Galangal for Cancer

Other names: Galanga, Galengale, Galingale, Garingal

Over a thousand years ago, Galangal was first introduced into Europe by Arabian physicians for the treatment for gas, indigestion, vomiting, and stomach pain. Much like its relative Ginger, Galangal was used by seamen for treating seasickness. Galangal is aromatic and mildly spicy, and in fact, the mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, called it the ‘spice of life given by God to ward off ill health. In Indian and Chinese herbalism, it is thought this herb has stomachic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, and nervine properties. In Chinese medical studies, it was found that Galangal has antibacterial actions against numerous pathogens, one of which is anthrax.

Today, Galangal is still used for treating motion sickness. In Chinese medicine, Galangal is used for treating abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and hiccups. In Indian medicine, this herb is used for the same conditions plus dyspepsia, rheumatoid arthritis, and intermittent fever. Scientific studies have shown Galangal to have anti-fungal actions which are effective in treating candidiasis. An infusion of this herb is also used to alleviate canker sores and sore gums.

The rhizome (root) of galangal resembles ginger in taste and appearance. One serving (64 g) of galangal contains 45 calories and 2 g of dietary fiber. It is also a source of sodium, iron, vitamins A and C. It also has some phyto-chemicals such as beta-Sitosterol, Galangin, Emodin and Quercetin. It is predominantly found in Asian markets and sold fresh, frozen, dried, or powdered. Galangal is also well known in European medieval cooking. Only a pinch of dried and powdered versions are typically needed.

Galangal is frequently used in fish and shellfish recipes in combination with garlic, ginger, chilli, and lemon.

There are three varieties of galangal- Greater Galangal, Lesser Galangal and Kaempferia Galangal. Different galangal varieties vary in their hotness and flavor.

Galangal has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activities. Researchers have proposed the benefits of galangal in certain inflammatory conditions. Recently, Korean scientists isolated six diarylheptanoids from the rhizome of Alpinia officinarum or galangal. All these compounds demonstrated inhibitory activities on nitric oxide production in lipopolysaccharide-activated macrophage cell line RAW 264.7.

Furthermore, these compounds suppressed expression of the inducible NO synthase protein and mRNA. Separately, Japanese researchers prepared 80% aqueous acetone extract of the galangal. This extract was found to contain diarylheptanoids and galangin and it was also able to inhibit nitric oxide (NO) production in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated mouse peritoneal macrophages. These findings including results from some other studies are important to understand galangal’s anti-inflammatory activities.

Galangal may benefit people at risk of cancer. In a study of COR L23 lung cancer and MCF7 breast cancer cell lines, UK researchers showed the anti-cancer activities of galangal extracts. Galangal contains a flavonoid-galangin. Galangin has shown to have anti-oxidative and free radical scavenging activities. It modulates enzyme activities and suppresses the genotoxicity of chemicals.

Galangal also has a volatile oil. Researchers have shown this volatile oil could enhance effectively the skin permeation of 5-fluorouracil.

Galangal may have benefits of lipid-lowering. Researchers from China found that the galangal extract could potently inhibit fatty-acid synthase (FAS, E.C. They proposed the inhibitory mechanism is related to the activities of the main flavonoids existing in the galangal such as galangin, quercetin and kaempferol. While, Korean researchers showed a pancreatic lipase inhibitor, 5-hydroxy-7-(4′-hydroxy-3′-methoxyphenyl)-1-phenyl-3-heptanone (HPH), from the rhizome of Alpinia officinarum significantly lowered the serum TG level in corn oil feeding-induced triglyceridemic mice, and reduced serum triglyceride (TG) and cholesterol in Triton WR-1339-induced hyperlipidemic mice. Finally, another group demonstrated an ethyl acetate fraction of Alpinia officinarum rhizome containing 3-methylethergalangin was a potent lipase inhibitor in a study of hyperlipidemic mice.

Galangal may help emesis. Japanese researchers found an ingredient of galangal has enti-emetic activities in chicken. According to London researchers from the King’s College, eating spicy Thai curry or other Thai food spiced with Galangal, could restrain the growth of cancer cells. Tests have revealed that Galangal (Alpinia galanga) a ginger-like root know as Kha or Siamese ginger and in Thailand mostly used to flavor many Thai food dishes, appears to kill cancer cells. A scientific team from the King’s College in London, believes the galanga root can not only fight human cancer cells but also protect healthy cells from developing into cancer cells.

Galangal, the ginger-like root, is used as an alternative treatment for stomach cancer in most of Thailand and also taken as an aphrodisiac.

The London researchers who tested galangal-root extracts on breast and lung cancer cells uncovered that the Thai herb reduced incidence of the disease more than three-times. Experiments have proven the claim that galangal could treat cancer. But we need to conduct more tests, said Professor Peter Houghton, study leader of the King’s College scientific team.

Galangal is used to relieve flatulence, dyspepsia, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and motion sickness. It’s also used to treat fevers, colds, cough, sore throat, bronchitis, infection, rheumatism, and liver and gallbladder complaints. Used to inhibit prostaglandin synthesis. Used as an antibacterial and antispasmodic. Also used as a spice because of its pungent and spicy flavor and as a perfume. Used in homeopathic medicine as a stimulant.

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

Galangal Preparation & Storage

Use like ginger, powdered, bruised or crushed. One slice of the root is equivalent to half a teaspoon of powder. Generally small quantities are specified in recipes, laos being used in larger amounts than kencur. The powders should be stored in airtight containers and used within a short space of time.

Galangal Dosage

Galangal comes in various forms and is an ingredient in many products. To use as an infusion, take a ½ teaspoonful of the powdered root in 1 cup of boiling water. Let is set 10-15 minutes before drinking. Drink 3 times a day. For use as a tincture, take 1-2 ml 3 times a day.

Rhizome: 2 to 4 g by mouth every day.

Galangal Safety

Taken in the recommended doses, Galangal is warming and mildly stimulating to a weak digestive system; however, exceeding the recommended doses can cause stomach irritation. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not known.

Galangal Forms

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

Galangal 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.

Galangal Precautions

High doses of essential oil may cause hallucinations. Acid-inhibiting drugs, such as antacids, sucralfate, H2 antagonists, and proton pump inhibitors, may interact with this herb due to alpinia’s increase of stomach acid.

Pregnant and breast-feeding patients should avoid use.

Avoid this herb if you have a chronic digestive tract disease.

Galangal hasn’t been thoroughly tested as a treatment for rheumatic disorders or fungal infections. Until more research is done on its benefits and potential risks, medical experts won’t recommend it.

Buy Garangal Products Online

Search for Galangal Products

Galangal Research Links

Galangal News Archive 2005

Thai curry ingredient has anti-cancer properties

Share/Bookmark this!