Curcuma xanthorrhiza is a native plant of Java, Bali and the Moluccas. Known
in Indonesia as ‘Temulawak’, this beautiful plant can reach a height
of one metre and has long, banana-type leaves. Very infrequently it grows big,
strong, green and purple coloured inflorescences.
The rhizomes are used for application. They are dark yellow outside but they can have a flashy orange inside. After cleaning and peeling they are sliced and dried in thin layers at 50°C.
In Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, Temulawak is considered as a panacea and is especially recommended in the treatment of abdominal complaints, liver disorders and gout attacks. Having considerable anti-inflammatory properties, Curcuma xanthorrhiza is also used in traditional products for haemorrhoids, skin rashes, infected wounds and eczema. Whilst it is effective for so many ailments, it is very often an ingredient in ‘jamus’ recipes – which are a typical Indonesian kind of elixir or liquid remedy.
In Southeast Asia, temulawak is a highly appreciated food ingredient because of its spicy and bitter taste, which is stronger than that of turmeric. Sliced rhizomes are cooked with vegetables. As it enhances flavours, dried, cooked pieces are also used to make soft drinks with palm sugar.
Curcuma xanthorrhiza CO2 extract
Unlike turmeric, which is characterised by the presence of turmerones, our temulawak contains xanthorrhizol (which has extremely interesting properties) and various other molecules like curcumenes and borneol (which are either not present in turmeric or are present in much lower quantities).
Also, Curcuma xanthorrhiza is quite close to Curcuma zedoaria or even Curcuma
heyneana, but only the first one contains a sufficient amount of xanthorrhizol.
Flavex guarantees a high xanthorrhizol content in the extract and a minimum
of total curcumenes. Moreover, the Flavex CO2-extract is pesticide controlled
and practically free of heavy metals. Unlike regular essential oils, CO2-extraction
leaves the active ingredients in their original form, which means they are neither
isomerised nor decomposed.
Curcuma xanthorrhiza enhances the flavour of spicy and nutty tastes. It blends beautifully with garlic and mustard, and can be used to perfection as an ingredient in mayonnaises, soups and sauces, particularly given its affinity with tomatoes.
Concerning sweet foods, its honey fragrance which is somewhere between cardamom and ginger, brings out the full flavour of fruit. Temulawak is, for instance, remarkable with quince or apple. Moreover, its recognised antioxidant properties, combined with its antibacterial activity, reinforce the action of food preservatives.
Slimming, anti-tumour and detox properties
This food ingredient can claim to have many properties, but its most accurate use would be in detox and slimming formulae, given both its hepato-protective activity and its power to enhance the metabolism of lipids along with their excretion.
The effectiveness of temulawak in the lowering of blood plasma lipids has been proved in rabbits, together with an increased fat excretion into the faeces. This process can be explained by an acceleration of the lipid metabolism from extra-hepatic tissues to the liver, thus improving the excretion of cholesterol and lipids via the bile.
The metastasizing process in tumours is one of the major causes of death in patients with cancer. In a very recent piece of work done by Koreans in Seoul, xanthorrhizol showed an anti-metastatic potential in experimental mouse lung metastasis models. In this experiment, at a rate of 0.5 mg/kg of xanthorrhizol, tumour mass formation was decreased by 97 percent – an almost complete inhibition. Moreover, after tumour formation was effective in another group, the tumour nodules decreased by 60 percent.
Coming back to cancer, a potent and widely used chemical drug to fight it is Cisplatin. Unfortunately, at a high dosage this molecule shows nephro-toxicity and hepato-toxicity. In association with 100-200mg/kg xanthorrhizol, Cisplatin became less toxic for the liver and the kidneys even if we disregard its specific anti-cancer properties. Many other hepato-toxic chemical drugs like paracetamol could benefit from being associated with Curcuma xanthorrhiza extract, which would reduce the impact of serious side effects.
Finally, with the forthcoming European regulations on health food claims (2007), it is going to be possible to use a claim concerning a decrease in the risk of diseases. The same goes for a decrease in the likelihood of having cancer, with the help of Curcuma xanthorrhiza extract and its extraordinary anti-metastasic activity.
Oral care ingredient
Streptococcus mutans is probably the main bacterium responsible for bad teeth. However recent studies have shown how powerful xanthorrhizol is against Streptococcus mutans in particular and against oral pathogens in general, eradicating quickly the germs even in very low dosage. It is interesting to note that even if almost all Curcumas are reported to be used in the case of bad breath in ethno-botanical studies, Curcuma xanthorrhiza has the advantage of having measured antibacterial activity.
Given the fresh camphor-like taste of Curcuma xanthorrhiza and its traditional use in food, the light coloured Flavex CO2-extract is perfectly suitable for toothpaste, chewing gum, mouthwashes and breath fresheners without any restrictions.
Further information can be obtained by visiting www.flavex.com.