Science and Technology News

Investigation and study of species in genus Curcuma L. in Central Highlands


Curcuma (L.) is one of the genus providing many species used to make medicines. As of 2011, 11 of 19 species of curcuma have had their bodies and roots used for making medicines for different gastrointestinal diseases such as abdominal pain, flatulence, stomach pain, and stomach inflammation and ulcerative. In particular, some species can inhibit cancer cells, such as Curcuma aeruginosa Roxb, C. angustifolia Roxb, C. aromatica Salisb, C. cochinchinensis Gagnep, C. harmandii Gangep, C. kwangsiensis S.G. Lee & C.F. Liang, C. longa L, C. pierreana Gagnep, C. trichosantha Gagnep, C. zanthorrhiza Roxb, C. zedoaria (Berg.) Rosc. Additionally, some curcuma species is also used to treat liver related diseases such as jaundice, liver dysfunction and liver congestion, chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, enlarged liver and spleen.
In Vietnam, some curcuma species are cultivated for life and research. The biological activity of some species in nature such as black curcuma, natural black curcuma, golden root art, and white curcuma are studied. However, there are still many other wild specimens that have not been studied for their biological active ingredients. On the other hand, a number of new curcuma species serving scientific research have been discovered in the central and Central Highlands of Vietnam, showing the need for investigation, research and collection of scientific data for species belonging to the curcuma.

Recognizing the importance of the study of species in the curcuma genus, the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology has assigned the subject “Investigation and study of species in the curcuma L. in the Central Highlands” – Code: VAST 04.10/15-16, chaired by Dr. Nguyen Quoc Binh of the Vietnam Museum of Nature, from January 2015 to December 2016, extended until June 2017.

After two years of implementation, the subject has provided a list of 20 species of curcuma in the Central Highlands, adding a new turmeric, Curcuma singularis Gagnep, along with two new compounds known as Curcusin A (MC- 460) and Curcusin B (MC-461). The subject has collected 42 specimens of 11 signs collected in the Central Highlands. The samples were mounted on cardboard for preservation and serving reports at the Vietnam Museum of Nature.

The main results of the project are:

  • Developing a database of curcuma in the Central Highlands which includes 20 species, accounting for 66.6% of total curcuma species in Vietnam (30 species). Of which, Dak Lak reports the largest number of species (10 species = 50%), Gia Lai has the lowest number of species (6 = 30%) compared to the total number of curcuma species in the Central Highlands.
  • Identifying the scientific name of “Healthy Tree” or “Ginseng” is curcuma singularis Gagnep, belonging to the curcuma genus (Ginger family), which complements the Vietnamese flora, distributed in Kon Tum and Gia Lai provinces. 5 health remedies from “healthy tree” of Ba Na people were investigated.
  • Research on the chemical composition of “Healthy Tree” has identified 47 compounds (62.96% of total essential oil). The main compounds are camphor (23.63%), isoborneol (2.24%), endo-borneol (3.06%), terpinen-4-ol (3.51%), copaene (2.56%), acoradiene (2.89%) and turmerol (2.65%).
  • Treating plant samples, extracts and fractions of “Healthy tree” isolated eight compounds from “Healthy tree” and the structure of these 8 compounds were identified: 3-hydroxy-4-methoxy benzoic acid (MC-450), 1,7-bis (3,4-dihydroxyphenyl) heptane-3,5,7-triol (MC-460), 1-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-7-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl) heptane-2,4,5,6,7-pentaol (MC-461), rugosic acid B (MC-438), 2,3-butanediol (MC-467), meso-2,3-butanediol (MC-468), furan-2,3-diol (MC-471) and ethyl-β-D-glucopyranoside (MC-472). In particular, two compounds Curcusin A (MC-460) and Curcusin B (MC-461) are two new compounds, isolated from nature for the first time.
  • Etanol extract and the extracted fractions (n-hexane, chloroform and ethyl acetate) of “Healthy tree” showed weak sEH inhibitory effect; water segment extracts showed the most promising effect to inhibit the enzyme activity of the enzyme sEH. The two new diarylheptanoid compounds (Curcusin A and Curcusin B) exhibited strong sEH inhibitory activity, in which Curcusin A can inhibit sEH enzyme activity with the value IC50 = 35.5 ± 2.3 µM. Therefore, Curcusin A needs attention and development

 flowers and parts of “Healthy Tree” - Curcuma singularis Gagnep

In addition, some results of the research have been published in domestic and foreign magazines, as follows:

  1. Nguyen Quoc Binh, Nguyen Phuong Hanh, 2015, morphological characteristics of some medicinal species (Curcuma) which have the function of producing medicine in the Central Highlands. The 6th National Conference on Ecology and Organic Resources: 1044-1049. Scientific and Technological Publishing House.
  2. Nguyen Manh Cuong, Doan Thi Van, Ninh The Son, To Dao Cuong, Pham Ngoc Khanh, Nguyen Quoc Binh, Tran Thi Viet Thanh, Ji Sun Lee, Ah Reum Jo, and Young Ho Kim, 2017, Inhibitory Effects of Novel Diarylheptanoids and Other Constituents of the Rhizomes of Curcuma singularis on the Catalytic Activity of Soluble Epoxide Hydrolase. Bull. Korean Chem. Soc. Vol. 38, 112–115. (SCI).
  3. Nguyen Quoc Binh, Hoang Anh Tuan, Nguyen Van Dat, Tran Thi Viet Thanh, Nguyen Phuong Hanh, Nguyen Manh Cuong, Nguyen Trung Thanh, 2017, A new record Species for Flora Vietnam - Curcuma singularis Gagnep. (Zingiberaceae). Journal of Science, Natural Science and Technology, Vietnam National University - Hanoi, Vol. 33, No. 1: 25-29.

The subject was rated good by the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology on October 9, 2017.

Tranlated by Phuong Huyen
Link to vietnamese version

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