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Scientific Name Etlingera elatior
Order Zingiberales  
Family Zingiberaceae 

Torch Ginger, Ginger flower, Red ginger lily, Torch lily, Wild ginger, Combrang, Bunga kantan, Philippine wax flower, Xiang Bao Jiaing, Indonesian Tall Ginger, Boca de Dragon, Rose de Porcelaine, Porcelain Rose.

Nicolaia elatior, Phaeomeria magnifica, Nicolaia speciosa, Phaeomeria speciosa, Alpinia elatior, Alpinia magnifica.

Herbaceous perennial plant growing in large clumps of 3 - 6m high. The leaves are up to 85 x 18cm.  The leaf blades are green, hairless, lanceolate in shape, and up to 32 inches (81cm) long.  The inflorescence comes out of the ground instead of the terminal spike, thus making it easier to cut as a cut flower. The inflorescences have waxy, red to pink, white-edged bracts and are pinecone-shaped with a skirt of larger bracts. The individual flowers emerge from between the colorful bracts and have a dark red labellum (lip petal) with a bright yellow margin. The flowers are followed by green to reddish fruit. The pseudostems (formed by the leaf sheaths) emerge from underground rhizomes and are tall and arching. The fruits are green to reddish. Fruiting heads measure 10 x 10cm, with each individual fruit hairy and green-red. Pollinated mainly by spiderhunter birds.

Widely distributed in Malaysia. Subsequently it has been introduced into the Philippines and now is widely cultivated elsewhere.

In Malaysia inflorescences of Etlingera elatior are traditionally used for flavoring the food and for medicinal purposes. Their believed that daily intake of raw inflorescence can reduce diabetes and hypertension (Jeevani O. W., 2011). The inflorescence cosumed along with bitter leaves (Vernonia amygdalina) it can relieve flatulence in postpartum women (Mai et al., 2009). Traditionaly communities prepared decoction from the fruit of E.elatior to treate ear ache and the leaves have been used in wound healing (Tan J. et. al., 2011).

From the leaves of E.elatior, three caffeoylquinic acids including chlorogenic acid (CGA) have been isolated. Three flavonoids have been identified also in leaves as as kaempferol 3-glucuronide, quercetin 3-glucuronide, quercetin 3-glucoside, and quercetin 3-rhamnoside (E.W.C. Chan et. al., 2007). In the inflorescences flavonoids has been estimated to be 286 and 21mg of kaempferol and quercetin (per kg dry weight),respectively (Miean & Mohamed, 2001). Habsah et. al. in 2005 reported the rhizomes of E. elatior led to the isolation of two new and six known compounds of diarylheptanoids, labdane diterpenoids, and steroids. 

Flower extract of E.elatior has powerful antioxidant effect against lead induced oxidative stress the result showed significant increase in lipid hydroperoxidase (LPO) and protein carbonyl contents (PCC) however significant decrease in total antioxidants, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione S-transferase levels with lead acetate treatment (Tan J., 2011). Antioxidant properties (AOP) of leaves were significantly stronger than flowers and rhizomes. Leaves of highland populations had higher AOP values than lowland counterparts. Thermal drying of leaves led to drastic declines in AOP while freeze-dried leaves showed significant higher AOP values. Antioxidant activity of diarylheptanoids isolated from rhizomes is greater than α-tocopherol. The leaves have the highest antibacterial activity, apart of highest of antioxidant . In the inflorescence part of the plant have been potential of antimicrobial activity (E.W.C Chan et. al., 2007).

The efficacy of Etlingera elatior to protect hepatotoxicity induced by lead acetate was evaluated experimentally in male Sprague Dawley rats. The experiment was done in 21 days and all the rats were exposed to lead acetate in drinking water. The result shown a significant decrease in total antioxidant and other antioxidant enzymes. However the hepatic lipid hydroperoxidase and protein carbonyl content were increase with lead acetate ingestion while group treatment with E. elatior extract significantly reduced the hepatic lipid hydroperoxidase and protein carbonyl content in serum and increased the antioxidant enzyme levels in the liver. The histopathological changes were seen in hepatic tissue with chronic lead ingestion. Treatment with E. elatior significantly reduced these lead-induced changes in hepatic architecture. E. elatior has also reduced the blood lead levels (BLL). Thus, there has been extensive biochemical and structural alterations indicative of liver toxicity with exposure to lead and E. elatior treatment significantly reduced these oxidative damage (Nagaraja H., 2010). Tan J. et. al. in 2011 reported this experiment for 14 days Sprague Dawley rats were expose to lead acetate treated with ethanol extract of E. elatior (50, 100 and 200 mg/kg). The result shown significant increase in lipid hydroperoxidase and protein carbonyl contents however the significant decrease in total antioxidants, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione S-transferase levels with lead acetate treatment. There was a significant decrease supplementation of E. elatior was associated with reduced serum hepatic lipid hydroperoxidase and protein carbonyl content and a significant increase in total antioxidants and antioxidant enzyme levels (Tan J. et. al., 2011). In cytotoxicity studies the rhizomes of E.elatior displayed high anti tumor activity using the Epstein Barr virus (EBV) activation assay (Habsah M. Et.al., 2005). In ethyl acetate extracts showed strong cytotoxic activity against human T4-lymphoblastoid cell lines (CEM-SS) and human breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7) using the methyl thiazole tetrazolium (MTT) assay. IC50 of rhizome extracts was 4.0 and 6.3 mg/ml, respectively, compared to tamoxifen with IC50 of 30 and 15µM, respectively (Habsah M. Et.al., 2005). In ethanol extracts from E.elatior leaves and inflorescences are cytotoxic to HeLa cells (Mackeen MM. Et. al., 1997)(Ali AM. et. al., 1996). The studies in methanolic leaf extracts did not exhibit cytotoxic effect on normal WRL-68 (human liver) and Vero (African green monkey kidney) cells (Chan EWC, 2009).

Jeevani O.W.M.M., Karim A.A. and Bhat R. 2011 . Evaluation of nutritional quality of torch ginger (Etlingera elatior Jack.) inflorescence. International Food Research Journal. 18(4):1415-1420.

Mai, C.W., Wong, S.Y., Tan, E.L., Balijepalli, M.K and Pichika, M.R. 2009. Antiproliferative and apoptotic studies of the standardised extracts of Etlingera elatior on human colorectal carcinoma cells. Malayisan Journal of Chemistry 11:136-142.

Tan J., Nagaraja H. and Srikumar C. 2011 . Antioxidant effects of Etlingera elatior flower extract against lead acetate – induced perturbations in free radical scavenging enzymes and lipid peroxidation in rats.BMC research notes. 4:69.

E.W.C Chan, Y.Y.Lim and Mohamed Omar. 2006 . Antioxidant and antibacterial activity of leaves of Etlingera species (Zingiberaceae) in Peninsular Malaysia. Food chemistry. 104:1586-1593.

Miean, K.H., & Mohamed, S. (2001). Flavonoid (myricetin, quercetin, kampferol, luteolin and apigenin)content of edible tropical plants. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 49 : 3106-3112.

Habsah, M., Amran, M., Mackeen, M.M., Lajis, N.H., Kikuzaki, H., Nakatani, N., et. al. 2000 . Screening of zingiberaceae extracts for antimicrobial and antioxidant activities. Journal of ethnopharmacology. 72:403-410.

Nagaraja H., Tan J., Srikumar C., Mallikarjuna R. And Anupama K. 2010. Protective effect of Etlingera elatior (torch ginger) extract on lead acetate – induced hepatotoxicity in rats. The Journal of Toxicological Sciences. 35(5):663-671.

Chan EWC. 2009. Bioactivities and chemical constituents of leaves of some Etlingera species (Zingiberaceae) in Peninsular Malaysia. Ph.D. thesis, Monas University Sunway Campus, Malaysia. Available from: http://arrow.monash.edu.au/hdl/1959. 1/149589.

Mackeen M.M., Ali A.M., El-Sharkawy S.H., Manap M.Y., Salleh K.M., Lajis N.H. 1997. Antimicrobial and cytotoxic properties of some Malaysian traditional vegetables (ulam). Pharma Biol. 174-8.

Ali A.M., Mackeen M.M., Ei-Sharkawy S.H., Hamid J.A., Ismail N.H., Ahmad F.B.H. 1996. Antiviral and cytotoxic activities of some plants used Malaysian indigenous medicine. Pertanika J Trop Agric Sci.129-36.

Murakami A, Ohigashi H, Koshimizu K. 1994. Possible anti-tumour promoting properties of traditional Thai food items and some of their active constituents. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 3:185-91.