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14 Fascinating Benefits Of Galangal

Resembling ginger in so many ways, galangal or galanga is a part of the ginger family. The rhizome is known for its ability to heal a number of health problems, without the burden of any side effects. Scientifically termed as Alpinia galanga, the root has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years[1] . It is commonly used in traditional Eastern medicine, as it shares the ultimate healing property of its cousin, ginger. Along with these, the root has a central place in traditional Chinese medicine as well.

galangal image

[Source: Naturalfoods]

Commonly used in Asian cooking for its digestive healing properties, galangal is dubbed as 'the spice of life'. A spice and a cure for a plethora of health conditions, galangal can be accorded as being equally beneficial in the culinary as well as the medicinal field [2] . The miracle root and the health benefits it encompasses have been studied by various researchers. The impact galangal has in preventing the onset of various types of cancer gave it an elevated level of importance in the medicinal world.

The preventive herb can help cure digestive problems to bad breath, as well as maintain a balance of the bodily juices [3] [4] . Read on to know more about the deluge of little known benefits of the herb. It will leave you immediately wanting to incorporate the herb into your diet!

Nutritional Value Of Galangal

100 grams of the herb/root has 71 calories of energy.

It also has the following nutrients[5]

  • 15.3 grams carbohydrates
  • 1.2 grams protein
  • 1 gram fat
  • 2.4 grams fibre
  • 11.8 milligrams sodium
  • 5.4 grams vitamin C
galangal nutrition

Types Of Galangal

The rhizome is found in two different varieties [6] .

Lesser galangal

Scientifically termed as Alpinia officinarum, lesser galangal plays a distinctive role in the Hildegard's Medieval Diet. It belongs to Southeast Asia. This type of galangal has a reddish texture, and its roots resemble long, slender fingers. It grows up to 3 feet in height.

Greater galangal

Scientifically termed as Alpinia galanga, greater galangal is native to Indonesia. Compared to its other variety, greater galangal is bigger in size. It can grow up to 6 feet in height and has darker skin, and pale flesh [7] .

Health Benefits Of Galangal

1. Fights cancer

One of the most significant benefits possessed by the herb is its potential as a cancer-fighting agent. Various studies have already been conducted, and are still being conducted to reveal galangal's ability to fight and prevent the onset of different types of cancer and tumours [8] . Galangal is proven to have the ability to prevent gastric cancer, leukaemia, melanoma, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, liver (hepatic) cancer, and cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer).

Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the herb aids in lowering the damage caused to the DNA by the free radicals and other toxic elements [9] [10] . The presence of a flavonoid known as galanin plays a central role in preventing the onset of cancer as it modulates the enzyme activity and destroys the genotoxicity [11] .

2. Improves blood circulation

The herb is asserted to have the ability to flush out the toxins present in your body. By doing so, galangal enhances the blood circulation and allows the entrance of nutrients into the skin tissue. Likewise, the antioxidant property possessed by the herb prevents the harmful toxins from being deposited in your body. As the unwanted toxins are removed from your body, the activity of your circulatory system is improved [12] .

3. Relieves digestive issues

Galangal is rich in dietary fibre and phytochemicals that aid in improving your digestion. It helps in managing digestion-related issues, as it reduces the secretion of salivary and digestive acids. Individuals suffering from an ulcer can use galangal to get relief from digestion-related problems [13] . It is also known to provide relief from anorexia and abdominal pain. Apart from this, it is also said to possess the ability to cure enlarged spleen and the strong odour of the herb can help in treating nausea.

The carminative effect of galangal can help relieve flatulence as well. One other digestion related benefits of the herb are that it can be used as a cure for diarrhoea, due to its antibacterial effect [14] .

4. Improves cardiovascular health

In ayurvedic medicine, the herb has been used as a preventive method for heart diseases and any risks related to your cardiovascular system. Galangal helps in improving your heart health by reducing the cardiac contractions and cardiac output by increasing the blood supply to all your vital organs. It is used as a cure for strokes and other heart-related diseases [15] .

5. Controls asthma

Galangal possesses the ability to treat issues related to your respiratory system. The antispasmodic effect possessed by the herb aids in reducing the sputum, as well as dilates the bronchioles to reduce the levels of asthma. Likewise, the anti-inflammatory property of the herb is beneficial in controlling as well as curing conditions such as asthma and acute respiratory distress syndrome [16] .

6. Reduces blood lipid and cholesterol

Flavonoids such as kaempferol, quercetin, and galanin present in the wonder herb play a major role in lowering your cholesterol levels as well as the levels of blood lipid [17] . The extracts of galangal are asserted to have the ability to fight off fatty-acid synthase, thereby reducing the levels of cholesterol as well as the triglyceride [18] .

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7. Increases fertility

The herb galangal is pointed out to have the ability to improve sperm count and male fertility. Studies have asserted that the galangal root can improve the sperm count as well as the motility. A 2014 study conducted by the Iranian Journal of Reproductive Medicine on the impact of the herb on male fertility concluded that the application of the herb increased the number of motile sperm by three times [19] .

8. Improves cognitive function

The presence of purified 1'acetoxychavicol acetate (1'ACA) in the herb is asserted to be responsible for improving your cognitive function [20] . That is, the component has cognitive-protecting effects which can also help in limiting the onset of age-related brain degeneration. The anti-inflammatory property possessed by the herb is also responsible for supporting good brain health [21] .

9. Elevates immunity

Being an antioxidant, the herb plays a significant role in strengthening your immune system. Various studies have revealed that the polysaccharide extract found in the herb has the ability to stimulate an effect on the reticuloendothelial system. This in result has increased the number of spleen cells and peritoneal exudates, which are directly responsible for improving your immune system. Some studies have pointed out that the herb acts as an anti-HIV element [22] .

10. Reduces fever

The antibacterial, as well as the antifungal property possessed by the herb, is extremely useful in reducing fever. It is a highly effective home remedy for fever and cold. The herb is also beneficial in relieving cough, and sore throat [23] .

11. Cures arthritis

As aforementioned, galangal has amazing anti-inflammatory properties that make it beneficial in the treatment of arthritis [24] . The anti-inflammatory substance such as gingerols present in the herb inhibits prostaglandin synthesis, which works in reducing the symptoms of arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis[25] .

12. Treats sea, motion, and morning sickness

Chewing on a fresh piece of galangal is known to have an amazing benefit to your body. One of such benefits is its ability to cure morning, motion as well as seasickness. The fragrant oil present in the herb helps the condition by calming your nerves [26] .

13. Improves skin quality

The antifungal property possessed by the herb is beneficial in curing skin problems and allergies. It can be used to cure other types of skin problems such as eczema, burn and itchy skin. The presence of vitamin C[27] in the herb helps in rejuvenating the skin cells, thereby protecting your skin from signs of ageing. It prevents the onset of blemishes, dark spots and acne.

14. Improves hair quality

The antifungal property possessed by the herb is useful in treating and removing the dandruff problem. Galangal kills off dandruff causing fungi and strengthens your hair from the root. By cleansing your hair off dandruff, it helps in improving and strengthening your scalp. This helps in limiting the amount of hair fall as well [28] .

Difference Between Galangal And Ginger

Although both of the roots belong to the same family and share some similarities in appearance, they both have contrasting properties [29] .

ginger vs galangal

How To Use Galangal

There are several ways to make use of the herb for your consumption.

  • You can chop up the roots, and make a decoction of it.
  • You can grind dried galangal into powder form.
  • You can ground the herb with other paste ingredients.
  • For soups, you can slice it without peeling the skin off.
  • You can add whole slices of the herb to your dish, but strain it out before serving as the fibrous root is hard and inedible.

Healthy Galangal Recipes

1. Galangal tea

Ingredients [30]

  • Fresh galangal root, peeled and sliced or minced
  • 400 ml of water
  • Honey for taste

Directions

  • Add water and galangal in a pan.
  • Bring it to boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer it for 30 minutes.
  • Strain the galangal from the tea.
  • Add honey for taste.

2. Galangal-Jamu (For digestion)

Ingredients

  • 3 limes
  • ½ litre water
  • 2 sticks of lemon grass
  • 4 tbsp grated galangal root
  • 6 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped peppermint leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric
  • 1 drop of peppermint oil
  • 5 drops of orange oil

Directions

  • Remove the skin of the lime and place it in water.
  • Bring it to boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer, until the colour of water turns to green.
  • Add in the grated galangal root, lemon grass, and chopped herbs.
  • Cook it for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from heat and add the turmeric.
  • Add the lime juice.
  • Then, add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

3. Lettuce wraps (exotic diabetic recipe)

Ingredients

For the stuffing

  • ½ tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp finely chopped galangal
  • ¼ cup chopped spring onions with the greens
  • ¼ cup chopped mushrooms
  • ¼ cup finely chopped carrots
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cabbage
  • ¼ cup chopped bean sprouts
  • ¼ cup chopped tofu
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp dry red chilli flakes
  • salt to taste

Other ingredients

  • 6 lettuce leaves
  • 2 tbsp peanuts, roasted and coarsely ground
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions

For the stuffing

  • Heat the oil, add the garlic, ginger and spring onions and sauté till the onions turn translucent.
  • Add the mushrooms, carrots and cabbage.
  • Mix well and sauté on a medium flame for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the bean sprouts, tofu, lemon juice, soya sauce, salt and red chilli flakes.
  • Mix gently and sauté on a medium flame for another minute.
  • Divide the stuffing into 6 equal portions and keep aside.
  • Wash the lettuce leaves, dry them and keep aside.
  • Place a portion of the stuffing along one side of the leaf.
  • Add ½ tsp of peanuts and ½ tsp of basil over the stuffing.
  • Roll it up gently and secure the roll by inserting a toothpick.
  • Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 5 more wraps.

Side Effects

  • Avoid the herb if you are pregnant and breastfeeding [31] .
  • It may increase your stomach acid, so it is best to avoid it if you are suffering from GERD or peptic ulcer.
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