encyclopedia

Galangal Root (Chinese Ginger)

Scientific Names:     

Alpinia officinarum HANCE [Fam. Zingiberaceae]     

Forms:     

Coarsely cut, dried rhizome for making infusions; galangal rhizome tincture.     

Traditional Usage:     

– Anorexia
– Antibacterial
– Antifungal
– Anti-immuno-inflammation
– Anti-inflammatory
– Antioxidant
– Antispasmodic
– Appetite Loss
– Bile Stimulant
– Bone and Joint Conditions
– Catarrh (mucous)
– Cellular Regeneration
– Cleansing
– Colic
– Detoxification
– Digestive Disorders
– Dyspepsia
– Ear Infections
– Flatulence
– Gastrointestinal Disorders
– Indigestion
– Vascular Disorders     

Overview:     

Galangal rhizome, Alpinia officinarum HANCE [Fam. Zingiberaceae], otherwise known as Chinese ginger, colic or East Indian root, is a spice used largely in the East. It is native to Southern China and Thailand but was introduced to Europe in the 9th century. Traditionally, galangal rhizome is used for treating flatulent colic and indigestion. The German Commission E approves galangal for treating dyspepsia and lack of appetite. Galangal rhizome is also used in the traditional medicine of Saudi Arabia for the treatment of rheumatism, acute bone and joint disorders and other forms of inflammation. Researchers have found that galangal contains high concentrations of a powerful antioxidant flavonol called galangin that is capable of modulating enzyme activities and suppressing the genotoxicity of chemicals. Researchers conclude that galangin is a promising candidate for chemoprevention of abnormal growths. Gingerols and diarylheptanoids of galangal also inhibit prostaglandin and leukotriene biosynthesis and may be beneficial for preventing immuno-inflammation, although one study on rat paw edema did not find significant activity. St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), who was one of the foremost herbal authorities of her day, regarded galangal so highly as a medicine that she wrote that it had been given to humanity by God to provide protection against illness, and she recommended it particularly against abnormal growths, vascular conditions, chest pain and deafness caused by catarrh or infection. Physicians in Germany who have taken up Hildegard Medicine as their calling have reported that galangal is as effective as nitroglycerin, but it has absolutely no harmful side effects. Hildegard, with her mystical vision, was the first and thus far the only herbalist to note the effect of galangal as a chest pain reliever: Whoever has heart pain and is weak in the heart should instantly eat enough galangal, and he or she will be well again.     

Active Ingredients:     

Galangal rhizome contains: 0.5-1.0% volatile oil containing sesquiterpenes and alcohols together with a small amount of eugenol; pungent substances formerly called galangol containing diarylheptanoids; gingerol; flavonoids including quercetin and kaempferol; sterols and sterol glycosides.     

Suggested Amount:     

Galangal infusions are recommended with the dosage of 0.5-1.0g of the coarsely cut or powdered rhizome per cup of tea, with a cupful taken half-an-hour before each meal. Boiling water is poured over the drug and allowed to steep for 5-10 minutes covered, and then passed through a tea strainer. The daily dose of tincture corresponds to 2-4 grams of dried rhizome; the powdered rhizome can also be taken with the same dosage recommendation as above.     

Drug Interactions:     

None known.      

Contraindications:     

None known.      

Side Effects:     

None known.      

References:     

Heo MY, Sohn SJ, Au WW. 2001. Anti-genotoxicity of galangin as a cancer chemopreventive agent candidate. Mutat Res. 2001 May; 488(2): 135-50. Review.
 
Kiuchi F, Iwakami S, Shibuya M, Hanaoka F, Sankawa U. 1992. Inhibition of prostaglandin and leukotriene biosynthesis by gingerols and diarylheptanoids. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1992 Feb; 40(2): 387-91.
 
Naiman, Ingrid, 1997. Stress: The Cause of Disease. Paperback reprint edition Vol. 1 (03/97) Seventh Ray Press; ISBN: 1882834011. Website: Kitchen Doctor. Awakening to the Awareness of the Need to Grow Old Gracefully. http://www.kitchendoctor.com
 
Ray PG, Majumdar SK. 1976. Antifungal flavonoid from Alpinia officinarum Hance. Indian J Exp Biol. 1976 Nov; 14(6): 712-4.
 
Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Galangae rhizoma – Galanga (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 217-219.