Galangal: properties, benefits and uses
Galangal, benefits and properties. Image: Nirundon Shutterstock

Belonging to the same family as ginger, galangal is a plant known for its potential medicinal and culinary uses. With its significant beneficial properties, it is definitely worth trying to figure out what it is, what its traditional uses are, its health benefits, and how to take it.

What is galangal?

Galangal has long been used as a culinary spice and medicinal plant. Native to Southeast Asia, where it has been an important part of many Asian cultures, it tastes and aromas similar to that of ginger root.

The spicy and aromatic qualities of galangal make it an ideal ingredient in various traditional dishes such as soups and rice.

There are two types of galangal commonly used in cooking and as a medicinal plant: greater galangal (Alpinia galanga) and lesser galangal (Alpinia officinarum). In particular, the latter played a key role in feeding, with its reddish appearance and roots reminiscent of long, slender fingers.

Galangal root.

Along with ginger, the medicinal use of galangal spread to Europe through trade routes with Asia. In more modern times, however, ginger has become famous and galangal has become relatively unknown to Western markets.

But this has not always been the case. Indeed, there were times when galangal played an important role in Europe, and in particular in the Middle Ages. It is believed that the practice of monastic medicine used galangal to cure a variety of ailments, and that some believe this root had miraculous powers.

The use of galangal in Western healing traditions continued from monastic medicine to traditional German medicine and then spread to other equals on the old continent.

Properties and benefits of galangal.

The medicinal effects of galangal are particularly extensive. For example, it has remarkable antimicrobial and antioxidant properties; However, since galangal and ginger are closely related, it is not surprising that the health benefits of the former are very similar to those of the latter.

More specifically, the active organic compounds found in the galangal plant include flavonoids, tannins, and essential oils, which work separately and in combination to generate a wide variety of positive effects on the human body.

For example, flavonoids and tannins, which are often what make foods bitter, along with essential oils, are why galangal is considered such a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herb. Therefore, characteristics have been attributed to galangal:

  • Antioxidants
  • Anti-inflammatory.
  • Antibacterial
  • Antivirals.
  • Antifungals
  • Antihypertensive, as it can lower blood pressure.
  • Pain relief.

Given the above, it’s no surprise that galangal ended up being included in a long series of treatments:

  • Arthritis, rheumatism, joint and muscle pain and sprains,
  • Sickness.
  • Digestive problems, such as gas, diarrhea, and upset stomach.
  • Respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, cough and sore throat.
  • Topical treatment as an antifungal.
  • Treatment of chronic halitosis.
  • Antioxidant and relieves colds.
  • Exhaustion, fatigue and weakness.
  • Stimulation of appetite,
  • Lowering blood pressure and improving circulation.

Of course, all of these beneficial properties have not been sufficiently analyzed by traditional medicine and, therefore, before becoming too familiar with this plant, we recommend that you speak and consult your doctor.

How to use galangal.

While galangal can also be used in topical applications, most of the health benefits are achieved by eating the root raw, dried, or powdered. You can store fresh galangal roots for weeks in the refrigerator.

Galangal powder is obtained from dried roots, which are crushed. Freshly ground galangal powder can be used for sauces, curries, soups. Or you can add small amounts of galangal powder while cooking.

Remember to always consult your doctor before starting any treatment with herbal remedies.