Therapeutic Properties Described in The Aromatherapy Literature
From Essential Oils: A Handbook for Aromatherapy Practice1:
- Traditionally used by Thai massage therapists for joint and muscle pain
- High antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity
- Cooling action on swelling and inflammation
Plai in Research
While plai is a Thai variety of ginger, the composition of the essential oil is significantly different from that of ginger. Most notably, plai contains a large percentage of the compound 4-terpineol, which gives it many of its therapeutic properties. Studies on plai essential oil and 4-terpineol have shown that they possess significant anti-inflammatory2,3, anti-bacterial4,5, antifungal5, and antioxidant6 properties as well as anti-cancer potential7.
Summary of Research Studies
- 4-terpineol, the main component of plai essential oil suppresses the inflammatory immune response in human cells in vitro.2
- Plai essential oil was found to have significant anti-inflammatory activity when applied topically in rats.3
- Plai essential oil was tested against antibiotic resistant bacteria and was effective in killing the bacteria. The oil also had a synergistic effect with antibiotics, reducing the bacterial resistance.4
- An in vitro study showed that plai essential oil has strong antibacterial and antifungal activity in vitro.5
- Plai essential oil exhibited significant antioxidant activity in vitro, stronger than either lime or eucalyptus oils.6
- 4-terpineol, the primary compound in plai essential oil, was found to induced cell death in certain leukemia cell lines and may be important in future cancer drug development.7
Plai essential oil is considered non-toxic, non-sensitizing and non-irritating. It may be used 'neat' if the condition would benefit, but it can be therapeutically effective diluted in a carrier oil. As with all essential oils, patch test on skin before liberal application and if pregnant please consult a physician prior to use.
1 Rhind, Jennifer Peace, and David Pirie. Essential Oils: A Handbook for Aromatherapy Practice. Singing Dragon, 2012.
2 Hart, P. H., et al. “Terpinen-4-Ol, the Main Component of the Essential Oil of Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree Oil), Suppresses Inflammatory Mediator Production by Activated Human Monocytes.” Inflammation Research, vol. 49, no. 11, Nov. 2000, pp. 619–626., doi:10.1007/s000110050639.
3 Pongprayoon, U., et al. “Topical Antiinflammatory Activity of the Major Lipophilic Constituents of the Rhizome of Zingiber Cassumunar. Part I: The Essential Oil.” Phytomedicine, vol. 3, no. 4, Feb. 1997, pp. 319–322., doi:10.1016/s0944-7113(97)80003-7.
4 Boonyanugomol, Wongwarut, et al. “In Vitro Synergistic Antibacterial Activity of the Essential Oil from Zingiber Cassumunar Roxb against Extensively Drug-Resistant Acinetobacter Baumannii Strains.” Journal of Infection and Public Health, vol. 10, no. 5, 2017, pp. 586–592., doi:10.1016/j.jiph.2017.01.008.
5 Pithayanukul, P., et al. “In Vitro Antimicrobial Activity of Zingiber Cassumunar (Plai) Oil and a 5% Plai Oil Gel.” Phytotherapy Research, vol. 21, no. 2, Feb. 2007, pp. 164–169., doi:10.1002/ptr.2048.
6 Leelarungrayub, D., and M. Suttajit. "Potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of Thai plai (Zingiber cassumunar Roxb.) essential oil." International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics, vol. 3, no. 1, 2009, pp. 25-30.
7 Banjerdpongchai, Ratana, and Patompong Khaw-On. “Terpinen-4-Ol Induces Autophagic and Apoptotic Cell Death in Human Leukemic HL-60 Cells.” Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, vol. 14, no. 12, 2013, pp. 7537–7542., doi:10.7314/apjcp.2013.14.12.7537.