Health Benefits of Xanthorrhizol

Written by Lisa Rennie

Xanthorrhizol is a compound found in Java turmeric, also known as Curcuma xanthorrhizza Roxb, and has been shown to have a variety of health benefits. [1]

Java turmeric has a distinctive aroma and yellow-colored fruits, and xanthorrhizol is the most abundant and active compound in the essential oil of the plant’s rhizomes. The compounds of Java turmeric — including both curcumin and xanthorrhizol — have long been used in the traditional medicine of Southeast Asia.

The plant originates from Indonesia, but has been cultivated in the Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, and has been used to treat health issues including liver disorders, jaundice, fatigue, constipation, abdominal discomfort, sores, malaria, amongst other maladies.

While the plant and its constituents have been used as natural health products since ancient days, they have more recently been the focus of scientific research across the globe. On its own, xanthorrhizol has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, and anti-cancer properties. But the effects of xanthorrhizol on the body can be strengthened in the presence of curcumin. This synergistic effect on the body can be beneficial and may play a role in modern medicine, particularly when it comes to the potential to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Researchers believe that xanthorrhizol may help inactivate certain protein transcription factors and kinases in skin cancer brought on by microbial infections. [2] It’s estimated that approximately 15% of global cancer cases are associated with microbial infection. [3] Further research into xanthorrhizol’s potential role in suppressing microbial infections linked to cancers may provide new insight into the compound’s ability to treat the disease.

Some studies also suggest that xanthorrhizol may play a role in dental health. The compound has previously demonstrated a significant antibacterial effect against cavity- and periodontitis-causing bacteria. [4] Xanthorrhizol may also help to prevent the formation of dental plaque and can be effective in removing oral bacterial biofilms. [5]

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1- Oon SF, Nallappan M, Tee TT, et al. Xanthorrhizol: a review of its pharmacological activities and anticancer properties. Cancer Cell Int. 2015;15:100. Published 2015 Oct 21. doi:10.1186/s12935-015-0255-4. [times cited = 72; journal impact factor = 5.149]

2- Chung WY, Park JH, Kim MJ, et al. Xanthorrhizol inhibits 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate-induced acute inflammation and two-stage mouse skin carcinogenesis by blocking the expression of ornithine decarboxylase, cyclooxygenase-2 and inducible nitric oxide synthase through mitogen-activated protein kinases and/or the nuclear factor-kappa B. Carcinogenesis. 2007;28(6):1224-1231. [times cited = 92; journal impact factor = 4.944]

3- Kuper H, Adami HO, Trichopoulos D. Infections as a major preventable cause of human cancer. J Intern Med. 2000;248(3):171-183. [times cited = 721; journal impact factor = 8.989]

4- Hwang JK, Shim JS, Pyun YR. Antibacterial activity of xanthorrhizol from Curcuma xanthorrhiza against oral pathogens. Fitoterapia. 2000;71(3):321-323. [times cited = 102; journal impact factor = 2.882]

5- Rukayadi Y, Hwang JK. In vitro activity of xanthorrhizol against Streptococcus mutans biofilms. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2006;42(4):400-404. [times cited = 66; journal impact factor = 2.858]


About the author

Lisa Rennie

Lisa Simoneli Rennie has been working as a freelance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content dedicated to informing consumers. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with others, and in her spare time, Lisa enjoys trying funky new recipes, spending time with her dog, and of course, reveling in the joy of family.

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