Zedoary Root

Scientific Names:
Curcuma zedoaria Roscoe [Fam. Zingiberaceae]

Coarsely cut, dried root for making infusions; zedoary root tincture

Traditional Usage:
– Anti-inflammatory
– Antioxidant
– Antiperiodic (prevents disease recurrence)
– Bile Stimulant
– Cellular Regeneration
– Cleansing
– Colic
– Detoxification
– Digestive Disorders
– Flatulence
– Gastrointestinal Disorders
– Indigestion
– Ulcers

Zedoary root, Curcuma zedoaria Roscoe [Fam. Zingiberaceae], is a popular spice and medicine in the Eastern world, used similarly to its cousin turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) in condiments and curries. Zedoary root is a component of the gastrointestinal remedy, Swedish Bitters. Zedoary root possesses the odour of camphor and the taste of slightly bitter ginger. When chewed, the roots turn saliva yellow, similar to turmeric. According to Mrs. Grieve’s Modern Herbal, five commercial varieties of zedoary root come from China, Bengal, Madras, Java and Cochin-China. Traditionally, zedoary is used for treating flatulent colic and indigestion, though not as popular as ginger for the same purpose. Traditionally, the bitter tincture of zedoary root is used to prevent disease recurrence (as with malaria) and to treat ulcers. Through its bitter properties, zedoary increases the flow of gastric juices relieving dyspepsia and gastrointestinal upsets associated with digestive organ congestion. German authorities recognize that ‘bitters’ stimulate bile flow and cleanse the liver of fatty deposits. From ancient times on, bitter herbal drugs played a very important role in the therapy of patients with dyspeptic symptoms. The mechanisms of action of the bitters are not completely understood. But there are indications that they sensorially stimulate, at even very small concentrations, the secretion of the stomach as well as the digestive glands and strengthen the smooth musculature of the digestive tract (via the gustatory system, the vagus nerve and the enteric nervous system). Across the enteral nervous system, the strengthened digestive tract seems to stimulate the CNS, leading to a general tonification. At higher dosages, bitters probably directly affect the mucous membranes of the stomach and the bowel. In addition to the well-known effect of zedoary as a stomachic, dehydrocurdione, the major sesquiterpene found in Curcuma zedoaria roots has anti-inflammatory potency related to its antioxidant effect.

Active Ingredients:
Zedoary root contains: 1.0 -1.5% essential oil containing D-borneol; D-camphene; D-camphor; cineole; curculone; curcumadiol; curcumanolide A and B; Curcumenol; curcumenone curcumin; curcumol; curdione; dehydrocurdione; alpha-pinene; mucilage; starch; resin; sesquiterpenes; and sesquiterpene alcohols. The root also contains numerous other bitter substances; tannins; and flavonoids. (Source: Duke JA. 1992. Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS Herbs and Other Economic Plants).

Suggested Amount:
Zedoary root is generally used as a spice in condiments and curries. Infusions can be made using 1 tablespoon of root for every pint of boiling water. As an aromatic bitter, a cup of the unsweetened tea is drunk half-an-hour before meals. According to Mrs. Grieve’s Modern Herbal (Botanical.com), tinctures of zedoary root should be taken at the dosage of 20-30 drops per day.

Drug Interactions:
None known

None known

Side Effects:
None known


Hong CH, Kim Y, Lee SK. 2001. Sesquiterpenoids from the rhizome of Curcuma zedoaria. Arch Pharm Res. 2001 Oct; 24(5): 424-6.

Irie K, Yoshioka T, Nakai A, Ochiai K, Nishikori T, Wu GR, Shibuya H, Muraki T. 2000. A Ca(2+) channel blocker-like effect of dehydrocurdione on rodent intestinal and vascular smooth muscle. Eur J Pharmacol. 2000 Sep 8; 403(3): 235-42.

Saller R, Iten F, Reichling J. 2001. [Dyspepsia and phytotherapy – a review of traditional and modern herbal drugs.] Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd 2001 Oct; 8(5): 263-73. [Article in German]

Watanabe K, Shibata M, Yano S, Cai Y, Shibuya H, Kitagawa I. 1986. [Antiulcer activity of extracts and isolated compounds from zedoary (gajutsu) cultivated in Yakushima (Japan)]. Yakugaku Zasshi. 1986 Dec; 106(12): 1137-42. Japanese.

Yoshioka T, Fujii E, Endo M, Wada K, Tokunaga Y, Shiba N, Hohsho H, Shibuya H, Muraki T. 1998. Antiinflammatory potency of dehydrocurdione, a zedoary-derived
sesquiterpene. Inflamm Res. 1998 Dec; 47(12): 476-81.