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Languas galanga


Alpinia galanga (L.), Amomum galanga Lour., Galanga major Rumph., Languas vulgare Koenig., Maranta galanga Linn. [1]

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Lengkuas
English:  Greater Galangal, Languas, Siamese-ginger, Java galangal
Indonesia:  Langkuas, Langkueueh (Acheh); Laos (Jawa); Laja (Sunda); Halawas (Bakat); Langkuweh (Minang); Lawas (Lampung); Aliku (Bugis); Lingkuwas (Menado)

Gao Liang Jiang, Da-gao-liang-jiang; Hung-dou-kou (Hongkong)

India:  Kalunjan, Bara-kulanjan
Thailand:  Kha, Khaa
Philippines:  Langkuwas, Palla Langkuas
Vietnam:  Rieng, Rieng am, Rieng nep, Hua Kha, Gieng
Japan:  Koryokyo, Ukon, Nankyo-so
Korea:  Hong-du-gu
Arab:  El-galangal, El-adkham
Netherlands:  Geelwortel
France:  Galanga de l’Indie, Grand Galanga, Galanga Majeur
Germany:  Galgant, Echter galgant, Grosser Galgant, Siam- Galgant, Siam-Ingwer, Thai-Ingwer
Spain:  Calanga, Garengal
Italy:  Galanga
Portugal:  Galanga Maior [1]

General Information


Languas galanga is a member of the Zingiberaceae family. It is a deciduous perennial herb that can grow up to 2.5m tall, proliferating from underground rhizomes which are aromatic. The rhizomes are 2.5-10.0cm thick, reddish brown externally and light orange brown internally. The aerial pseudostem is formed by rolled leaf sheaths. The leaves are in two ranks on a stalk. The blades are oblong to lanceolate, measures 25-60cm long and 5-7.5cm wide, minutely hairy on the underside or glabrous. Inflorescence is terminal on the leafy shoot, a panicle measures 9-40cm long, the axis is densely velvety; lower 2-3 bracts are narrow, measures 5-7.5cm long and persistent. The upper bracts are deciduous. The flowers are in clusters of 2-5, greenish white in colour, the labellum often parted at the apex, white with oblique red veins. The fruits are globose capsules in shape measuring about 0.33inch in diameter. [3]

Plant Part Used

Rhizome [1]

Chemical Constituents

Methylcinnamate, cineole, camphor and pinene, l’-acetoxychavicol acetate, l’-acetoxyeugenol acetate, caryophyllene oxide and caryophyllenol I, II, isorhemnetic, kaemferide, galangin, galangin-3-methyl ether, eugenol, galangol, cadinene, tannin, phlobaphenes, starch, cedrol, 1,8-cineole, linalool, a-pinene, b-pinene, fatty acid methyl esters, trans-4-methoxycinnamyl alcohol, n-7-heptadecene, n-pentadecane, trans-3,4-dimethoxycinnamyl alcohol, trans-4-hydroxycinnamaldehyde, borneol, isoborneol, bornyl acetate, camphene, D3-carene, trans-b-cymene, citronellol, p-cymene, a-fenchene, a-fenchol, geranial, geraniol, geranyl acetate, limonene, linalool, trans-2-p-menthen-1-ol, cis-2-p-menthen-1-ol, cis-b-ocimene, a-phellandrene, b-phellandrene, sabinene, trans-sabinene hydrate, a-terpinene, g-terpinene, terpinen-4-ol, a-terpineol, myrcene, neral, terpinolene, a-thujene, b-thujone, tricyclene, a-bergamotent, b-bisabolene, butyl acetate, carveol I, carveol II, chavicol, neryl acetate, chavicol acetate, citronellyl acetate, a-capaene, p-cymenol, ar-cucumene, eugenly acetate, trans-b-farnesene, a-humulene, methyleugenol, 2-methylpropyl acetate, pentadacane, santalene, b-sesquiphellandrene, tridecane, eugenol, l’-acetylchabicol acetate, l’-acetoxyeugenol acetate, l’-hydroxychavicol acetate, p-hydroxy-cinnamaldehyde, [di-(p-hydroxy-cis-styryl)]methane, (E)-8(17),12-labddiene-15,16-dial, (E)-8b(17)-epoxylabd-12-ene-15,16-dial, galanals A-B, galanolactone [1]

Traditional Used:

L. galanga is commonly used in cooking by the people of Southeast Asia. They are aromatic and impart a tangy, spicy aroma to the local cuisine. It is considered as a hot and stimulating herb and is used to enhance digestion in manners almost similar to ginger. Due to this property it has found use in treatment of various diseases epecially those of the alimentary tract.  

L. galanga is considered to be digestive, carminative, stomachic and antispasmodic and had found used in treatment of conditions like flatulance, abdominal distention, abdominal colic, diarrhoea, constipation and dyspepsia. It is also used to stimulate appetite. The rhizome form part of a concoction for the treatment of hepato-splenic affections. [1] 

Another property attributed to L. galanga is expectoration. In traditional medicine of the Malay race, the rhizome is used to treat bronchitis, bronchial asthma, cough with expectoration. For brochial problems small pieces of the rhizome is chewed upon. The leaves and flowered are considered anti-tubercular. [2] 

Arabian physician considered the rhizome as an aphrodisiac and had used it to treat sexual dysfunction both in males and females. It is being prescribe for impotency. [2] In Indonesia and Malaysia it is considered as a sex stimulant and is used to increase libido in married couples. A concoction of the juice from rhizome of galangal and ginger together with lime juice, mixed with pepper, salt and yeast is taken daily. [3] 

One of the common uses of rhizome of L. galanga is in the treatment of various skin afflictions especially of fungal origin. The Indonesians combine the rhizome with garlic in vinegar and used this to rub on ringworms and tinea versicolor. [4] In Malaysia the vinegar is exchanged with kerosene which they believe is more effective. It is also used to treat other infective skin problems. 

The Ayurvedic doctors advocate its use in the treatment of diabetes and obesity. Dried rhizome is reputed for rheumatism and catarrh and is used also to help clear the voice. The rhizome is also believed to be an effective insecticide against houseflies. [1][2] 

Pre-Clinical Data


Antimicrobial activity 

Extracts of rhizome of L. galanga, through phytochemical screening had been found to contain 1’S’-1-acetoxychavicol acetate (ACA). This compound showed significant inhibitory activity against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This compound apparently inhibited the Rev transport at a low concentration by binding to chromosomal region maintenance 1 and accumulating full-length HIV-1 RNA in the nucleus. This results in a block in HIV-1 replication in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. ACA in combination with didanosine acted synergistically to inhibit HIV-1 replication. [5] Study on the structure-activity relationship of ACA and eleven ACA derivatives and concluded that para substitution of the acetocyl and 1’-acetoxypropenyl groups at the benzene ring was essential and the linear ethyl and propyl chainm carbonates were more acitve than branching chain carbonates. Also the substitution of acetoxyl groups with alkyl carbamate groups lost or reduced the activities. The formation of the quinone methide intermediate is essential for exerting the inhibitory activity. Based on this the study were able to sythesize four halogenated anologs which is more potent than ACA in particular the difluoroanalog 20d which showed four-fold potent activity. [6] 

With the indiscriminate use of antibiotics and the lack of patient compliance to their intake many multidrug resistant bacteria had developed over the years. This pose great difficulty in treatment of bacterial infection. Investigators are today actively looking for alternatives in naturally occuring compounds as a new source of lead structures to develop new antibiotics. 1’-acetoxychavicol acetate, a compound isolated from the rhizome of L. galanga showed antimicrobial activity against gram-positive bacteria. [7] This action was found to be due to its ability to cure plasmid encoded antibiotic resistance in various multidrug resistant bacterial strains of clinically isolates such as Enterococcus faecalis, Salmonella typhi, Pseudomonas aeroginosa, Escherichia coli and Bacillus cereus. [8] 

In Malaysia the rhizome of L. galanga had been used in the treatment of dermatoses especially of fungal origin. It is commonly used in the treatment of ringworm and tinea versicolor. The anitfungal activity of the extracts of the rhizome of Languas galanga had been investigated. The essential oil of the rhizome had been found to be active against Trichophyton mentagrophytes and the active principle was found to be acetoxychavicol.7 Another bioactive compound was found to have antifungal activity and it is structurally identified as [E}-8beta,17-epoxylabd-12-ene-15,16-dial. This compound was found to enhance the antifungal activity of quercetin and chalcone against Candida albicans. Its antifungal activity is attributed to a change of membrane permeability arising from membrane lipid alteration. [9][10][11]

Hypoglycaemic activity 

The powdered rhizome of L. galanga, its methanol and aqueous extracts showed significant lowering of blood glucose levels in normal rabbits while no effects was seen in alloxan-diabetic rabbits. [12] 

Antimelanogenesis activity 

Extracts of L. galanga suppressed tyrosinase activity and mRNA levels and UVA-mediated melanin production. It is able to protect against UVA-induced cellular oxidant formation and depletion of CAT and GPx activities and GSH content in a dose-dependent manner. Eugenol was detected to be present in the extract. It is postulated that inhibition of cellular oxidative stress and improving antioxidant defenses might be the mechanism of its protective effects on UVA-dependent melanogenesis. [13] 

Gastroprotective activity 

1'S-1'-acetoxychavicol acetate and 1'S-1'-acetoxyeugenol acetate are two phenylpropaniods isolated from the rhizome of Languas galanga. They exhibited marked inhibition of ethanol-induced gastric mucosal lesions (ED(50)=0.61 and ca. 0.90mg/kg). The effects was duplicated when tested against 0.6 M HCl and aspirin but not with indomethacid. The 1’-acetyl group was reported to be an essential component for their strong activity. It is also reported that endogenous prostaglandins and sulphydryl compoungsd are involved in the protective effects of 1’S-1’-acetoxychavicol acetate. [14] 

Antiallergic activity 

80% aqueous acetone extract of L. galanga was reported to inhbit release of beta-hexosaminidase, a marker of antigen-IgE-mediated degranulation in RBL-2H3 cells. Amongst the nine known phenylpropanoids and p-hydroxybenzaldehyde, 1’S-1’-acetylchavicol acetate and 1’S-1’-acetyleugenol acetate exhibited potent inhibitory activity. The 1’- and 4-acetoxyl groups were found to be essential for their strong activity. These compounds also inhibited ear passive cutaneous anaphylaxis in mice and the antigen-IgE-mediated TNF-alpha and IL-4 production in RBL-2H3 cells. [15] Recently, development of a more potent and stable anologue of 1’S-1’-acetoxychavicol, 4-(methoxycarbonyloxyphenylmethyl)phenyl acetate was made. This compound also strongly inhibited the antigen-IgE-mediated TNF-alpha and IL-4 production. [16] 

Anti-Alzheimer activity

Neuritic plaques is one of the neuropathologic hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. In the central nervous system they are surrounded by activated microglial cells expressing proinflammatory cytokines, chemokines and neurotixic mediators. The long-term activation of microglial cells is suspected to be responsible to the neuron loss in Alzheimer’s disease. Grzana R found that a combined ginger extract (Zingiber officinale + L. galanga) inhibited LPS, cytokine and amyloid Abeta peptide-induced expression of the proinflammatory genes TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, COX-2, MIP-alpha, MCP-1 and IP-10. These findings are suggestive of the usefulness of this combined extract in delaying the onset and the progression of neurodegenerative disorders involving chronically acivated microglial cells in the central nervous system. [17] 

Cytotoxic activity 

The search for a novel compound for the treatment of cancer had lead to the study on the anticarcinogenic properties in L. galanga. A screening program for cytotoxicity in plants from Malaysia and Thailand had shown 1’acetoxychavicol acetate isolated from L. galanga from Thailand was shown to inhibit COR L23 and MCF7 cell growth. [18] A crude aqueous extract of the rhizome was tested against six different human cell lines including normal and p53-inactive fibroblasts. Preliminary results did not show evidence of preferntial cytotoxicity fo tumour cells, however there was indication that p53-active cell lines may be more sensitive than the p53-inactive cells. Apoptosis was only observed at exposure to 300 microg/ml of the extract. At concentration of as little as 100 microg/ml the extract generated signficant level of DNA single-strand break. The presence of 1’-acetoxychavicol and its deacetylaed derivatives was not responsible for the cytotoxicity induced by the complete aqueous extract. [19] Study reported that galangin showed anticancer activity by inducing morphorlogical changes which included nuclear chromatin condensation and florescence strength. The activity of Caspase-9, -6 and -3 value was peaked at 6h, 12h and 18h respectively. This showed that the apoptotic action of galangin on VEL-7402 was via the mitochondrial pathway. [20] 

Anti-oxidant activity 

I’S-1’acetoxychavicol acetate had been shown to have inhibitory effect on NO production in lipopolysaccharide-activated mouse peritoneal macrophages. Studies determined the structure activity relationship where the para or ortho substitution of the acetoxyl and 1-acetoxypropenyl groups at the benzene ring was essential, the S configuration of the 1’-acetoxyl group was preferable, the presence of the 3-methoxyl group and the disappearance of the 2’-3’ double bond by hydorgenation reduced the activity, the substitution of acetyl groups with propionyl or methyl groups reduced the activity and the lengthening of the carbon chain between the 1’- and 2’- positions reduced the activity. [21] They were also successful in isolating more antioxidants which include three new 8-9’ linked neolgnans, galanganal, galanganols A and B, and a sesquineolgnan, galangonal C together with nine known phenulpropanoids and p-hydroxybenzaldehyde. Among them, galanganal (IC50=68 microM), galanganols B (88 microM) and C (33 microM), 1'S-1'-acetoxychavicol acetate (2.3 microM), 1'S-1'-acetoxyeugenol acetate (11 microM), trans-p-hydroxycinnamaldehyde (ca. 20 microM), trans-p-coumaryl alcohol (72 microM), and trans-p-coumaryl diacetate (19 microM) were found to show inhibitory activity. [22] 

Anti-inflammatory activity 

The Zingiberaceae especially the genus Zingiber and Alpinia (Languas) is know to have very potent anti-inflammatory activity. In early 1970’s it was confirmed that the anti-inflammatory effects was due to its action on prostaglandin biosynthesis. This effects occures via inhibition of cyclo-oxygenase-1 and cyclo-oxigenase-2 enzymes. They also supresses leukotriene biosynthesis by inhibiting 5-lipoxyugenase. More recent discovery cite the inhibition of induction of several genes involved in the inflammatory process. These include genes encoding cytokines, chemokines and the inducible enzyme cyclo-oxygenase-2. This has shed light on the evidence that ginger modulates biochemical pathways activated in chronic inflammation and information useful for studies in experimental animals and humans. [23] A clinical trial on the efficacy of the combination of Zingiber officinale and L. galanga on pain relieve in osteoarthritic patients was done. It was found that the highly purified and standardized ginger extract had a significant effect on reducing symptoms of OA of the knee. This effect was moderate with good safety profile especially on the GI adverse events. [24] Phan showed that this combination inhibits chemokine experssion and the copmbination acts synergistically to suppress inflammation due to arthritis. [25] [26]


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

It was reported that a localized contact dermatitis with subsequent generalized erythema multiforme-liked eruption occurred in an individual following topical application of a herbal remedy. Patch tests showed the presence of an allergen in fresh and dried Alpinia galanga. [27]


  1. Dr. M. Daniel. Medicinal plants: chemistry and properties. New Hampshire : Science Publishers; 2006.62–63.
  2. S. Harbans. Puri Rasayana: ayurvedic herbs for longevity and rejuvenation. Boca Raton: CRC Press; 2002.180–182.
  3. A.N.S. Thomas. Tanaman obat tradisional.2. Yogyakarta: Penerbit Kanisius; 1992.77–78.
  4. F.M. Ir.. Temu-temuan & empon-empon, budi daya dan manfaatnya. Yogyakarta: Penerbit Kanisius; 1999.51–52.
  5. Y. Ye, B. Li. 1'S-1'-acetoxychavicol acetate isolated from Alpinia galanga inhibits human immunodeficiency virus type 1 replication by blocking Rev transport. J Gen Virol. Jul2006;87(Pt 7):2047-2053.
  6. S. Tamura, A. Shiomi, T. Kimura, N. Murakami. Halogenated analogs of 1'-acetoxychavicol acetate, Rev-export inhibitor from Alpinia galanga, designed from mechanism of action. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 1Apr2010;20(7):2082-2085.
  7. A.M. Janssen, J.J. Scheffer. Acetoxychavicol Acetate, an Antifungal Component of Alpinia galanga. Planta Med. Dec1985;51(6):507-511.
  8. C. Latha, V.D. Shriram, S.S. Jahagirdar, P.K. Dhakephalkar, S.R. Rojatkar. Antiplasmid activity of 1'-acetoxychavicol acetate from Alpinia galanga against multi-drug resistant bacteria. J Ethnopharmacol. 25Jun2009;123(3):522-525.
  9. H. Haraguchi, Y. Kuwata, K. Inada, K. Shingu, K. Miyahara, M. Nagao, A. Yagi. Antifungal activity from Alpinia galanga and the competition for incorporation of unsaturated fatty acids in cell growth. Planta Med. Aug1996;62(4):308-313.
  10. C.E. Ficker, M.L. Smith, S. Susiarti, D.J. Leaman, C. Irawati, J.T. Arnason. Inhibition of human pathogenic fungi by members of Zingiberaceae used by the Kenyah (Indonesian Borneo). J Ethnopharmacol. Apr 2003;85(2-3):289-293.
  11. S. Phongpaichit, S. Subhadhirasakul, C. Wattanapiromsakul. Antifungal activities of extracts from Thai medicinal plants against opportunistic fungal pathogens associated with AIDS patients. Mycoses. Sep2005;48(5):333-338.
  12. M.S. Akhtar, M.A. Khan, M.T. Malik. Hypoglycaemic activity of Alpinia galanga rhizome and its extracts in rabbits. Fitoterapia. Dec2002;73(7-8):623-628.
  13. U. Panich, K. Kongtaphan, T. Onkoksoong, K. Jaemsak, R. Phadungrakwittaya, A. Thaworn, P. Akarasereenont, A. Wongkajornsilp. Modulation of antioxidant defense by Alpinia galanga and Curcuma aromatica extracts correlates with their inhibition of UVA-induced melanogenesis. Cell Biol Toxicol. Apr2010;26(2):103-116.
  14. H. Matsuda, Y. Pongpiriyadacha, T. Morikawa, M. Ochi, M. Yoshikawa. Gastroprotective effects of phenylpropanoids from the rhizomes of Alpinia galanga in rats: structural requirements and mode of action. Eur J Pharmacol. 13Jun2003;471(1):59-67.
  15. H. Matsuda, T. Morikawa, H. Managi, M. Yoshikawa. Antiallergic principles from Alpinia galanga: structural requirements of phenylpropanoids for inhibition of degranulation and release of TNF-alpha and IL-4 in RBL-2H3 cells. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 6Oct2003;13(19):3197-3202.
  16. T. Yasuhara, Y. Manse, T. Morimoto, W. Qilong, H. Matsuda, M. Yoshikawa, O. Muraoka. Acetoxybenzhydrols as highly active and stable analogues of 1'S-1'-acetoxychavicol, a potent antiallergic principal from Alpinia galanga. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 1Jun2009;19(11):2944-2946.
  17. R. Grzanna, P. Phan, A. Polotsky, L. Lindmark, C.G. Frondoza. Ginger extract inhibits beta-amyloid peptide-induced cytokine and chemokine expression in cultured THP-1 monocytes. J Altern Complement Med. Dec2004;10(6):1009-1013.
  18. C.C. Lee, P. Houghton. Cytotoxicity of plants from Malaysia and Thailand used traditionally to treat cancer. J Ethnopharmacol. 14Sep2005;100(3):237-243.
  19. P. Muangnoi, M. Lu, J. Lee, A. Thepouyporn, R. Mirzayans, X.C. Le, M. Weinfeld, S. Changbumrung. Cytotoxicity, apoptosis and DNA damage induced by Alpinia galanga rhizome extract. Planta Med. Jul 2007;73(8):748-754.
  20. H. Luo, C. Ma, Y.J. Wang, J. Chen, J.Q. Liu, H.T. Zhang. Study on apoptosis of BEL-7402 cells induced by galangin. Zhong Yao Cai. Aug2008;31(8):1204-1207.
  21. H. Matsuda, S. Ando, T. Morikawa, S. Kataoka, M. Yoshikawa. Structure-activity relationships of 1'S-1'-acetoxychavicol acetate for inhibitory effect on NO production in lipopolysaccharide-activated mouse peritoneal macrophages. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 1Apr2005;15(7):1949-1953.
  22. T. Morikawa, S. Ando, H. Matsuda, S. Kataoka, O. Muraoka, M. Yoshikawa. Inhibitors of nitric oxide production from the rhizomes of Alpinia galanga: structures of new 8-9' linked neolignans and sesquineolignan. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). Jun2005;53(6):625-630.
  23. R. Grzanna, L. Lindmark, C.G. Frondoza. Ginger--an herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions. J Med Food. Summer2005;8(2):125-132.
  24. R.D. Altman, K.C. Marcussen. Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum. Nov2001;44(11):2531-2538.
  25. P.V. Phan, A. Sohrabi, A. Polotsky, D.S. Hungerford, L. Lindmark, C.G. Frondoza. Ginger extract components suppress induction of chemokine expression in human synoviocytes. J Altern Complement Med. Feb2005;11(1):149-154.
  26. T. Phitak, K. Choocheep, P. Pothacharoen, W. Pompimon, B. Premanode, P. Kongtawelert. The effects of p-hydroxycinnamaldehyde from Alpinia galanga extracts on human chondrocytes. Phytochemistry. Jan2009;70(2):237-243.
  27. S.J. Hong, C.H. Chang. Erythema multiforme-like generalized allergic contact dermatitis caused by Alpinia galanga. Contact Dermatitis. Feb2006;54(2):118-120

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