Galangal is an Asian spice that looks very similar to ginger root. In fact, galangal and ginger are related and are both rhizomes, but they have different tastes. While ginger is pungent, hot and slightly sweet, galangal tastes more of citrus and earth. They indeed can’t be used as substitutes for each other in cooking. It is also known as Thai ginger or Siamese ginger and is found in many Malaysian, Indonesian, and Thai dishes. You can differentiate between galangal and ginger by examining them carefully. Galangal has smoother, paler skin than ginger, and cannot be grated because its flesh is so hard. But apart from being eaten for its flavorful addition to various foods, it is also consumed for its many health benefits.
One of the most significant health benefits of galangal is its ability to fight and, perhaps, prevent some cancers and tumors. A growing body of scientific evidence shows that it affects various types of cancer. For example, one study found that galangal extract destroyed a significant proportion of gastric cancer cells within two days. Although more research needs to be done, galangal extract appears to kill acute monocytic leukemia cells. In another study, three compounds extracted from galangal root were found to stop the growth of new melanoma cells. A similar result was found with pancreatic cancer.
Inflammation is often at the root of disease. Science shows that chronic inflammation relates to developing many diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. Galangal root has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body in general. It can also act on specific inflammatory conditions. Inflammation is a leading feature of arthritis. A study found that subjects who took a compound that included galangal extract experienced significantly less knee pain, a decrease in the need for medications, and improved overall status. Mastitis, painful inflammation of the nipple during breastfeeding, reacts well to this root's extract and might be a future treatment for this condition.
Galangal has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is effective against food-borne bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, staphylococcus and listeria. It is even able to fight amoxicillin-resistant strains of E. coli. If you eat shellfish, cook it with this root to reduce your risk of catching vibriosis, a viral infection found in uncooked shellfish. The bacterium H. pylori is said to affect around two-thirds of the world’s population. It causes stomach ulcers, and if detected by a doctor, is usually eliminated with antibiotics. Galangal, however, reduces the H. pylori bacteria in the stomach, and may even help to prevent stomach ulcers from developing.
Perhaps due in part to its anti-inflammatory capabilities, galangal might protect the health of the brain. It contains a compound called ACA which is believed to reduce age-related cognitive degeneration. Chronic inflammation is now linked to depression. Galangal can help fight depression by dealing with the inflammation associated with the condition. In an animal study, the root was found to reduce free radicals associated with Alzheimer-type amnesia. It also enhanced performance and memory. People with Alzheimer’s disease have low levels of a substance called acetylcholine. This chemical helps messages to pass between nerve cells. Galangal has been found to stop the breakdown of acetylcholine.
One of the oldest uses for it in medicine is to treat an upset stomach. Diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and hiccups get treated with galangal in Ayurvedic medicine and other Asian cultures. European spice merchants were introduced to galangal in the 9th century. They soon learned of its ability to soothe abdominal problems. Galangal also treats flatulence and morning sickness and has been used to treat seasickness and nausea by sailors. It is beneficial in treating digestive ailments as well as cases of constipation. It can also be used to stimulate the appetite in cases of anorexia, to treat indigestion, colic and stomach aches.
In Ayurvedic medicine, it is often used to treat heart disease. It is said to reduce cardiac contractions and output by increasing the supply of blood to the gastrointestinal system and other organs. Studies have shown that these spicy rhizome influences heart activity because it fortifies the heart’s muscle contractions and influences frequency. Galangal has a dromotropic effect on the heart, which means it positively affects the conduction of electrical impulses in the heart. It also has a bathmotropic impact on the heart muscle. This means that it increases the responsiveness of the heart muscle to stimulation.
The ayurvedic medicine, it is used to treat problems with the scalp and hair. If applied to the scalp, it is found to increase blood circulation. This stimulates hair growth. It is thought that many fatty acids found in galangal might be helpful in preventing hair from thinning. When mixed with jojoba oil and applied to the scalp, galangal juice is said to be very useful for preventing hair loss as well as promoting hair growth. It also helps to prevent the hair from becoming dry and brittle. The root's extract also helps prevent split ends, while giving the hair a pleasant fragrance and eliminating dandruff.
It has been suggested that there has been a decrease in sperm quality in the West. With decreased sperm quality comes the possibility of infertility. Couples wishing to conceive where sperm quality low related issues have only IVF as an option. Other, less invasive methods to improve sperm quality are therefore essential. Various clinical trials have shown that galangal has the potential for increasing fertility. The way it does this is to generate spermatogenesis, the creation of sperm, thus increasing sperm count. It also increases sperm motility, which is a movement of the sperm cells.
Galangal is believed to have immune-boosting properties. A study in China even showed that galangal tea might prevent HIV from replicating, although more studies are needed. Research has shown that it contains polysaccharides, which are long strings of sugars. These sugars have a stimulating effect on the reticuloendothelial system. This network of cells and tissues is found throughout the body, in the blood, connective tissue, liver, lungs, spleen and more. It also plays a role in inflammation and immunity. Galangal has been found to increase the number of spleen cells, as well as fulfilling many other immune-boosting functions in the body.
Skin burns react almost magically to this root. If you burn yourself, apply galangal juice to the wound for immediate relief from pain. It also helps to heal an injury. You can reduce scarring by rubbing the burnt area with fresh galangal slices 3 or 4 times a day. This process takes up to 12 weeks, but you will be able to see a difference. Galangal is said to inhibit the aging process of the skin. As it contains at least 40 different kinds of antioxidant, it helps to slow down the aging process by protecting the skin from free radical damage.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.