Phytochemistry, pharmacological activities and uses of traditional medicinal plant Kaempferia galanga L. - An overview

J Ethnopharmacol. 2020 May 10;253:112667. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2020.112667. Epub 2020 Mar 2.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Kaempferia galanga L. is a stemless, rhizomatous, aromatic, perennial and indigenous herb. It is native to India and distributed in China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Sudan, Nigeria and South Africa. It is an important Indian medicinal herb that has a long history of use in the treatment of several kinds of human ailments including vata ailments like cough and cold, fever, headache, pains disorders, skin diseases, rheumatic diseases, arthritis, joint fractures, vertigo, wounds, gastritis, antidote for snake venoms, inflammation, blood vomiting, mouth sores and tongue blisters in infants. Moreover, the rhizomes of this plant are highly aromatic and have been used widely as spices, in food flavoring, pickles, cosmetics and in perfumery products.

Aim of the review: This paper aimed to provide a critical review of current scenario on K. galanga. This review provides a current data on diversity, phytochemistry, pharmacological activities and traditional uses of K. galanga.

Materials and methods: The information and data on K. galanga were collated from various resources like ethnobotanical textbooks and literature databases such as PubMed, Science Direct, Wiley, Springer, Tailor and Francis, Scopus, Inflibnet, Google and Google Scholar.

Results: The forty-nine phytochemicals including esters, terpenoids, flavonoids, thiourea derivatives, polysaccharides, diarylheptanoids, phenolic acids, phenolic glycoside and cyclic lipodepsipeptide have been hitherto isolated and characterized. The major bioactive compounds extracted from the rhizome of K. galanga were ethyl p-methoxycinnamate, ethyl cinnamate, kaempferol, kaempferide, kaempsulfonic acids, kaemgalangol A, xylose, cystargamide B and 3-caren-5-one. Various studies demonstrated that the K. galanga and its constituents possess several pharmacological activities like antimicrobial, antioxidant, amebicidal, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-tuberculosis, anti-dengue, anti-nociceptive, anti-angiogenic, anticancer, hyperlipidemic, hypopigmentary, osteolysis, larvicidal, insecticidal and mosquito repellent, nematocidal, sedative, sniffing, vasorelaxant and wound healing.

Conclusion: Kaempferia galanga L. is a valuable medicinal plant which is used traditionally in India to treat a wide variety of ailments. A number of bioactive phytochemicals like esters, terpenoids, flavonoids, polysaccharides, diarylheptanoids, cyclic lipodepsipeptide, phenolic acids and glucoside have been isolated from the rhizomes of K. galanga by several researchers. These phytochemicals are highly bioactive and exhibit various pharmacological activities.

Keywords: Kaempferia galanga L.; Pharmacological activities; Phytochemistry; Traditional uses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Traditional*
  • Phytochemicals / analysis
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology
  • Phytochemicals / therapeutic use
  • Plant Preparations / chemistry
  • Plant Preparations / pharmacology
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Zingiberaceae*


  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Preparations