Since the dawn of human civilization until today, plants have given many benefits to human health and have became one important source of medicine especially in traditional medication. Some herbs are well known as best source of natural chemical compunds which have effects to human body. One of the herb that has been used familiarly is galangal. Galangal (pronounced guh-lang-guh) is plant from family Zingiberaceae and belong in same family with ginger (Benefits of ginger). The usage of galangal in medication and culinary field is originated from South Asian country especially Indonesia and Thailand. It has many common names in some countries. In Indonesia people called it as Lengkuas, or Laos (Javanese), Kha in Thailand, greater galangal in English, kulinjan in Hindi and riềng nếp in Vietnamese.
Definition of Plant
Galangal (Alphina galanga) is herbal tuberous plant from genus Alphina. It is sometime confusingly with Kaempferia galanga or Kencur. Galangal is perrenial plant which can grow around year with 1.8-2.1 m in height. The green leaves of galangal elongates 20 – 60 in length also 4 – 15 in width. Galanga has flowers that grows in a simple, formation, with terminal spike, white petals and deep-red veining distinguishing lippetal
While the rhizomes or roots are extrenally dark reddish – brown and ivory white inside with 1,5 to 3 inches length and can reach 3,75 inch thickness. They can almost grow in any place with many character of soil and they can best grow in open sunny spaces, forest or brushwood. Galangal has aromatic odour and pungent, spicy taste. This is why people love to use it in curry dish. The structure of galangal is hardly to break and need some effort to slice it.
Not only being used in Asia, galangal has also been used in Europe it has been brought in 9th century and they continue to use galanga as spice for more than thousand years. In Russia, galangal is used to give flavour to vinegar and “nastoika” vinegar. Galangal tea famous in some countries and has been used by brewers. Of Tartars tribe. In India the aromatic oil of galangal is used in permufery industry.
Per 100 gram of serving, galangal contains 70 calories and 3 grams dietary fiber. It is also reported that galanga rich in carbohydrate and less in fat. Researcher found that some phytochemical including flavonoid and phenolic acid are found as major content of galangal. Dominant component of galangal called as Galangoisoflavonoid. Galangal also contain other components such as beta-Sitosterol, quercetin, galangin, emodine, sodium, iron, and vitamin C
Beside the culinary use, galangal served many benefits to human health. Alternative medication such as ayurveda often use it as medicine to cure many problems. Later galangal has been proved scientifically by researchers contains many phytochemical which has abundant effect to maintain body health. Here are some amazing benefits of galangal that you should know :
1. Prevent inflammatory and Arthritis
Some studies shown that galangal contains anti-inflammatory substances called gingerols which inhibit prostaglandin syntesys and inhibit histaminic also serotonic pathways. This anti inflamatory respons of galangal can serve the beneficial in reduce the symptoms of arthritis and rhematoid arthritis treatment. Rematoid arthritis is a condition of joint disorder which caused by inflammation and as an effect of long lasting autoimmune disorder.
2. Relieves Discomfort which caused by digestive problem
The dietary fiber and phytochemical in galanga helps to increase the process of food mixing in stomach. It is also help to reduce salivary and digestive acid secretion which give problem to people with ulcers. Consuming galangal can give comfortable feeling to individual’s stomach who suffering ulcer. It is also believed galanga can prevents anorexia and abdominal pain. In Java island, Indonesia the fresh grated galangal is given on empty stowach by adding little salt. It is believed that grated galangal can cure enlarged spleen and relieve discomfort feeling in stomach.
Strong aromatic odor of galangal can treat nausea ( sensation of unease and discomfort in upper stomach which can cause vomiting). Beside those effects, galangal also suppossed to have carminative effect which relieving flatulance. There is no spesific recomended dosage of galangal but 1 gram of tuber can be use as carminative.
3. Get rid of sea, motion, and morning sickness
By chewing some galanga flesh, it is believed can cure motion sickness. The aromatic oil in galanga can stimulate and calming the nervous. Pregnant woman usually experience morning sickness. Drinking brewed galangal slices with warm water and honey can help to relieve morning sickness.
4. Cure for Diarrhoea
Galangal has anti bacterial effect which can get rid of pathogen bacteria and cure diarrhoea. A study by Sunilson, J. A. J. et al (2009) showed the antimicrobial activity of various extracts of galangal to some strain of food borne pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia coli,Salmonella enteriditis, Clostridium perfringens, Staphylococcus aureus, Campylobacter jejuni, Bacillus cereus which are the cause of diarrhoea.
5. Prevent from tumour and cancer
Galangal is host of many antioxidants substance which help to minimize DNA damaged caused by free radicals and other toxin component that enter the body. A study by UK researchers found that galanga extract has anti-cancer activities according to experiment with people who suffering lung and breast cancer. The most antioxidative component in galangan who fight with free radicals is flavonoid called galangin. Galangin can modulates the activity of enzyme and supresses chemicals genotoxicity. It showed that galanga is very potential herb which act as anti cancer. Other research also reported that the transconiveril diacetate, acetoxy chavikol acetat and asetoksi eugenol cetat can inhibit the pathway of Xanthin enzyme synthesize which trigger tumour development.
6. Lowering Blood lipid and cholesterol
Some researchers from China reported that galanga extract could potently inhibit fatty-acid synthase. Galanga supposed to inhibit the mechanism of fat synthesis by its flavonoid, such as galangin, quercetin and kaempferol. While researchers in Korea also showed that galanga extract significantly lowered the Triglycerde and cholesterol.
7. Preventing Heart Disease and Cardiovascular problem
In blood circulatory system galangal reduces the cardiac contractions, cardiac output by increasing the blood supply to the gastrointestinal system and other vital organs. In ayurvedic or indian medication, galangal often served as heart disease traditional drug. Galangal is found as the best home remedy to prevent heart stroke in German-speaking countries such as Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Even Dr Strehlew, the author of Bingen’s medicine mentioned galangal as a life saver from heart attacks. He is the one who promotes the usage of galangal in modern medication especially in promoting healthy heart to young generation.
8. Relieve Asthma
Galangal also has important role in maintaining healthy respiratory system. Galangan which has been used as drug has an antispasmodic effect that reduces the sputum (Kapha) and dilates the bronchioles in order to alleviates asthma. It can also be used for speech defects such as dysarthria, stammering and aphasia.
9. Reduce urination in polyuria or other urinedisorder
In urinary system galangal slightly reduces the ability of urine production and used as treatment in polyuria and other urine disorder.
10. In Genital system-It is used for impotency.
It is said that keeping a piece of galangal in mouth can promotes sexual desire. In Arabian countries galangal are used as aphrodisiac and people in South-East Asian countries often use galangal in the treatment of menstrual disorder
11. Protect the body from cold
External application and consumption of galanga powder reduces hypercspiration and coldness due to circulatory failure. An experience of doctor who travel in Nepal said that galangal is immediate reliever againts cold by improving blood circulatory and produce “warm feeling”
12. Relieve cough, sore throat and clearing sound
Galangal has expectorant action and is useful in many respiratory problem, especially for children who suffering from whooping cough. In India, people mix the galangal extract with hot water to relieve chest pain, sore throat and clearing voice. Just mix some galangal powder or brew the galangal slices in boiled water with lime. It can be a tonic which can relive cough and throat problem.
13. Strengthen hair roots and promotes healthy hair
The cardivascular effect of galangal also show the benefit to the growth of hair root. Healthy cardiovascular effect of galangal improves the transport of oxygen to hair root and enhance the strength of the hair.
14. Strengthen Immune System and Anti-HIV
Research has proven that polysaccharide extract of galangal which solved in hot water posseses a stimulating effect on the reticulo endothelial system (RES) cell development and increased the number of peritoneal exudates cells and spleen cells which play role in body immune system. A study by Ye Ying Li BaoAn in 2006 reported that 1′S-1′-acetoxychavicol acetate which isolated from galangal extract has Anti human immunodeficiency virus type 1 and blocking the replication of the virus.
15. Reduce blood sugar level
Galangal extract consumption produced significant decrease in blood sugar level. It has been proved by study to carried out the effects of Alpinia galanga rhizome in normal rabbits, ( study by Akhtar, M. S. et al in 2002, hypoglycaemic activity of Alpinia galanga rhizome and its extracts in rabbits )
16. Reduce symptom of osteoarthritis.
In a study which used randomized double-blind placebo controlled , the concentrated extract of galangal has been found to reduce symptoms and pain significantly in patients with osteoarthritis and suffer severe knee pain.
17. Protect the liver from toxicity of chemical
Supplement of galangal is also found has a potential effect to protect liver against chemical side effect such as the usage of paracetamol. So adding some galangal to your dish is one of best way to protect heart and liver. Isn’t it awesome news?
18. Prevent Alzheimer disease and mental fatigue
Alzheimer, a damage in brain function as one symptom of dementia is a devastating disease. Galangal has potential effect in preventing Alzheimer after some researcher found that galangal herb enhance cognitive and boost brain memory (Singh et al, 2011)
19. Increasing Appetite
Galangal herb can also be used to increase appetite and this is why some dish which use galangal is more tempting to be eaten and the effect of galangal in calming the digestive system can make someone enjoy the meal well.
20. Cure some skin problem and allergy
The roots of galanga can directly be used to rub some skin area which infected by fungi. In java, an island of Indonesia, people used to rub galanga in a white spot area caused by skin fungus which people in Indonesia called “panu” with galanga slice. It is also known that galanga can be used to cure other skin problem such as eczema, burn and itchy skin by applying the flesh on skin 2 – 3 times a day. If you have allergy to shrimp, fish or any othet seafood and it makes your skin itchy, drinking galangal tonic or tea everyday can slowly remove your allergy.
21. Keep the skin remain young
Maybe you did not know that some cosmetic industry use galangal extract in the effort to create anti-aging formula. Its not a big deal since we know that antioxidant that contained in galangal has great impact to prevent free radicals entering the body which also promotes aging. Vitamin C in galangal also play role in skin cells rejuvenation and keep the skin away from aging.
22. Get rid of Acne and acne scar
If you having problem with acne, galangal can be a home remedy to remove acnes and dark spot. Drinking galangal juice or rubbing the galangal flesh on skin can slowly reduce acnes and skin dullness.
23. Remove dandruff and scalp problem
Anti fungal effect of galangal can be applied to almost area of skin which infected by fungi none of the less the scalp. Fungi can infect the scalp and resulting dandruff. You can directly rubbing the it on scalp or mix some grated galangal with olive oil then spread it on the area of scalp which infected by fungi.
24. Relieve Catarrh
Catarrh is a condition of excessive mucous production in nasal cavity which caused by inflammation of the mucous membrane. Catarrh is a symptoms when a person suffer from cold or flu. The powder of galangal can be used as snuff that helps to get rid catarrh. Just solve 15-30 grams of galangal powder into hot water then sniff it.
25. Reduce ear pain
Sometime infection in ear disturb our activity and it can be severe if we just let the pain remain in ear. Galangal can help to reduce pain in ear which. cause by inflammation. Just greate some galangal and squeeze the liquid from it then drop it to your ear.
27. Keep the body stamina
In indonesia people used to mix galangal with other ingredients such as garlic, pepper, tamarind and etc to produce tonic which they called “jamu”. This tonic is believed can keep body stamina if being consumethree times a day and help to relives muscle fatigue.
Just like ginger, galangal or Lengkuas ( Indonesia) and Kha (Thailand) is known to be used in many culinary purposes. If you ever tasted indonesia or thai curry and you found a piece of ingredients that looks like ginger floating in curry and soup, yes its galangal and we should know how to consume and gain the benefits of galangal. Check these tips below :
- Galangal is commonly found in fresh, dried or powder. The aroma of galangal is more likely pine with pungent taste similar as combination of ginger and pepper.
- There are two ways to add galangal into your dish, by slicing or crush it. Galangal is more dense than ginger so it will be harder to grind and slice and need longer time to be cooked. Usually people mix galanga and crush it with garlic, shallot and chillies to give flavour in meat, fish or seafood curry.
- Before using galangal in your dish make sure you peel off the outer layer of galangal because the outer parts is inedible.
- You can store fresh galangal in cool dry place for about two weeks and dont forget to keep galangal moist if you keep it in fridge.
- Galangal powder does not provide simliar taste to fresh one but many people use is intead of fresh galangal because some inconvenience.
- If you purchase dried galangal, you need to soak it in hot water before use it.
- The best way to get the effect of fresh galangal is by grate it and squeeze the liquid then mix it with honey to give sweetness and better flavour.
Some medication using phytochemical compound from plant usually trigger side effect but there is no contraindication which reported based on galangal usage and no data found in the case of consuming galangal during pregnancy and lactation. So why not start to put galangal in your dish to add the taste and benefits to your health. In South Asian market, you can easily find it fresh because almost most area of South Asian countries especially Indonesia and Thailand can cultivate the plant while in America, galangal can be cultivated in hotter area such as California and Florida. You can also grow your own plant because its easy to grow galangal because it can grow in low land on 1200 m from sea surface with adequate sun exposure. Just stick the bud of galangal plant in to the ground, it can grow fast in during couple of weeks. Isn’t it interesting?