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Galangal: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

By Dr Ashok Pal +2 more

Introduction: 

Galangal, scientifically known as Alpinia galanga, is a herbal plant. It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family. It is widely cultivated in many countries such as China, Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka. It grows well in hot temperatures and abundant sunlight. However, it grows equally well in bushes, jungles, and open areas. It grows up to 3.5 cm tall and has underground roots. Depending on the species, these underground roots, also known as rhizomes, may be reddish-brown, whitish-yellow, orange, or pink. These rhizomes grow 2.5 to 10 cm long with an upright stem-like structure covered with leaves. The leaves are oval, pointed, bifurcated, and smooth, while the flowers are white buds on a green-coloured base. The fruits of galangal are reddish-orange with a capsule shape. Galangal may show potential uses like protecting the liver, strengthening the immune system, fighting allergies, managing digestive troubles, and many more.1

galangal

Did you know?

  • Galangal has been found to have potential anti-cancer effects in laboratory studies. source: cancer.gov
  • Galangal has been shown to have potential anti-fungal effects in laboratory studies. source: ncbi
  • Galangal may help reduce nausea and vomiting, especially in pregnant women. source: ncbi
  • Galangal is generally safe for consumption, but high doses may cause stomach upset. source: ncbi

Nutritional Value of Galangal: 

The flowers of Galangal have the following nutritional value.2 

Nutritional components Value 
Total energy 27  ± 0.79 kcal 
Protein 1.41  ± 0.04% 
Carbohydrate 3.64  ± 0.22% 
Fibre 3.58  ± 0.54% 
Fat 0.85  ± 0.09% 
Calories from fat 7.65  ± 0.50 calories 
Potassium 589  ± 0.89 mg 
Calcium 41  ± 1.42 mg 
Table 1: Nutritional value of 100 grams of edible Galangal flowers2 

Also Read: Tamarind: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Researchers have found that the essential oil of Galangal has significant antipsychotic and antioxidant agents. In my opinion, this property may be effective in coping with schizophrenia.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Properties of Galangal:

Galangal has various properties, such as:

  • It may act as anti-microbial
  • It may act as an antioxidant (acts against free radicals)
  • It may show anti-inflammatory property
  • It may help enhance immunity
  • It may help protect the liver
  • It may show anti-allergic properties (helps to fight allergic reactions)
  • It may show anti-cancer properties
  • It may act as an antiplatelet agent (helps to prevent blood clots)
  • It may help enhance digestion1

Also Read: Kantakari: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, and More!

Potential Uses of Galangal:

Galangal has many potential uses ranging from managing stomach issues to various other conditions. Some of the potential uses of galangal are described as follows:

Potential Uses of Galangal for bacterial infections

Studies have shown that galangal extracts have effectiveeffectively prevented the growth of various microbes such as S. pyogenes, K. pneumoniae, S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, and E. coli in various lab studies. Oil extracted from the root of galangal could inhibit the growth of many bacteria such as P. multocida, P. aeruginosa, E. rhusiopathiae, S. suis, E. coli, A. pyogenes and S. aureus during a lab trial. The anti-bacterial activity of the galangal root may destroy the bacterial cell membranes and lead to the clotting of the fluid inside the bacterial cell.1 However, you should avoid using galangal for any infections without consulting your healthcare provider. Using herbs to treat bacterial infections without consulting a physician can worsen the situation.

Potential Uses of Galangal for fungal infections

The antifungal action of galangal has been observed in several studies. Many studies reported that galangal could be an alternative to conventional antifungal drugs. In lab studies, its alcohol extracts could show considerable inhibition of the growth of fungi such as C. albicans and T. longifusus.1 If you are suffering from fungal infections, avoid using galangal without consulting your doctor. Using galangal or any other herb for fungal infections may worsen the situation.

Potential Uses of Galangal for diabetes

Animal studies have shown that galangal could be helpful in diabetes. In laboratory studies, the alcohol extracts of galangal have been shown to reduce the blood sugar level in animals with diabetes. Galangal may help reduce low-density lipoprotein levels in the blood shows the potential role of preventing diabetic complications related to the heart.3 Diabetes is a serious medical illness that requires you to adhere to doctor’s advice and treatment strictly. Avoid using galangal or any other herb to manage diabetes without consulting your doctor.

Potential Uses of Galangal for the stomach

Alcohol extracts of galangal have been shown to reduce secretions from the stomach, thereby protecting the stomach cells and eventually preventing the formation of ulcers during many lab trials. The galangal root may be used to manage various stomach issues such as pain, loose motions, ulcers, and indigestion. It may also be a tonic for the digestive system and helps soothe the stomach.One f you are suffering from stomach ulcers or other conditions, you need to consult a healthcare provider first.  Avoid using galangal for stomach problems without consulting a physician.

Other Potential Uses of Galangal

  • In animal studies, galangal has been shown to protect the liver against toxicity caused by the intake of large amounts of certain drugs. This may indicate its potential benefit for the liver.
  • It may help stimulate the immune system.
  • It may help prevent the growth of cancer cells in the skin’s pigment cells.
  • It may prevent allergic reactions. Galangal may manage rheumatism, asthma, heart diseases, and liver and kidney issues.
  • The root of galangal contains a compound that may help fight the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

These uses of galangal have been observed during lab trials. There is a need for further studies to establish the mentioned effects of the galangal on human health.

Also Read: Pudina: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, and more!

How to Use Galangal?

Galangal can be used in the following ways:

  • All parts of galangal are used as an ingredient in the food. It is used to add flavour and spice to the food.
  • The flowers can be used as a seasoning or as the main constituent in soups, salads, sweet dishes, main courses, and drinks. They are also used for making traditional meat-based foods.1,2
  • The roots of galangal can be brewed to make tea.4

You should always consult your Ayurvedic physician before consuming galangal for regular use. They will be the best person to prescribe the correct form and dosage for your health condition. Also, do not discontinue or replace an ongoing modern medicine treatment with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor. 

Also Read: Kokum: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects And More!

From my knowledge, some parts of the Galangal herb may aid in the management of common cold. Galangal is known for its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may help to cope with common cold.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Side Effects of Galangal:

As far as the side effects of galangal are concerned, no significant study has been documented.1 However, if you experience any adverse reactions to consuming it, immediately contact your Ayurvedic physician who has prescribed it. They will be able to treat you appropriately. You are advised to avoid using galangal as medicine without consulting with your Ayurvedic physician. 

Precautions to Take With Galangal:

Since all parts of galangal are used in different ways in food, it is generally considered safe if it is taken in the recommended dosages. However, general precautions have to be followed while consuming galangal. Children, elderly people, pregnant women, and lactating mothers should always be careful while consuming galangal. The advice of the Ayurvedic physician who prescribed galangal to you must be strictly followed.

Also, avoid using galangal as medicine without consulting your doctor or ayurvedic physician.

Interactions With Other Drugs:

Reactions of galangal with any other medicinal drugs have not been reported. However, there is no particular evidence to state that galangal is safe to use for all age groups. There are also not enough studies to confirm that galangal has no interactions with other drugs. Therefore, it is best to follow the advice of your Ayurvedic physician who has prescribed you this herb.

Also Read: Sesame Seeds: Uses Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can galangal be used instead of an antibiotic to fight infections?

Studies have shown that galangal has anti-microbial properties and is a good substitute for antibiotics.1 However, your Ayurvedic physician is the best person to decide whether galangal can be given instead of antibiotics to you. You are advised not to use galangal or any other herb to fight off infections without consulting your physician.

Is Galangal a spice?

Yes. Flowers of galangal can be used as a spice in many foods.2

What are the different ways to use Galangal flowers?

Galangal flowers can be used in fresh and blanched forms in different foods. They can also be boiled to form a drink.2

Can Galangal be used for constipation?

Yes. Flowers of galangal have a high content of dietary fibre, which can help in reducing the chances of constipation.2 However, you are advised not to use any herb for medical conditions without consulting your physician. If you are suffering from constipation or any other health issue, you should reach out to your healthcare provider and get proper consultation. 

Do Galangal roots and flowers have the same constituents?

No. The composition of galangal flowers is different from galangal roots. However, the flowers and galangal roots have the same properties of fighting microbes.1

References:

  1. Khairullah AR, Solikhah TI, Ansori ANM, Fadholly A, Ram SC, Ansharieta R, et al. A review of an important medicinal plant: Alpinia galanga (L.) willd. Syst Rev Pharm [Internet]. 2020 Nov 1 [cited 2022 May 27];11(10):387-95. Available from: https://www.sysrevpharm.org/articles/a-review-of-an-important-medicinal-plant-alpinia-galanga-l-willd.pdf
  2. Rachkeeree A, Kantadoung K, Suksathan R, Puangpradab R, Page PA, Sommano SR. Nutritional Compositions and Phytochemical Properties of the Edible Flowers from Selected Zingiberaceae Found in Thailand. Front Nutr [Internet]. 2018 Feb 1 [cited 2022 May 27];5:3. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5799243/
  3. Verma RK, Mishra G, Singh P, Jha KK, Khosa RL. Anti-diabetic activity of methanolic extract of Alpinia galanga Linn. aerial parts in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats. Ayu. 2015 Jan;36(1):91. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4687247/
  4. Mazaheri M, Shahdadi V, Nazari BA. Molecular and biochemical effect of alcoholic extract of Alpinia galanga on rat spermatogenesis process. Iran J Reprod Med [Internet]. 2014 Nov 1 [cited 2022 May 27];12(11):765-70. Available from: https://europepmc.org/article/PMC/4330656

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