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Zedoary

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  • Botanical: Curcuma zedoaria
  • Family: Zingiberaceae
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Zedoary

Botanical

Curcuma zedoaria

Family

Zingiberaceae

Known as

Zedoary, Curcuma zedoaria, Giftheil, Zitwer

Old Use

culinary, medicinal uses

Parts Used

roots

Medicinal

antiseptic, anxiety, blood cleansing, colds, colic, cramps, irritability, weakness

Heart & Circulation

blood cleansing, circulation

Mind & Nerves

colic, fatigue (exhaustion), stress relief, weakness

Stomach & Intestinal

abdominal pain, bile weakness, flatulence, liver weakness

Properties

antispasmodic, anti inflammatory, stimulant

Description

Curcuma zedoaria, also known as Zedoary, is an herb that grows up to 1.2 m in height. This plant has both vertical aerial stems (pseudostems) and horizontal underground stems known as rhizomes, which allow the plant to spread so this species often grows in large clumps.
The swollen underground stems are yellow or orange colored inside and are aromatic when crushed. The leaves of Zedoary are oblong and can be up to 81 cm long and 18 cm wide. This species can be recognized by the presence of a purplish hue along the midvein of the leafblades.

The clusters of flowers are produced in a dense aggregation on an above ground stalk that grows from a leafless underground stem. Green or red tinted bracts at the base of the inflorescence enclose the flowers. The pink, white, or red, upper bracts in the inflorescence contain no flowers but may serve to attract pollinators.

The white flower petals are 4.8 cm long and enclose the stamens (pollen producing structures) and ovary (ovule producing structures). Six stamens are present in these flowers although five of these are sterile. The five sterile stamens are fused to form a lip-like structure that is colored and resembles a petal. The ovary of Zedoary is a three-parted capsule and breaks open at maturity to release the seeds.

Many seeds are produced in each fruit, each of which is surrounded by a fleshy covering.

Traditional Use

The rhizome of Zedoary is used extensively as a medicine largely for it bitter properties. 
This publication provided instructions for the preparation of bitter tinctures, antiperiodic pills, and antiperiodic tincture. The rhizome is considered to aid digestion, to purify the blood, to provide relief for colic, and for the treatment of colds and infections.

The essential oil is an active ingredient in antibacterial preparations. In India the rhizome is chewed to alter a sticky taste in the mouth, and in both Java and India a decoction of the root is used to treat weakness resulting from childbirth.

Cautions

none known

Distribution

Zedoary is native to Southeast Asia, although the exact distribution of this species prior to human influence is not known as it has been dispersed along with human migrations throughout its history.
It has become naturalized (existing outside of cultivation) in India and throughout Southeast Asia.

Constituents

Zingiberene, Essential oil, alpha-Pinene, curcumin, resin, sesquiterpenes, mucus