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Etlingera elatior (Jack) R.M. Smitha


Phaeomeria speciosa Koord, Phaemoria imperialis Lindl, Phaeomeria  magnifica K. Schum, Nicolaia speciosa Horan, Nicolaia elatior (Jack) Horan [2]

Vernacular Names:

Malaysia: Kantan, Tepus Kampung
English: Torch Ginger, Ginger Flower [2]
Javanese: Kecumbrang, Kecombrang, Cumbrang, Combrang
Sundanese: Honje
Thailand: Kaalaa [2]

General Information


Etlingera elatior is a native herb in Malaysia. It is cultivated in abundance in the gardens for its young flower shoots and its half ripe fruiting shoots, which are used in the curries. The ripe seeds are eaten uncooked. [1]

Plant Part Used

Fruit, leaf [1]

Chemical Constituents

In an analysis of essential oils of leaves, stems, flowers and rhizomes of E. elatior, the percentage yield of volatile constituents were found to be 0.0735%, 0.0029%, 0.0334% and 0.0021%, respectively. The leaf essential oil contained β-pinene (19.7%), caryophyllene (15.4%) and (E)-β-farnesene (27.9%) as major compounds whereas the stem essential oil  consisted of largely 1,1-dodecanediol diacetate (34.3%) and (E)-5-dodecane (27.0%). The essential oils of the flowers and rhizomes contained the major compounds 1,1-dodecanediol diacetate (24.4% and 40.4% respectively) and cyclododecane (47.3% and 34.4% respectively). [3]

A previous study reported that the major components identified in the oils of inflorescence and inflorescence axis of E. elatior from Brazil were dodecanol (42.5%, 34.6%), dodecanal (14.5%, 21.5%) and α-pinene (22.2%, 6.3%), respectively. [4]

Flavonoids in the leaves of E. elatior have been identified as kaempferol 3-glucuronide, quercetin 3-glucuronide, quercetin 3-glucoside, and quercetin 3-rhamnoside. Flavonoid content of its inflorescences has been estimated to be 286 and 21mg of kaempferol and quercetin (per kg dry weight), respectively. The phytochemical studies on rhizomes of the plant revealed two new and six known compounds: 1,7-bis(4-hydoxyphenyl)-2,4,6-heptatrienone, demethoxycurcumin, 1,7-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)-1,4,6-heptatrien-3-one, 16-hydroxylabda-8(17),11,13-trien-15,16-olide, stigmast-4-en-3one, stigmast-4-ene-3,6-dione, stimast-4-en-6β-ol-3-one, and 5α,8α-epidioxyergosta-6,22-dien-3β-ol. [5]

Traditional Used:

The decoction of the fruit may be dropped into the ear to treat otalgia while the decoction of the leaves may be used to clean wounds. The plant is also claimed as a remedy for hypertension and diabetes. [1]

Pre-Clinical Data


Antioxidant and antibacterial activity

Recently, methanolic extracts from fresh leaves of five Etlingera species were screened for total phenolic content (TPC), anti-oxidant activity (AOA), and antibacterial activity. Analysis of TPC was achieved by the Folin-Ciocalteu method. Evaluations of AOA included 1,1-DPPH free radical-scavenging ability, ferric-reducing antioxidant power (FRAP), ferrous-ion chelating ability, and β-carotene bleaching activity. The antibacterial activity was screened using the disc-diffusion method. Highest TPC, ascorbic acid equivalent anti-oxidant capacity (AEAC), and FRAP were found in leaves of E. elatior and E. rubrostriata. The ranking of TPC and AOA of different plant parts of E. elatior was in the order: leaves> inflorescences>rhizomes. The leaves of highland populations of Etlingera species showed higher TPC and AEAC values compared to those from lowlands. The leaves of Etlingera species inhibited Gram-positive but not Gram-negative bacteria. For all five Etlingera species, leaves showed stronger antibacterial activity than did rhizomes. [5]

Diarylheptanoids compounds isolated from the ethyl acetate extract of E. elatior were found to inhibit lipid peroxidation in a more potent manner than α-tocopherol. [6]

Antimicrobial activity

The aqueous ethanolic extracts from the flower shoots of E. elatior have antimicrobial activity and are cytotoxic to HeLa cells. [5]

Antitumour-promoting and cytotoxic activity

The preliminary screening showed both CHCl3 and MeOH extracts of E. elatior possessed high antitumour-promoting activity, with 92.2% and 85.9% inhibition rate, respectively. Both hexane and ethyl acetate extracts were cytotoxic against Raji cell at initial concentration of 200 mg/ml. The five fractions of CHCl3 extract showed strong anti-tumour promoting activity. The result suggested that the 3-keto steroids displayed high anti-tumour promoting activity. The ethyl acetate extract was found to show a significant cytotoxicity to both CEM-SS (IC50 4mg/ml) and MCF-7 (IC50 6.25mg/ml). [7]


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

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  1) Cultivation


    1. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur. Compendium of Medicinal Plants Used in Malaysia. 2002. 1:326-327.
    2. Etlingera elatior: Information from, Accessed on 6 June 2007.
    3. Faridahanim Mohd Jaafar et al. Analysis of Essential Oils of Leaves, Stems, Flowers and Rhizomes of Etlingera elatior (Jack) R.M. Smith. The Malaysian Journal of Analytical Sciences. 11. 2007. (1): 269-273.
    4. Zoghbi, M.G.B. et al. Volatiles of the Etlingera elatior (Jack) R.M. Sm. and Zingiber spectabile Griff.: Two Zingeberaceae Cultivated in the Amazon. J. Essential Oil Res.2005. accessed on 16 January 2008.
    5. Chan, E.W.C., Lim, Y.Y. & Mohammed Omar. Antioxidant and antibacterial activity of leaves of Etlingera species (Zingeberaceae) in Peninsular Malaysia. Food Chemistry. 2007. 104:1586-1593, and references cited therein.
    6. Habsah Mohamad et al. Antioxidative Constituents of Etlingera elatior. J. Nat. Prod. 2005. 68 (2): 285-288. Abstract.
    7. Habsah M, et al. Antitumour-promoting and Cytotoxic Constituents of Etlingera elatior. Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences. 2005. 12 (1): 6-12.

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