The effects of wild ginger (Costus speciosus (Koen) Smith) rhizome extract and diosgenin on rat uterine contractions

Reprod Sci. 2011 Jun;18(6):516-24. doi: 10.1177/1933719110391278.


The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of wild ginger (Costus speciosus (Koen) Smith, Costaceae) rhizome extract on uterine contractility. We particularly examined the effects on spontaneous phasic contractions and the mechanisms whereby it exerts its effects. Wild ginger rhizomes were ethanolic extracted and their constituents analyzed. Isometric force was measured in strips of longitudinal myometrium and the effects of the extract studied. The extract (10 mg/100 mL) increased spontaneous contractions. The amplitude and frequency of the phasic contraction were significantly increased along with basal tension. Force produced in the presence of the extract was abolished by inhibition of l-type calcium channels or myosin light chain kinase (MLCK). The actions of the extract were not blocked by the estrogen receptor blocker, fulvestrant. Although significant amounts of diosgenin were present in the extract, we found that, depending upon its concentration, diosgenin had either no effect or was inhibitory on force. Interestingly, the extract induced significant amounts of force in the absence of extracellular calcium, which could be blocked by inhibition of the sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium-ATPase (SERCA), but not fulvestrant. We conclude that wild ginger rhizome extract stimulates phasic activity in rat uterus. Our data suggest that the uterotonic effect is due to nonestrogenic effects and not those of diosgenin. Wild ginger was able to increase contraction via calcium entry on l-type calcium channels and sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) calcium release. We suggest that wild ginger rhizome extract may be a useful uterine stimulant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asarum / chemistry*
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / drug effects
  • Diosgenin / pharmacology*
  • Estradiol / analogs & derivatives
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Estrogen Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Fulvestrant
  • Myometrium / drug effects*
  • Myosin-Light-Chain Kinase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Rhizome / chemistry*
  • Sarcoplasmic Reticulum Calcium-Transporting ATPases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Uterine Contraction / drug effects*


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type
  • Estrogen Antagonists
  • Plant Extracts
  • Fulvestrant
  • Estradiol
  • Myosin-Light-Chain Kinase
  • Sarcoplasmic Reticulum Calcium-Transporting ATPases
  • Diosgenin