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Galangal root

Benefits, uses, and side effects of galangal root

Galangal root, closely related to ginger and turmeric, has various benefits and is safe for consumption. Here, we review its benefits and safety and compare it to ginger and turmeric.

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Galangal root: Health benefits, risks, and overview
Last updated on March 4, 2024, and last reviewed by an expert on October 19, 2023.

Galangal root hails from Southern Asia and shares family ties with ginger and turmeric. It’s a staple in Ayurvedic and Chinese traditional medicine.

Galangal root: Health benefits, risks, and overview

Galangal comes from the roots of plants in the Zingiberaceae family. The most common type is the lesser galangal or Alpinia officinarum.

Like its relatives ginger and turmeric, you can consume galangal either fresh or cooked. You’ll find it spicing up various Chinese, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Thai recipes.

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People also turn to this spice to enhance health. It’s said to treat infections, minimize inflammation, support male fertility, and potentially combat some cancers.

This article delves into the benefits and potential risks of galangal root and contrasts it with ginger and turmeric.

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Health benefits of galangal root

Historically, galangal root was a go-to remedy for several health problems. Recent studies give weight to some of these traditional uses.

Galangal root is packed with antioxidants

Galangal root boasts a high antioxidant content. Antioxidants are vital plant elements that guard against diseases and shield your cells from harmful free radicals.

This root is particularly loaded with polyphenols. These antioxidants are connected to perks like enhanced memory and decreased blood sugar and bad cholesterol.

Both ginger and turmeric, galangal’s kin, are also brimming with polyphenols and share similar health rewards.

Yet, there’s a lack of direct evidence tying galangal root to these benefits. Further studies will help clear the air.

Galangal root may protect against certain cancers

Galangal root could play a role in shielding against some cancers.

Lab tests have shown that galangin, a compound in galangal root, could eliminate or hinder cancer cells.

One research pointed out its potential to eradicate specific human colon cancer cells. Other findings hint at its combativeness against breast, bile duct, skin, and liver cancer cells.

However, these lab results don’t always mirror real-life scenarios. More human-centered studies are essential.

Galangal root may enhance male fertility

Some studies suggest galangal root might give male fertility a boost.

Animal research found improved sperm count and movement in rats after giving them galangal root extract.

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Moreover, a study involving 66 men with poor sperm quality showed that daily intake of a mix of galangal root and pomegranate extract led to a significant rise in sperm movement. However, it’s uncertain whether galangal root or the pomegranate extract played the major role.

Further studies with humans are required to clarify this.

Galangal root might alleviate inflammation and pain

Galangal root could counter harmful inflammation. It contains HMP, a natural compound that lab and animal studies suggest has strong anti-inflammatory traits.

Plants from the Zingiberaceae family, galangal included, seem to offer some pain relief, often associated with inflammation.

In a study of people with knee osteoarthritis, a significant portion who consumed a mix of ginger and galangal extract felt less knee pain. Yet, we need more research centered on galangal root alone.

Galangal root could guard against infections

Galangal root essential oils might combat various microorganisms.

This root could extend the freshness of some foods. Including fresh galangal root in your meals could lessen the risk of vibriosis, which comes from consuming raw shellfish.

Additionally, some lab tests hint that galangal root can tackle harmful bacteria, including notorious ones like E. coli and Salmonella Typhi. Its efficiency, however, seems to fluctuate.

Some findings also suggest its potency against fungi and parasites, but this is still up for debate.

Summary: Galangal root is antioxidant-rich and might support male fertility, decrease inflammation, and pain. It could also guard against infections and certain cancers, though more studies are warranted.

Comparing galangal root with ginger and turmeric

Galangal, ginger, and turmeric are relatives and are often used, whether fresh or dried, to spice up meals.

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While ginger gives a sweet yet zesty flavor, galangal comes across as sharper and more peppery. Turmeric stands out with its strong, slightly bitter taste.

All three spices share similar health advantages. They are packed with antioxidants and have properties that might alleviate inflammation, potentially easing joint pain.

Moreover, these spices have components that could ward off various cancers.

However, galangal root uniquely shows potential in enhancing male fertility. On the other hand, ginger’s ability to soothe nausea and promote stomach emptying is unmatched by either galangal or turmeric.

Studies have also linked ginger and turmeric to decreased risks of conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart ailments, memory loss prevention, and guarding against age-linked brain function decline. With their similarities, galangal root might offer the same health bonuses.

Summary: Ginger, turmeric, and galangal root all bring flavor to dishes and seem to offer overlapping health advantages. However, more research has delved into ginger and turmeric’s benefits compared to galangal root.

Cautionary notes and side effects of Galangal root

For centuries, galangal root has been a staple in both Ayurvedic and Chinese traditional medicine and is generally considered safe in regular culinary amounts.

However, there’s limited data on what constitutes a safe dose or any potential side effects when consumed in larger quantities, as seen in supplements.

In an animal test, doses as high as 909 mg per pound (2,000 mg per kg) of body weight led to severe side effects, like reduced energy, appetite loss, frequent urination, diarrhea, and even life-threatening outcomes. Yet, these issues weren’t present at much lower dosages of 136 mg per pound (300 mg per kg) of body weight.

Still, we need more details regarding galangal root supplements’ safety and potential effects on humans.

Summary: Typically, consuming galangal root in food quantities seems safe. However, the side effects of larger doses, like in supplements, remain unclear.

Summary

Galangal root, sharing similarities with ginger and turmeric, is a cherished spice in Ayurvedic and Chinese traditional medicine.

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Adding it to your meals not only enhances flavor but also supplies antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. It might offer numerous health perks, from enhancing male fertility to guarding against infections and possibly some cancers.

You might have to scout an Asian or specialty store for fresh galangal root, but its dried versions and powder are easily accessible, even online.

Incorporating this spice into your culinary adventures is definitely a good idea.

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