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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 21  |  Page : 27-30  

Fingerroot, Boesenbergia rotunda and its aphrodisiac activity

1 Mahidol University International College, Mahidol University, Salaya Campus, Nakhon Pathom 73170, Thailand
2 Department of Pathobiology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Bangkok 10400, Thailand

Date of Web Publication11-Apr-2017

Correspondence Address:
Wannee Jiraungkoorskul
Department of Pathobiology, Faculty of Science,Mahidol University, Bangkok 10400
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/phrev.phrev_50_16

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Boesenbergia rotunda (Family: Zingiberaceae) as known as fingerroot is a daily food ingredient and traditional medicinal plant in Southeast Asia and Indo-China. It has been shown to possess anti-allergic, antibacterial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiulcer activities and also shown wound healing. Its common phytochemical components include alkaloids, essential oils, flavonoids, and phenolics. This plant is rich in boesenbergin, krachaizin, panduratin, and pinostrobin, all of which has been reported to contribute to its remedial properties including aphrodisiac property. Based on established literature on the aphrodisiac property of B. rotunda and possible mode of action, this review article has attempted to compile that B. rotunda could be further explored for the development of potential aphrodisiac treatment.

Keywords: Aphrodisiac, Boesenbergia rotunda, plant, sex behavior, traditional medicine

How to cite this article:
Ongwisespaiboon O, Jiraungkoorskul W. Fingerroot, Boesenbergia rotunda and its aphrodisiac activity. Phcog Rev 2017;11:27-30

How to cite this URL:
Ongwisespaiboon O, Jiraungkoorskul W. Fingerroot, Boesenbergia rotunda and its aphrodisiac activity. Phcog Rev [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Apr 23];11:27-30. Available from: http://www.phcogrev.com/text.asp?2017/11/21/27/204365

   Aphrodisiac Plants Top

Erectile dysfunction is a neurovascular disorder that affects the sexual life of men worldwide and also contributes to infertility.[1] It occurs commonly in middle-aged and older men.[2] Some complication diseases such as cardiovascular disorders, depression, diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, or hypertension can course effect to erectile dysfunction.[3] Aphrodisiac is described as any substance that can enhance sexual pleasure such as drugs, minerals, and medicinal plants.[4],[5] Some of the medicinal plants have been provided as aphrodisiac plants by their mode of actions. (i) Those are increasing the quantity and quality of semen for example black cumin, Nigella sativa in Iran,[6] and dragon blood tree, Dracaena draco in Nigeria.[7] (ii) Those are delaying the time of ejaculation, for example, drumstick tree, Moringa oleifera in India,[8] and bindii, Tribulus terrestris in Singapore.[9] (iii) Those are increasing penile erection, for example, creeping butea, Butea superba in Thailand,[10] and Aspidosperma ulei in Brazil.[11] (iv) Those are arousing sexual desire, for example, cattle stick, Carpolobia lutea in Nigeria.[12] The present review explores scientific evidence to provide updated information about the properties of Boesenbergia rotunda, one of the aphrodisiac plants that is being investigated for its mechanism.

   Taxonomical Classification Top

The taxonomy of B. rotunda is in the Kingdom: Plantae; Subkingdom: Viridiplantae; Infrakingdom: Streptophyta; Superdivision: Embryophyta; Division: Tracheophyta; Subdivision: Spermatophytina; Class: Magnoliopsida; Superorder: Liliane; Order: Zingiberales; Family: Zingiberaceae; Genus: Boesenbergia; Species: B. rotunda.[13] The plant genus Boesenbergia is a ginger species belonging to the family of Zingiberaceae, which is comprised almost fifty genera and over 1000 species distributed throughout tropical and subtropical regions. It was previously categorized under the Kaempferia genus. This plant has different botanical names which are Boesenbergia cochinchinensis, Boesenbergia pandurata, Curcuma rotunda, Gastrochilus panduratus, Gastrochilus rotundus, Kaempferia cochinchinensis, Kaempferia ovate, and Kaempferia pandurata; nonetheless, it is currently known as B. rotunda.[14]

   Nomenclature Top

B. rotunda is a native of the tropics areas, particularly in South and Southeast Asia and China. The rhizome is finger look-like appearance, so its common English name is fingerroot. The vernacular names of B. rotunda include ao chun jiang (Chinese); temoe koentji (Dutch); petits doigts (French); fingerwurz (German); temu kunci (Indonesian); gajutu (Japanese); khchiey (Khmer); neng kieng (Lao); temu kunci (Malay); krachai (Thai); and cu ngai (Vietnamese).[15]

   Plant Description of Boesenbergia Rotunda Top

B. rotunda is a perennial with a short stem that is replaced by pseudostems, formed by leaf sheaths growing up to 50 cm tall. There are 3–4 leaves which are 7–11 cm in width and 25–50 m in length, which are not divided, oval or elongate shape. The surface of rhizomes is light brown and yellow inside, ovoid-globose, and strongly aromatic. Its rhizomes look-like fingers which growing from a central part [Figure 1].[16]
Figure 1: The morphology of Boesenbergia rotunda (a) stems, (b) leaves, and (c) rhizomes

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   Phytochemical Substances Top

The active phytochemical substances of B. rotunda are as follows: (1) flavonoids including alpinetin, boesenbergin, cardamonin, geraniol, krachaizin, panduratin, pinostrobin, pinocembrin, rotundaflavone, and silybin;[17],[18],[19] (2) essential oils including nerol, camphor, cineole, fenchene, hemanthidine, and limonene;[20] (3) polyphenols including caffeic acid, coumaric acid, chlorogenic acid, hesperidin, kaempferol, naringin, and quercetin.[21]

   Traditional Uses Top

The rhizomes of B. rotunda have been used as spices, flavoring agents, dyes and as traditional medicine. The uses or phytochemical properties of B. rotunda from several literature reviews are anti-allergic,[22] antibacterial,[23],[24] anti-Helicobacter pylori,[25] anti-leptospiral,[26] anticancer,[27],[28] anti-inflammatory,[29] antioxidant,[30] antiulcer,[31] and anti-dengue viral,[32],[33] and anti-herpes viral activities [34] and wound healing.[35] It also uses to treatment hepatic disease.[36] Moreover, it can act as larvicidal and pupicidal activities.[37]

   Aphrodisiac Activity Top

The extracts of various plant parts of B. rotunda, including the leaf, stem, and rhizomes, have been investigated and found to be pharmacologically active inducing aphrodisiac activity. Sudwan et al.[38] from Thailand studied the effect of oral feeding of B. rotunda rhizome in male rats for 60 days. They reported that the doses of 0.06, 0.12, and 0.24 g/kg of ethanolic extract increased the diameter of seminiferous tubules and increased the weights of the testicular and seminal vesicle. There was no effect in the sperm density, serum testosterone, and androstenedione levels. Temkitthawon et al.[39] evaluated the phosphodiesterase inhibitory activity among plants that were collected from Northern part of Thailand using a radioassay, compared with isobutylmethylxanthine, the standard inhibitor. Yotarlai et al.[40] from Thailand studied the effect of oral feeding at the doses of 0.06, 0.12, and 0.60 g/kg of fresh juice of B. rotunda rhizome on sperm qualities on both premature and mature male rats for 30 days. This plant increased the motility and number of normal sperm but decreased the abnormal morphology sperm tails only in mature rats. They suggested that this plant juice could increase the fertility by improving sperm's quality and its effect is age dependence. The researchers from Indonesia studied the effect of traditional herbS such as egg, bee honey, fingerroot, cardamom, and vitamin as a dietary supplementation for enhance quality of bull semen. The researcher analyzed these parameters such as libido, volume of semen, motility and number of sperm, percentage of life, and abnormality of sperm. The results indicated bull fed with herbal supplement made the quality of semen at ejaculation better than those of control group.[41],[42] In several review articles, B. rotunda is one of the aphrodisiac plants.[4], 5, [43],[44],[45] In additional, the plants in the same Zingiberaceae family also show the aphrodisiac activities. Chaturapanich et al.[46] from Thailand studied the effect of oral feeding at the doses of 70 mg/kg/day of ethanolic, hexane, and aqueous extracts of krachaidum, Kaempferia parviflora, in male rats for 5 weeks. They reported that ethanolic extract had an aphrodisiac activity by increased blood flow to the testis and decreased mount and ejaculatory latencies. Morakinyo et al.[47] from Nigeria studied the effect of oral feeding at the doses of 500 and 1000 mg/kg/day of aqueous extract of ginger, Zingiber officinale in male rats for 14 and 28 days. There were dose and time dependent increased in sperm count and motility, increased testis and epididymis weights, and increased serum testosterone level. Mazaheri et al.[48] from Iran studied the effect of oral feeding at the doses of 100 and 300 mg/kg/day of methanolic extract of greater galangal, Alpinia galanga in male rats for 56 days. The extract increased serum testosterones level and percentage of sperm viability and motility.

   Phytochemical Substances in Aphrodisiac Activity Top

Up to now, the scientific studies have proven that the phytochemical substances or plant secondary metabolites have the aphrodisiac activities and can be classified into three main groups due to the similarity of their structures. (i) Flavonoids and other phenolic compounds including chalcones, flavonols, flavones, dihydroflavonoids, anthocyanidins, isoflavones, bioflavonoids, and neoflavonoids are normally extracted by less polar or nonpolar solvents.[49] These flavonoids have estrogenic [50] or androgenic activities.[51] The functions of these flavonoids and other phenolic compounds show as phosphodiesterase inhibitors, particularly like as Viagra.[52] (ii) Alkaloids, xanthins and other amines, are natural nitrogenous secondary metabolites found in flowering plants.[53] Their structures are similar with the cyclic adenosine monophosphate, therefore bind competitively to the phosphodiesterase regions, and act as nonselective phosphodiesterase inhibitor.[54] They also improve central pro-erectile mechanisms by reacting with the receptors in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus.[55] (iii) Saponins are the nonnitrogenous secondary metabolites that are the components of the higher plants. Some of saponins can be phosphodiesterase inhibitor and some are adaptogens or anti-stress agents.[56],[57]

   Conclusion Top

Many of the traditional medicinal plants have been evaluated for their aphrodisiac activities; several plants still need to be confirmed the efficiency and safety. Several researchers reported B. rotunda may present the aphrodisiac property through increasing the quantity and quality of sperm. The antioxidant activity of this plant might be the advantage property to protection testicular tissue damage and enhancing the sperm quality. This review article has attempted to compile the new medicinal plant B. rotunda to be one of the choices of aphrodisiac plants.


We especially thank the members of the Fish Research Unit, Department of Pathobiology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, for their support. We would like to thank anonymous reviewers and editors of this review article for their perceptive comments and positive criticism in this review article.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

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