body and organ weights. Haematological test were normal except for the differential leucocyte counts which showed significant decrease in lymphocyte count in the 50 and 100 mg/kg male rat group. There were no significant changes in the blood chemistry at all levels of testing in the subacute studies. [23]

Teratogenic effects


No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation


  1. Khare CP. Indian Herbal Remedies: Rational Western Therapy, Ayurvedic, and other Traditional Usage and Botany. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2004 pg. 275
  2. Seidemann J., World Spices Plants: Economic usage, Botany, Taxonomy. Springer-Verlag, Berlin 2005 pg. 191
  3. Gyatso T., Hakim C., Essentials of Tibetan Traditional Medicine, North Atlantic Books Berkeley 2010 pg. 223
  4. Kimura T. International Collation of Traditional and Folk Medicine Northeast Asia Part II, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., Singapore 1997 pg. 209
  5. Zakaria M., Mohammed MA., Traditional Malay Medicinal Plants, Institute Terjemahan Negara Malaysia Berhad, Kuala Lumpur 2010 pg. 133
  6. Peter KV., Handbook of Herbs and Spices Volume 2, Woodhead Publishing, Cambridge, 2004  pg. 83 – 85
  7. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Kaempferia galanga L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 26; cited 2015 Jun 08]. Available from:
  8. Khare CP. Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illutrated Dictionary Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2007 pg. 351
  9. Wang FL, Luo JG, Wang XB, Kong LY. A pair of sulfonated diarylheptanoid epimers from Kaempferia galanga. Chin J Nat Med. 2013 Mar;11(2):171-6. doi: 10.1016/S1875-5364(13)60045-X.
  10. Ko HJ, Kim HJ, Kim SY, Yun HY, Baek KJ, Kwon NS, Wan Kyun Whang, Choi HR, Park KC, Kim DS. Hypopigmentary Effects of Ethyl P-Methoxycinnamate Isolated from Kaempferia galanga. Phytother Res. 2013 Apr 23. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4995. [Epub ahead of print]
  11. Ibrahim H. Kaempferia galanga L In: de Padua LS, Bunyapraphatsara N, Lemmens RHMJ, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 334-335.

  12. Huang L, Yagura T, Chen S. Sedative activity of hexane extract of Keampferia galanga L. and its active compounds. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008 Oct 30;120(1):123-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2008.07.045. Epub 2008 Aug 8.
  13. Sulaiman MR, Zakaria ZA, Daud IA, Ng FN, Ng YC, Hidayat MT. Antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activities of the aqueous extract of Kaempferia galanga leaves in animal models. J Nat Med. 2008 Apr;62(2):221-7. doi: 10.1007/s11418-007-0210-3. Epub 2007 Nov 29.
  14. Ridtitid W, Sae-Wong C, Reanmongkol W, Wongnawa M. Antinociceptive activity of the methanolic extract of Kaempferia galanga Linn. in experimental animals. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008 Jul 23;118(2):225-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2008.04.002. Epub 2008 Apr 11.
  15. Vittalrao AM, Shanbhag T, Kumari M, Bairy KL, Shenoy S. Evaluation of antiinflammatory and analgesic activities of alcoholic extract of Kaempferia galanga in rats. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2011 Jan-Mar;55(1):13-24.
  16. Umar MI, Asmawi MZ, Sadikun A, Atangwho IJ, Yam MF, Altaf R, Ahmed A. Bioactivity-guided isolation of ethyl-p-methoxycinnamate, an anti-inflammatory constituent, from Kaempferia galanga L. extracts. Molecules. 2012 Jul 23;17(7):8720-34. doi: 10.3390/molecules17078720.
  17. Tara Shanbhag V, Chandrakala S, Sachidananda A, Kurady BL, Smita S, Ganesh S. Wound healing activity of alcoholic extract of Kaempferia galanga in Wistar rats. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2006 Oct-Dec;50(4):384-90.
  18. Xue Y, Chen H. [Study on the anti-carcinogenic effects of three compounds in Kaempferia galanga L]. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2002 Aug;31(4):247-8, 251.
  19. He ZH, Yue GG, Lau CB, Ge W, But PP. Antiangiogenic effects and mechanisms of trans-ethyl p-methoxycinnamate from Kaempferia galanga L. J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Nov 14;60(45):11309-17. doi: 10.1021/jf304169j. Epub 2012 Nov 5.
  20. Othman R, Ibrahim H, Mohd MA, Awang K, Gilani AU, Mustafa MR. Vasorelaxant effects of ethyl cinnamate isolated from Kaempferia galanga on smooth muscles of the rat aorta. Planta Med. 2002 Jul;68(7):655-7.
  21. Othman R, Ibrahim H, Mohd MA, Mustafa MR, Awang K. Bioassay-guided isolation of a vasorelaxant active compound from Kaempferia galanga L. Phytomedicine. 2006 Jan;13(1-2):61-6. Epub 2005 Jun 27.
  22. Achuthan CR, Padikkala J. Hypolipidemic effect of Alpinia galanga (Rasna) and Kaempferia galanga (Kachoori). Indian J Clin Biochem. 1997 Dec;12(1):55-8. doi: 10.1007/BF02867956
  23. Kanjanapothi D, Panthong A, Lertprasertsuke N, Taesotikul T, Rujjanawate C,Kaewpinit D, Sudthayakorn R, Choochote W, Chaithong U, Jitpakdi A, Pitasawat B. Toxicity of crude rhizome extract of Kaempferia galanga L. (Proh Hom). J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Feb;90(2-3):359-65.
  24. Kamaruddin, H. (2005). Cekur (Kaempferia galanga L.). In: Penanaman tumbuhan ubatan & beraroma. (Musa, Y., Muhammad Ghawas, M. and Mansor, P., ed.). Serdang: MARDI, pp 8-13

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