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Family Zingiberaceae
Langkawas na pula
Alpinia zerumbet (Pers.) B.L.Burtt & R.M.Sm.

Da cao kou

Scientific names  Common names
Alpinia cristata Griff. Langkauas na pula (Tag.)
Alpinia fimbriata Gagnep. Langkawas na pula (Tag.)
Alpinia fluvitialis Hayata Common shell ginger (Engl.)
Alpinia schumanniana Valeton Light galangal (Engl.)
Alpinia zerumbet (Pers.) B.L.Burtt & R.M.Sm. Pink porcelain lily (Engl.)
Alpinia zerumbet Pers. Shell flower (Engl.)
Amomum nutans (Andrews) Schult. Shell ginger (Engl.)
Catimbium speciosum (J.C.Wendl.) Holttum  
Costus zerumbet Pers.  
Languas schumanniana (Valeton) Sasaki  
Languas speciosa (J. C. Wendl.) Sm.  
Renealmia nutans Andrews  
Renealmia spectabilis Rusby  
Zerumbet speciosum J.C.Wendl.  
Languas speciosa Merr. is a synonym of Alpinia zerumbet (Pers.) B.L.Burtt & R.M.Sm. The Plant List
Alpinia zerumbet (Pers.) B.L.Burtt & R.M.Sm. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
BRAZIL: Colonia.
CHINESE: Yan shan jiang, Chui hu shian jiang, Da cao kou.
FRENCH: Atoumau (Martiniuqe).
INDONESIA: Galoba merah, Goloba koi, Langkuas laki-laki.
RUSSIAN: Al'piniia prekrasnaia.
THAI: Kha khom.
VIETNAMESE: Gừng ấm, Riềng ấm, Riềng đẹp, Sẹ nước.

Langkauas na pula is a tall, leafy, perennial herb, growing to 2 to 3 meters tall. Stems are reed-like, 0.4 to 1 meters high. Leaves are lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, 60 to 70 centimeters long, 8 to 10 centimeters wide, smooth on both sides with hairy margins. Inflorescence is nodding and about 30 centimeters long. White calyx is subcampanulate, about 1.8 centimeters long. Corolla tube is white and about 3 centimeters long; the red lobes are broadly elliptic, and about 3 centimeters long. Lip is broad, ovate and about 4 centimeters long, yellow with red striations and dots. Capsule is somewhat spherical, about 2 centimeters in diameter, and reddish.

- Cultivated for ornamental purposes in gardens.
- Not a native of the Philippines.
- Also occurs in China, Japan.
- Cultivated in other warm countries.

- The main constituents of the volatile oil from the leaves are d-camphor (30%) and d-camphene (17%), with lineol and limonene in smaller amounts.
- Seeds contain 0.51% essential oils comprised of monoterpenoids, oxygenated monoterpenoids, sesquiterpenoids, oxygenated sesquiterpenoids, aldehydes, acid and esters.
- Preliminary screening of rhizomes and leaves yielded volatile oils and flavonoids. GC-MS yielded 1,8-cineole and terpinen-4-ol as major compounds in the essential oil of leaves and rhizomes respectively.

- Alpinia zerumbet is aromatic in all its parts.
- Considered analgesic, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-platelet, antispasmodic, diuretic, hypotensive, muscle relaxant, uterine stimulant.
- Rhizome considered abortifacient.
- Studies have suggested antioxidant, hypolipidemic, antihypertensive, antinociceptive, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-psychotic, vasorelaxant properties.

Parts used
Stems, leaves.

Edibility / Nutrition
In Ambonia, leaves are used as wrappers in cooking rice.
In Malaysia, the pith of the young stem near the rhizome is commonly eaten.
• Decoction of leaves used as bath and wash in fevers.
• In Brazilian folk medicine, used as decoctions and infusions for intestinal and cardiovascular disease – as a diuretic, antihypertensive, antiulcerogenic.

Antihypertensive / Cardiovascular Effects / Essential Oil:
Study showed the intravenous treatment with the essential oil of A zerumbet and its main constituent terpine-4-ol in the experimental hypertensive rat dose dependently decreased blood pressure giving further support to a previous hypothesis of its hypotensive effect partially attributable to the actions terpenene-4-ol. (2)
Antinociceptive / Essential Oil: Study showed the essential oil of Alpinia zerumbet promoted a dose-dependent antinociceptive effect through a mechanism that probably involves the participation of opiate receptors. (
Sciatic Nerve Effect: Study of the essential oil of AZ on rat sciatic nerve showed significantly reduced compound action potential. (
HDL / Lipid Benefits: Study showed the high contents of rutin, quercetin and polyphenolics in ethanolic extract of AZ seeds exhibited moderate antilipoperoxidative and potent DPPH free radical scavenging activities. Both seed powder and seed oil are effective hypolipidemics with potent HDL-C elevating capabilities and offers a promising lipid-benefiting plant medicine.
Flavonoids / Kava Pyrones: Study yielded flavonoids and kava pyrones. The flavonoids rutin, kaempferol-3-0-rutino-side, kaempferol-3-O-glucuronide, (+)-catechin (-)-epicatechin are substances known to contribute hypotensive, diuretic and anti-ulcer activity while the kava pyrones have been attributed antiulcer and antithrombotic benefits. These compounds may explain the use of the plant in the treatment of hypertension. (
Antihypertensive / Vasodilator: Study showed chronic administration of AZ induced significant reduction of systolic, mean, and diastolic arterial pressure in rats with DOCA-salt hypertension. The vasodilator effect is probably dependent on the activation of NO-cGMP pathway. The results provide experimental support for its use as an antihypertensive medicinal plant. (9)
DK / Effect on Skin Diseases-Related Enzymes / Antioxidant: Study isolated 5,6-dehydrokawain (DK), dihydro-5,6-dehydrokawain (DDK) and 8(17),12-labdadiene-15,16-dial (labdadiene) from the rhizomes. DK showed higher inhibitory activities on DPPH, ABTS, and PMS-NADH scavenging assays. DK can be used as a potent inhibitor against enzymes responsible for skin diseases. (13)
Antidiabetic / Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) Inhibitors: Study evaluated the inhibitory activities on fructosamine adduct and a-dicarbonyl formulations by hexane extracts. Labdadiene, isolated for the first time from the rhizomes, showed to be a potent antiglycation agent that inhibits AGEs, with the potential to prevent glycation-associated complications in diabetes. (1
Veterinary Larvicidal / Gastrointestinal Nematodes: Study showed dose-dependent effect inhibitory activity on Haemonchus contortus larvae hatching and exsheathing. (1
Antiatherogenic / Anti-LDL Oxidation / Seeds: Study of acetone extracts from different plant parts were evaluated for its inhibitory activity on atherosclerosis in vitro. The seed extract showed the strongest activity against tyrosinase, pancreatic lipase, 15-lipoxygenase and LDL oxidation activities. Most of the extracts showed partial agonistic properties towards estrogenic activity. (1
Antipsychotic / Antioxidant: Study evaluated the antipsychotic, hypnotic, myorelaxant, and antioxidant effects of essential oil on ketamine-induced hyperlocomotion in mice. Results showed prevention of hyperlocomotion, hypnotic activity, and decreased antioxidative stress. Results suggest antipsychotic and antioxidant effects with a potential for the treatment of schizophrenia. (17)
Longevity-Extending Effects: Study of a leaf extract on Caenorhabditis elegans lifespan under both normal and stress conditions showed increased in survival rate better than quercetin. The effect was attributed to in vitro free-radical scavenging effects and up-regulation of stress-resistance proteins. Results suggest C. elegans has a potential as dietary supplements for aging and age-related diseases.(1
Endothelium-Dependent Vasorelaxant Effects: Study in rat-isolated aorta preparations evaluated the vasorelaxant effects of essential oils and its main constituent, 1,8-cineole (CIN). Results conclude that EOAZ induces potent vasorelaxant effect that appears totally dependent on the integrity of a functional vascular endothelium. Data supports its used in the treatment of hypertension.(1
Essential Oil in Fibromyalgia: Study evaluated the effects of a novel bioproduct based on essential oil of AZ on sleep quality, pain, and depression, as well as biochemical markers of disturbances in patients with fibromyalgia. EOAz promoted significant improvement in sleep, depressive symptoms, and quality of life. Results may be due to modulatory activity on serotonin levels of the patients. (
DDK: Dihydro-5,6-dehydrokavain (DDK) is a major and promising component of Az (shell ginger). Study reports on its isolation and synthesis by asymmetric pathways, its simple chemical structure facilitating synthesis of DDK derivatives. Synthesized products have potential for development of commercial products, antiobesity pharmaceutical drugs, preparation of dietary supplements, and natural herbicides or fungicides. (
Antibacterial / Sinusitis: Study evaluated extracts and fractions of flowers from Az against 12 bacterial pathogens associated with sinusitis. A hexane fraction showed broader activity spectrum inhibiting 10 of 12 tested bacteria specially P. gingivalis, F. nucleatum, and F necrophorum. Results showed promising antibacterial activity against bacterial responsible for acute and chronic sinusitis. (
Hypolipidemic / Sinusitis: Study evaluated the hypolipidemic effect of Az angiocarps. Diets were prepared using seed powder (ASP), seed husk powder (ASH) and seed essential oil (ASO). Results showed increased fecal neutral cholesterol excretion and significant reduction of triglycerides. ASH showed greater reduction of LDL. ASO and whole powder of Az have been reported to possess hypolipidemic bioactivity. The effect is attributed to the combined effect of essential oil and the crude fiber. (
Hepatoprotection / Cytotoxicity / Essential Oil: Preliminary phytochemical screening of rhizomes and leaves yielded volatile oil and flavonoids. The LC50 of aqueous extract of dried rhizome powder was more than 1000 µg/ml and a methanol extract of dried rhizome was 500-750 µg/ml. The hepatoprotective activity on monolayer hepatocytes was 100 µg/ml for aqueous extract and 25-50 µg/ml for methanolic extract. On in vitro cytotoxicity testing, an aqueous extract exerted toxicity on U937 cells at 100 µg/ml concentration while it was safe on PBMC cells; a methanolic extract was safe on both U937 and PBMC cells till 100 µg/ml concentration. (see constituents above) (
Thrombolytic Activity: Study of aqueous extracts of A. zerumbet, Alpinia nigra and Urena sinuata showed43.85%, 42.83%, 26.40% thrombolytic activity and also showed 37.14%, 60.00%, 26.83% synergistic activity with streptokinase respectively. (
HIV-1 Integrase and Neuraminidase Inhibitors: Study investigated the leaves and rhizomes of Alpinia zerumbet for activity against HIV-1 integrase (IN) and neuraminidase (NA). 5,6-Dehydrokawain (DK), dihydro-5,6-dehydrokawain (DDK), and 8(17),12-labdadiene-15,16-dial (labdadiene) were isolated from the rhizomes and were tested for enzyme inhibitions. Results showed Az can be a source of bioactive compounds against IN and NA, and that DK and DDK have potentials in the design of drugs against these viral diseases. (


Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Update May 2016

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Antihypertensive effects of the essential oil of Alpinia zerumbet and its main constituent, terpinen-4-ol, in DOCA-salt hypertensive conscious rats / Lahlou, Saad et al / Fundamental & Clinical Pharmacology. 17(3):323-330, June 2003 / DOI: 10.1046/j.1472-8206.2003.00150.x

Cardiovascular Effects of the Essential Oil of Alpinia zerumbet Leaves and its Main Constituent, Terpinen-4-ol, in Rats: Role of the Autonomic Nervous System / Saad Lahlou, Charles Antonio Barros Galindo et al / Planta Med 2002; 68: 1097-1102
DOI: 10.1055/s-2002-36336
Antinociceptive effects of the essential oil of on mice / F.DEARAUJOPINHO / Phytomedicine, Volume 12, Issue 6, Pages 482-486
Effects of essential oil of Alpinia zerumbet on the compound action potential of the rat sciatic nerve / Phytomedicine, Volume 11, Issue 6, Pages 549-553 / J.Leal-Cardoso, M.Moreira, G.Pinto da Cruz, S.de Morais, M.Lahlou, A.Coelho-de-Souza
Alpinia zerumbet potentially elevates high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level in hamsters./ Lin, Li-Yun, Peng, Chiung-Chi et al / J Agric Food Chem / 2008-Jun; vol 56 (issue 12) : pp 4435-43
Biologically active flavonoids and kava pyrones from the aqueous extract of Alpinia zerumbet / PTR. Phytotherapy research / 1998, vol. 12, no6, pp. 442-44 /
Synthesis of (+)-Zerumin B Using a Regioselective Singlet Oxygen Furan Oxidation / Ioannis Margaros and Georgios Vassilikogiannakis / Department of Chemistry, UniVersity of Crete

Shell-Flower (Alpinia zerumbet) / Tropical Plant Database / Raintree
Antihypertensive and endothelium-dependent vasodilator effects of Alpinia zerumbet, a medicinal plant / R S de Moura, A F Emilliano et al / J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2005 Sep;46(3):288-94.
Sorting Alpinia names / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / A Work in Progress / Copyright © 1997 - 2000 The University of Melbourne
Alpinia zerumbet (Pers.) B. L. Burtt et R. M. Sm. (accepted name) / Catalogue of Life, China
Alpinia zerumbet / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED
Effect of Alpinia zerumbet components on antioxidant and skin diseases-related enzymes / Jamnian Chompoo, Atul Upadhyay, Masakazu Fukuta and Shinkichi Tawata* / BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:106 doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-106
Advanced glycation end products inhibitors from Alpinia zerumbet rhizomes / Jamnian Chompoo, Atul Upadhyay, Wataru Kishimoto, Tadahiro Makise, Shinkichi Tawata / Food Chemistry 129 (2011) 709–715
In vitro activity of Lantana camara, Alpinia zerumbet, Mentha villosa and Tagetes minuta decoctions on Haemonchus contortus eggs and larvae. / Macedo IT, Bevilaqua CM, de Oliveira LM, Camurça-Vasconcelos AL, Morais SM, Machado LK, Ribeiro WL. / Vet Parasitol. 2012 Dec 21;190(3-4):504-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2012.07.001. Epub 2012 Jul 11.
Antiatherogenic Properties of Acetone Extract of Alpinia zerumbet Seeds / Jamnian Chompoo 1 , Atul Upadhyay, Shinichi Gima, Masakazu Fukuta and Shinkichi Tawata / Molecules 2012, 17(6), 6237-6248 / doi:10.3390/molecules17066237
Inhibition of ketamine-induced hyperlocomotion in mice by the essential oil of Alpinia zerumbet: possible involvement of an antioxidant effect / de Araújo, F. Y. R., de Oliveira, G. V., Gomes, P. X. L., Soares, M. A., Silva, M. I. G., Carvalho, A. F., de Moraes, M. O., de Moraes, M. E. A., Vasconcelos, S. M. M., Viana, G. S. B., de Sousa, F. C. F. and Macêdo, D. S. / Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 2011, 63: 1103–1110 / doi: 10.1111/j.2042-7158.2011.01312.x
Significant longevity-extending effects of Alpinia zerumbet leaf extract on the life span of Caenorhabditis elegans. / Upadhyay A, Chompoo J, Taira N, Fukuta M, Tawata S. / Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2013;77(2):217-23.
Endothelium-dependent vasorelaxant effects of the essential oil from aerial parts of Alpinia zerumbet and its main constituent 1,8-cineole in rats / Pinto NV, Assreuy AM, Coelho-de-Souza AN, Ceccatto VM, Magalhães PJ, Lahlou S, Leal-Cardoso JH. / Phytomedicine. 2009 Dec;16(12):1151-5. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2009.04.007.
Alpinia zerumbet (Pers.) B.L.Burtt & R.M.Sm. / Synonyms / The Plant List
Effects of the use of Alpinia’s zerumbet essential oil in pa- tients with fibromyalgia / L Almeida de Melo, E Faria Candido, R Albuquerque Ju nior, B De Santana Santos, L Xavier Filho, R Dantas, E Prado, and K Sato / The Journal of Pain (543)
Dihydro-5,6-dehydrokavain (DDK) from Alpinia zerumbet: Its Isolation, Synthesis, and Characterization / Tran Dang Xuan and Rolf Teschke* / Molecules 2015, 20, 16306-16319; / doi:10.3390/molecules200916306
Bioactivity of extracts from Alpinia zerumbet (Pers.) B.L. Burtt & R.M. Sm. against sinusitis causing bacterial pathogens / Grasiela M. Costa; Rodrigo G. Suga; Patrícia L. Oliveira; Paula P. Magalhães; Luiz M. Farias; Lucienir P. Duarte; *Fernando C. Silva. / ETNOFARMACOLOGIA / Capa v. 9, n. 3 (2015) Costa
Hypolipidemic effects of different angiocarp parts of Alpinia zerumbet / Chao Ming Chuang; Hui Er Wang; Chiung Chi Peng; Kuan Chou Chen; Robert Y. Peng / Pharmaceutical Biology, Vol 49, Issue 12, Dec 2011
GC-MS Analysis of the essential oil of Alpinia zerumbet (Pers.) B.L. and in vitro hepatoprotection and cytotoxicity study. MPC-4 / SS El-Hawary, HA Kassem, A Abdel Motaal, WA Tawfik, HM Hassanein, SS El-Shamy / Planta Med 2013; 79 - PI106 / DOI: 10.1055/s-0033-1352195
In vitro thrombolytic assay of Alpinia zerumbet, Alpinia nigra and Urena sinuata / Adnan Mannan*, A. M. Abu Ahmed, Farjana Sharmin, Tuntun Fatema, Mohd. Omar Faruk Sikder / Int. J. Res. Phytochem. Pharmacol., 1(3), 2011, 187-191
HIV-1 Integrase and Neuraminidase Inhibitors from Alpinia zerumbet / Atul Upadhyay, Jamnian Chompoo, Wataru Kishimoto, Tadahirio Makise, and Shinkichi Tawata* / J. Agric. Food Chem., 2011, 59 (7), pp 2857–2862 / DOI: 10.1021/jf104813k

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