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Family Zingiberaceae
Cheilocostus speciosus (J.Koenig) C.D.Specht

Zuang liu tou

Scientific names  Common names 
Amomum arboreum Lour. Tabubungiaw (Bis.) 
Amomum hirsutum Lam. Crepe ginger (Engl.) 
Banksea speciosa J.Koenig Spiral ginger (Engl.) 
Cardamomum arboreum (Lour.) Kuntze Wild ginger (Engl.)
Cheilocostus speciosus (J.Koenig) C.D.Specht  
Costus angustifolius Ker Gawl.  
Costus argyrophyllus Wall. [Invalid]  
Costus crispiflorus Stokes  
Costus foeniculaceus Noronha  
Costus formosanus Nakai  
Costus glaber (K.Schum.) Merr.  
Costus hirsutus Blume  
Costus lamingtonii F.M.Bailey  
Costus loureiroi Horan.  
Costus nipalensis Roscoe  
Costus potierae F.Muell.  
Costus sericeus Blume  
Costus speciosus (J.Koenig) Sm.  
Costus vaginalis Salisb.  
Hellenia grandiflora Retz.  
Kaempferia speciosa (J.Koenig) Thunb.  
Planera speciosa (J.Koenig) Giseke  
Tsiana speciosa (J.Koenig) J.F.Gmel.  
Costus speciosus (J.Koenig) Sm. is a synonym of Cheilocostus speciosus (J.Koenig) C.D.Specht The Plant List
Cheilocostus speciosus (J.Koenig) C.D.Specht is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Zhang liu tou.
FRENCH: Costus elegant.
GERMAN: Kostus, Kostwurz, Kreppingwer, Prachtige kostwurz, Pritge kostwurz.
GUJARATI: Pakarmula.
HINDI: Kusht, Keokanda, Keukand.
KANNADA: Changalakoshta, Changalkashta.
MALAY: Setawar, Tawar tawar, Tebu.
MALAYALAM: Anakua, Koshtam.
SANSKRIT: Pushkarmula, Kemuka, Kottam, Kustha, Shura.
SPANISH: Caña de la India, Oriunda de la India.
TAMIL: Kostam, Kottam.
TELUGU: Kevukinna.
THAI: Kushta, Ueang phet maa.
VIETNAMESE: Cây cu chóc, Cu choc, Cat loi, Mia do, Se vona.

Cheilocostus speciosus is a plant with stout, leafy stems up to 2 meters or more in height, and 1.6 centimeters in diameter. Leaves are spirally arranged, oblong, 15 to 30 centimeters long, with pointed tip, short stalks and covered with soft hairs on the lower surface. Flowers are in very dense, solitary spikes. Spikes are terminal, ovoid, 5 to 10 centimeters long; purple bracts are ovate, 2.5 to 4.5 centimeters long. Calyx is flattened, purple, 3 to 5 centimeters long, with short, ovate lobes. Corolla segments are white, oblong, 4 to 6 centimeters long, lip white, suborbicular, 6 to 8 centimeters long, wrinkled, irregularly and rather finely toothed, the margins incurved and meeting. Stamen is flat, and including the broad petaloid connective is about 5 centimeters long and 12 to 15 centimeters wide. Fruits are capsules, ovoid to rounded, 1.5 to 2 centimeters long, red, crowned by the persistent calyx.

Widely cultivated as an ornamental plant, sometimes escaping from cultivation.

- Acidic-refrigerant, slightly toxic (especially the fresh material).
- Diuretic, antiphlogistic, antidote, antipyretic, antidermatosis., cooling, sudorific.
- Roots are bitter, astringent, stimulant, digestive, anthelmintic, depurative and aphrodisiac.

- Studies have shown antioxidant, hypolipidemic, anti-diabetic, antispasmodic, hepatoprotective, anticholinesterase properties.

- Study of roots yielded two new compounds, G and H, characterized as 8-hydroxytriaconta-25-one and Me-tritriacontanoat. (6)
- Hexane extract isolated two sesquiterpenoide, costunolide and eremanthin. (see study below) (18)
- Phytochemical screening showed rhizomes are rich in primary and secondary metabolites such as carbohydrates, alkaloids, vitamin C, vitamin E, flavonoids, phenols, glycosides, saponins, and minerals like Zn, Cu, Mn, Se, and Fe. (see study below) (20)
- Study of different parts of the plant showed total protein content of 99.45 µg/ml leaf, 86.938 µg/ml stem, and 57.94 µg/ml rhizomes; carbohydrate content was 25.97 µg/ml leaf, 20.72 µg/ml stem, and 27.63 µg/ml rhizome. Saponin, tannin, steroid, flavanoid, and phenol were also present. (22)

Parts utilized
Rhizome and stems.

- Used as a spice, like ginger.
- In the Visayas, juice of stems used for dysentery.
- In India, the rhizome has been used as famine food. Plant used for the treatment of fever, headache and ear pain.
- Roots used for catarrhal fevers, coughs, dyspepsia, worms and skin diseases.
- In Malaya, juice of rhizome used as purgative.
- In Java, rhizome has reported use for syphilis.
- Used for nephritis-beriberi-edema due to hardening (sclerosis) of the liver, difficulty in urination, pricking pain in the urinary tract.
- Used for whooping cough.
- Dried or fresh material decoction may be used as external application for nettle rash.

- In Ayurveda, plant rhizome used for leprosy, constipation, worm infection, skin diseases, fever, asthma, bronchitis, inflammation, and anemia. (18)

Anti-Diabetes / Rhizomes: Study of crude extract of Costus speciosus rhizomes lowered the plasma glucose in STZ-induced diabetic rats which may be due to potentiation of insulin from B-cells. The rhizome of CS may be beneficial in protection and alleviation of diabetic complications. (1)
Antihyperglycemic / Hypolipidemic / Antioxidant / Roots: Study of in alloxan-induced diabetic rats showed CS root extract to possess anti-hyperglycemic, antihyperlipidemic and antioxidant effects. (2)
Diosgenin: Study found a new source of diosgenin in the rhizomes of C speciosus, a potential source of commercial for its isolation, with the advantage of abundant growth in the plains.
Spasmodic Activity / Ecbolic: Fresh juice of rhizomes increased the tone, amplitude and frequency of rhythmic contractions of different models of isolated uterus, an effect that explains its use as an ecbolic in indigenous systems. The extract study yielded a mixture of 5 saponins of two different types.
Hepatoprotective Activity: Study of ethanolic extract of the rhizomes of C speciosus on carbon tetrachloride treated rats showed significant hepatoprotective activity with a significant fall in liver enzymes supported by histopathological studies on the liver. (5)
Aliphatic Compounds: Study yielded two new compounds, G and H, from the roots of Costus speciosus characterized as 8-hydroxytriaconta-25-one and Me-tritriacontanoat. (6)
Anti-Stress / Neurotransmitter Effects: Extracts were found to possess normalizing activity against cold immobilization stress induced changes in NE, DA, 5-HT and MAO. Results provide biochemical evidence for antistress activity. (7)
Eremanthin / Anti-Diabetic / Hypolipidemic: Study isolated eremanthin from C speciosus. Results showed it possessed hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic activities and suggests potential use for treatment of diabetes. (8)
Anticholinesterase: Study showed C. specious alkaloids to possess anticholinesterase activity in both in vitro and in vivo methods and may explain the use of the plant in eye diseases and as a dupurative.   (9)
Anti-Inflammatory / Analgesic / Antipyretic / Aerial Parts: Study of methanol extracts of Costus speciosus Koen. aerial parts in experimental animal models showed anti-inflammatory activity on carrageenan-induced paw edema testing, analgesic activity on acetic acid-induced writhing and Eddy's hot-plate models, and antipyretic activity in Brewer's yeast induced pyrexia. (13)
Estrogenic Effect: Study evaluated a methanolic extract of rhizome for its effect on ovary and uterus of Gonado-intact female female adult mice. Results showed an endocrine effect evidenced by a significant decrease in ovarian weight and increase in uterine weight compared to normal control. Phytochemical screening yielded secondary metabolites i.e., alkaloids and flavonoids. (14)
Antimicrobial / Costunolide: Antibacterial and antifungal activities were observed in hexane, chloroform, ethyl acetate and methanol extracts. Study isolated two sesquiterpenoids, costunolide and eremanthin, from the hexane extract. The compounds did not inhibit tested bacteria, but inhibited tested fungi. Costunolide showed significant antifungal activity against T. mentagrophytes, T. simii, T. rubrum, E. floccosum, Scopulariopsis sp, A. niger, C. lunata and M. grisea. (18)
Diuretic / Rhizomes: Study evaluated the diuretic activity of aqueous and alcoholic extracts of rhizomes of Costus speciosus in alibino rats. Both extracts showed significant increase in urine output as well as electrolyte concentration. (19)
Antioxidant / Rhizomes: Study of rhizome extracts showed antioxidant activity. The DPPH antiscavenging activity of aqueous extract was 9.98%, methanol 78.03%, chloroform 18.33% and acetone 30.02% extracts. (see constituents above) (20)
Silver Nanoparticles / Antimicrobial: Study reports on the formulation of a cost-effective and environment friendly technique for the green synthesis of silver nanopartilces using Costus speciosus extract with AgNO3 solution. Antibacterial activity of the silver nanoparticles was found superior to that of hot or cold extracts of C. speciosus. Study reports on the use of biologically synthesized nanoparticles to treat urinary tract infections. (21)
Food Supplement for Heifers: Study showed the benefit of using C. speciosus ground roots as a feed additive supplement in Egyptian buffalo, improving the health status by enhancement of immunity and antioxidant status. (23)
Food Supplement for Heifers: Treatment with STZ induced genotoxicity in rats in the form of increased frequency of DNA damage, micronuclei and chromosomal aberrations. Treatment with costus or nanocostus reduced these toxicities especially with nanocostus, indicating the protective nature of these compounds. (24)
Diosgenin / Antioxidant / Antiproliferative: Study evaluated the in vitro anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiangiogenic activities of diosgenin isolated from C. speciosus. Tested sample showed effective antioxidant scavenging affinity against DPPH radicals. Results suggested the disogenin possess anticancer, apoptotic, and inhibitory effects on cell proliferation. (25)


Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Update April 2016

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Influence of C speciosus Rhizome Extracts on Biochemical Parameters in Streptozotocin Induced Diabetic Rats / Journal of Health Science,54(6)675-681(2008)
Antihyperglycemic and hypolipidemic effects of Costus speciosus in alloxan induced diabetic rats / Phytotherapy Research / Volume 22 Issue 5, Pages 620 - 626
An Antifungal Constituent of Costus speciosus / Bandara B.M.R., Hewage C.M., Karunaratne V. and Adikaram N.K.B. (1987), / Proc. Sri Lanka Assoc. Advmt. Sci., 43(1), 214

A New Indian Source of Diosgenin (Costus speciosus) / B Dasgupta et al / Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences • Vol 26 No 5, May 1970
Evaluation of Protective Effects of Ethanolic Extract of Costus speciosus Rhizomes on Carbon Tetrachloride-Induced Hepatotoxicity in Rats / Nitin Verma and R L Khosa / DOI 10.1007/BF01898450 )
Aliphatic compounds from Costus speciosus roots / Madan Gupta et al / Phytochemistry • Volume 21, Issue 1, 1982, Pages 230-231 / doi:10.1016/0031-9422(82)80053-8
Effect of Costus speciosus and Wedelia chinensis on Brain Neurotransmitters and Enzyme Monoamine Oxidase Following ColdImmobilization Stress /Nitin Verma et al /J. Pharm. Sci. & Res. Vol.1(2), 2009,22-25 /
Antidiabetic and antilipidemic effect of eremanthin from Costus speciosus (Koen.)Sm., in STZ-induced diabetic rats / Eliza J et al / Chemico-biological interactions • 2009, vol. 182, no1, pp. 67-72
Anticholinesterase activity of Costus speciosus alkaloids / S k Bhaitacharya et al / Anticholinesterase activity of Costus speciosus alkaloids
Cheilocostus speciosus / Synonyms / The Plant List
Phytochemical Profile and Antifungal Activity of Costus Sp. of Bay Islands / K. Abirami, V. Baskaran, D. R. Singh, P. Gopinath, K. Sakthivel and S. Dam Roy / Journal of the Andaman Science Associa on Vol. 19(1):45-49 (2014)
Antiinflammatory, Analgesic and Antipyretic Activities of Aerial Parts of Costus speciosus Koen / Shruti Srivastava, P. Singh,* K. K. Jha, Garima Mishra, S. Srivastava, and R. L. Khosa / Indian J Pharm Sci. 2013 Jan-Feb; 75(1): 83–88. / doi: 10.4103/0250-474X.113532
Effect of Costus speciosus Koen on Reproductive Organs of Female Albino Mice / Choudhury Najma, Kalita Jogen Chandra, and Haque Ansarul / International Research Journal of Pharmacy, 2012, 3 (4)
Crepe ginger / Common names / Flowers of India
Sorting Costus names / /Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1995 - 2020 / A Work in Progress. School of Agriculture and Food Systems. Faculty of Land & Food Resources. The Univers ity of Melbourne. Australia.
Costus speciosus / Johannes Seidemann / World Spice Plants: Economic Usage, Botany, Taxonomy
Antimicrobial activity of sesquiterpene lactones isolated from traditional medicinal plant, Costus speciosus (Koen ex.Retz.) Sm / Veeramuthu Duraipandiyan, Naif Abdullah Al-Harbi, Savarimuthu IgnacimuthuEmail author and Chinnasamy Muthukumar / BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012, 12:13 /
DOI: 10.1186/1472-6882-12-13
Evaluation of diuretic acitivty of aqueous and alcoholic rhizome extracts of Costus speciosus Linn. in wister albino rats / Dubey Subodh et al / IJRAP 2010, 1 (2) 648-652
Phytochemical Screening and Antioxidant Activity of Rhizome Extracts of Costus speciosus (Koen.) J.E. Smith / Sanjay Jagtap* and Rajendra Satpute / Journal of Academia and Industrial Research (JAIR) , Volume 3, Issue 1 June 2014
Synthesis of Silver Nanoparticles using Costusspeciosus and study of its anti-microbial properties against urinary tract pathogens / Shaikh Fakhra* and Sabnis Shilpa / Int.J.Curr.Microbiol.App.Sci (2014) 3(1): 248-252
Extraction, estimation and comparison of proteins and carbohydrates from different parts of Costus speciosus and a brief study on its phytochemicals content / Karabi Das, Partha Pratim Kalita, Manash Pratim Sarma, Nayan Talukdar, Parimita Kakoti / International Journal of Basic and Applied Biology, Vol 2, No 2, November 2014. pp. 81 – 85
Biochemical and hematological evaluation of Costus speciosus as a dietary supplement to Egyptian buffaloes / El-Far, A. H. and Abou-Ghanema, I. / African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Vol. 7(42), pp. 2774-2779, 15 November, 2013 / DOI: 10.5897/AJPP2013.3519
Potential Protective Effect of Costus speciosus or its Nanoparticles on Streptozotocin-induced Genotoxicity and Histopathological Alterations in Rats / Girgis SM*, Shoman TMT, Kassem SM, Ezz El-Din A, and Abdel-Aziz KB / J Nutr Food Sci S3:002. doi: 10.4172/2155-9600.1000S3002
Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiangiogenic activities of diosgenin isolated from traditional medicinal plant, Costus speciosus (Koen ex.Retz.) Sm / Samy Selim* & Soad Al Jaouni / Natural Product Research: Formerly Natural Product Letters / DOI:10.1080/14786419.2015.1065493

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