Zerumbone is a sesquiterpene phytochemical from a type of edible ginger known as "Zingiber Zerumbet Smith" grown in Southeast Asia or "Zingiber aromaticum". Zerumbone is currently being explored for its effects on cancer in general and leukemia in particular.

Medicinal Properties of Zerumbone:

  • suppresses free radical generation;
  • anti-inflammatory;
  • suppresses cancer cell proliferation accompanied by apoptosis: "abolishes NF-kappaB and IkappaBalpha kinase activation leading to suppression of antiapoptotic and metastatic gene expression, upregulation of apoptosis, and downregulation of invasion." (See Abstract 1 below)

Scientific Data on Zerumbone:

  • Synonyms:
    • (E,E,E)-2,6,9,9-Tetramethyl-2,6,10-cycloundecatrien-1-one 2,6,10-Cycloundecatrien-1-one, 2,6,9,9-tetramethyl-, (E,E,E)- 471-05-6
    • Shampoo Ginger, Pinecone Ginger.
  • Chemical Formula:C15H22O
  • Molecular Weight: 218.340
  • To obtain Zerumbone: isolated from fresh rhizomes in yields of 0.3-0.4% by simple steam distillation and recrystallization.

The Plant:

Zingiber Zerumbet Smith is a tall upright ginger growing up to 3m tall with long, narrow leaves. It has cone shaped bracts. After a few weeks, the first green cone turns red and then flowers appear in the cone.
Zingiber zerumbet
Zingiber zerumbet Smith

Historical Uses of Zerumbone:

The Zingiber Zerumbet variety of Ginger was carried by Polynesians throughout the islands of the Pacific, from Taiwan where it has always been used by the indigenous population, to Hawaii where it is known as "awapuhi". Zingiber Zerumbet Ginger is used in cooking for flavour, in the treatment of swellings, strains and bruises as a poultice, as a decoction for settling upset stomachs, for toothache as an anaesthetic, for the treament of cuts and sores, and for tinea and ringworm. The clear liquid contents of the cones are used as a shampoo. The parts used are the rhizome, the leaves and the cone.

Research Abstracts on Zerumbone

Abstract 1: Zerumbone as treatment for cancer.
"Overall, our results indicated that zerumbone inhibits the activation of NF-kappaB and NF-kappaB-regulated gene expression induced by carcinogens and that this inhibition may provide a molecular basis for the prevention and treatment of cancer by zerumbone."
PMID: 16007145 (Houston, TX, USA).

Abstract 2: Zerumbone as treatment for Leukemia.
"The results indicated that the extract could ... significantly prolong the life (of the) mice ... . Furthermore, zerumbone inhibited the growth of a human leukemia cell line ... in a time- and concentration-dependent manner ... These results suggest that zerumbone ... is potentially a lead compound for the development of anticancer drugs."
PMID: 15770541 (Tainan, Taiwan, R.O.C.)

Abstract 3: Zerumbone as treatment for tumor.
"The anticancer properties of zerumbone ... were compared with those of curcumin from Curcuma longa ... . Total ACFs (cancer indicators) were significantly reduced by Z. aromaticum extract ... . Zerumbone is effective as an anticancer agent, possibly by its apoptosis-inducing and antiproliferative influences. ..."
PMID: 12881017 (Adelaide, South Australia).

Abstract 4: Zerumbone and inflamation.
"The present study was carried out to elucidate the anti-inflammatory effect of the methanol extract obtained from the rhizomes of Zingiber cassumunar Roxb. and its active principles. ... The methanol extract (p.o.) showed both anti-inflammatory activity and analgesic activity. ... These results suggest that the anti-inflammatory action and analgesic action of Zingiber cassumunar is the result of the (E)-1-(3,4-dimethoxyphenyl)but-1-ene that it contains."
PMID: 1804548 (Tokyo, Japan).

Abstract 5: Zerumbone and Liver Cancer.
"This new anticancer bioactive compound from Z. zerumbet was investigated for its activity and mechanism in human liver cancer cell lines. ... Therefore, zerumbone was found to induce the apoptotic process in HepG2 cells through the up and down regulation of Bax/Bcl-2 protein independently of functional p53 activity."
PMID: 17407577 (Selangor, Malaysia).

Old Herbs - New Science

Ananain and Comosain (from Pineapple stem)

Cinnamon Extract

Curcuma Longa


Ficain (from Fig Trees)

Licorice Root Extract

Petty Spurge and Euphorbia Peplus

Rosmarinic Acid (from Rosemary, Sage)

Spanish Sage

Turmeric Extract

Vineatrol (from Grapevine shoots)

Withania Somnifera (Ashwagandha)

Withanolide (from Ashwagandha)

Zerumbone (from Ginger)
This website acknowledges Pubmed (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) as source for medical research abstracts.

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