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Kaempferia galanga, commonly known as kencur, aromatic ginger, sand ginger or resurrection lily, is a monocotyledonous plant in the ginger family. It is found primarily in open areas in southern Chinamarker, Taiwanmarker, Cambodiamarker and Indiamarker, but is also widely cultivated throughout Southeast Asia. The plant is used as a herb in cooking in Indonesia, and especially in Java and Bali culinaries; its Indonesian name is kencur. Its leaves are used in the Malay rice dish, nasi ulam. Unlike Boesenbergia pandurata (grachai or Chinese key), kaempferia galanga is not commonly used in Thai cuisine but can be bought as a dried rhizome or in powder form at herbal medicine stalls. It is known in Thai as proh horm (เปราะหอม) or waan horm (ว่านหอม). It is also used in Chinese cooking and Chinese medicine and is sold in Chinese groceries under the name Sha Jiang ( ), while the plant itself is referred to as shan nai ( ). Kaempferia galanga has a peppery camphorous taste. It is one of four plants known as galangal, and is differentiated from the others by the absence of stem and dark brown rounded rhizomes, while the other varieties all have stems and pale rosebrown rhizomes. Lesser galangal properly refers to Alpinia officinarum. In common usage, however, it is also erroneously applied to Kaempferia galanga. Kaempferia galanga is also erronousely called Zedoary.

Nomenclature and taxonomy

Similar species


Kaempferia galanga rhizomes
The rhizomes of aromatic ginger have been reported to include cineol, borneol, 3-carene, camphene, kaempferol, kaempferide, cinnamaldehyde, p-methoxycinnaamic acid, ethyl cinnamate and ethyl p-methoxycinnamate. Extracts of the plant using methanol have shown larvicidal activity against the second stage larva of dog roundworm (Toxocara canis). It was also found to be effective as an amebicide in vitro against three species of Acanthamoeba which cause granulomatous amebic encephalitis and amebic keratitis. In 1999 the rhizome extract was found to inhibit activity of Epstein-Barr virus. Further research has demonstrated that the extract effectively kills larvae of the mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus and repels adult Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, both of which are serious disease vectors. As a result of these findings, research is underway to evaluate the plant extract's use as an insect repellent, with preliminary findings suggesting that it is a non-irritant to the skin of rats.


The rhizomes of the plant, which contains essential oils, have been used in Chinese medicine as a decoction or powder for treating indigestion, cold, pectoral and abdominal pains, headache and toothache. Its alcoholic maceration has also been applied as liniment for rheumatism.

Potential medicinal use

It has been reported recently that the rhizomes of Kaempferia galanga contains the chemicals that are of insecticidal potent. A similar finding was also revealed previously from the species of Zingiber cassumunar and Kaempferia rotunda.

Aroma attributes


Notes and references

Kaempferia galanga rhizomes, sliced open

See also

External links

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