Galangal, a member of the ginger family, has been used for centuries in traditional medicine in various parts of the world. It is native to Southeast Asia and is commonly used in Thai, Indonesian, and Malaysian cuisine. Galangal is known for its aromatic properties and is widely used in cooking as a spice. However, galangal has also been found to have a range of health benefits, which have been studied in various scientific studies. In this article, we will explore the scientific studies of the health benefits of galangal.
What is Galangal?
Galangal, also known as Thai ginger or blue ginger, is a rhizome that is similar to ginger in appearance. However, unlike ginger, galangal has a pinkish-white color and a milder flavor. Galangal is commonly used in Asian cuisine, particularly in Thai, Indonesian, and Malaysian dishes. It is a popular ingredient in curry pastes, soups, and stir-fry dishes.
Galangal has been used for centuries in traditional medicine in various parts of the world. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties, which have been studied in scientific research.
Chemical Composition of Galangal
Galangal contains several phytochemicals, including flavonoids, alkaloids, phenolics, terpenoids, and tannins. Galangin and 1′-acetoxychavicol acetate (ACA) are the principal active chemicals in galangal. ACA is a strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic chemical that has shown efficacy in treating a variety of inflammatory illnesses. In contrast, galangin is a flavonoid with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects.
Moreover, galangal contains essential oils that contribute to its distinctive taste and scent. Complex mixtures of terpenes, sesquiterpenes, and phenolic chemicals make up these oils. Galangal essential oil contains the terpenes -pinene, -pinene, camphene, sabinene, myrcene, limonene, and terpinolene. Galangal oil contains the sesquiterpenes -caryophyllene, -humulene, and germacrene-D.
Additionally, galangal contains a variety of minerals and vitamins, including calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins A, C, and E. These nutrients are needed for excellent health maintenance and illness prevention.
Nutritional Value of Galangal
Galangal is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and other vital elements. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) lists the following nutrients in 100 grams of galangal:
- Calories: 250
- Carbohydrates: 58 g
- Protein: 3 g
- Fat: 1 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Vitamin C: 5 mg
- Vitamin E: 0.2 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.2 mg
- Folate: 35 mcg
- Calcium: 112 mg
- Iron: 2.5 mg
- Magnesium: 150 mg
- Phosphorus: 100 milligrams
- Potassium: 1,500 mg
- Zinc: 1 mg
As can be seen, galangal is an excellent source of carbohydrates, fiber, and numerous minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. In addition, it includes trace amounts of vitamins C and E, vitamin B6 and folic acid.
There are around 58 grams of carbs per 100 grams of galangal. Carbohydrates are the major source of energy for the body, and they are necessary for sustaining normal physical activities. Yet, complex carbs, such as those found in galangal, are preferable to simple carbohydrates, such as those found in refined sugar and processed meals. Complex carbs are metabolized more slowly by the body, providing a continuous supply of energy and aiding in blood sugar regulation.
Moreover, galangal is a good source of dietary fiber, with around 5 grams per 100 grams. Fiber is necessary for keeping a healthy digestive system and avoiding constipation. It may also decrease cholesterol levels and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Galangal contains soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and creates a gel-like material in the digestive system. This may help reduce the absorption of sugar and cholesterol, resulting to improved glucose and cholesterol management.
Calcium is an important element necessary for healthy bones and teeth. Galangal provides around 112 mg of calcium per 100 grams per 100 grams. Moreover, calcium is essential for muscular function, neuron transmission, and blood coagulation.
Iron is a vital mineral necessary for the formation of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in the body. Iron is abundant in galangal, with roughly 2.5 milligrams per 100 grams. Due to menstruation and pregnancy, women are at a greater risk of iron deficiency, making iron all the more important for women.
Magnesium is an essential mineral required for numerous bodily functions, such as muscle and nerve function, blood sugar regulation, and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium is abundant in galangal, with approximately 150 mg per 100 grams.
Health Benefits of Galangal
It has been discovered that galangal possesses anti-inflammatory qualities that may help decrease inflammation in the body. Inflammation is the body’s normal reaction to damage or infection, but persistent inflammation may lead to a variety of disorders, including arthritis, cancer, and heart disease.
Galangal extract decreased inflammation in rats with rheumatoid arthritis, according to a research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. The research shown that galangal extract decreased the levels of inflammatory markers in the blood of rats, indicating that galangal may be an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis in people.
In another research published in the Journal of Natural Products, galangal extract was shown to prevent the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in human cells. Inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α)were reduced by galangal extract, according to the findings of the research.
It has also been discovered that galangal possesses antioxidant capabilities, which may protect the body from oxidative stress. When there is an imbalance between the generation of free radicals and the body’s capacity to neutralize them, oxidative stress arises. Free radicals are chemicals that may harm cells and contribute to illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s.
According to a research published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, galangal extract has significant antioxidant activity. The research shown that galangal extract may eliminate free radicals and minimize oxidative stress in human cells.
In another research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, galangal extract was shown to protect human liver cells against oxidative stress. The research demonstrated that galangal extract decreased the amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in liver cells, which are chemicals that may cause oxidative damage.
Many bioactive components in galangal, such as flavonoids and terpenoids, have shown antibacterial effects. In a research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, it was shown that galangal extract had antibacterial action against a variety of bacterial and fungal species. A second research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food demonstrated that galangal extract prevented the development of acne-causing bacteria.
Also proven to be beneficial against oral infections is galangal extract. The development of the bacteria that cause dental caries and periodontal disease was prevented by galangal extract, according to a research published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology. Another research published in the Journal of Natural Products shown that galangal extract is efficient against the oral and vaginal infection-causing fungus Candida albicans.
4-Anti-Cancer Properties of Galangal
Several studies have investigated the anti-cancer properties of galangal. One of the key compounds in galangal is 1′-acetoxychavicol acetate (ACA), which has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. In a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers investigated the effects of ACA on human pancreatic cancer cells. They found that ACA inhibited the growth of cancer cells and induced apoptosis (programmed cell death). The researchers concluded that ACA could be a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
Another study published in the journal Cancer Letters investigated the anti-cancer properties of galangal extract in human colorectal cancer cells. The researchers found that the extract inhibited the growth of cancer cells and induced apoptosis. They also found that galangal extract inhibited the expression of genes involved in cancer cell proliferation and metastasis. The researchers concluded that galangal extract could be a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of colorectal cancer.
5-The digestive health of galangal
Galangal has been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory qualities, which may help decrease inflammation in the digestive tract. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease may result from inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract (IBD). By decreasing inflammation, galangal may aid in the treatment of various illnesses.
Galangal has been shown to have anti-ulcer properties that can help prevent the formation of stomach ulcers. Ulcers of the stomach are a common digestive disorder that can cause discomfort. Galangal may prevent the formation of these ulcers by lowering gastric acid production and protecting the stomach lining.
Galangal has traditionally been utilized in traditional medicine to treat nausea and vomiting. Several studies have investigated the anti-nausea properties of galangal and found it to be effective in reducing chemotherapy- and pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting.
It has been demonstrated that galangal has anti-diarrheal properties, which can help alleviate diarrhea. Diarrhea is a common digestive issue that can be triggered by a variety of factors, such as infections and food intolerances. Galangal may alleviate diarrhea by reducing inflammation and regulating intestinal motility.
6-Neuroprotective Properties of Galangal
The process of protecting the structure and function of neurons in the brain is referred to as uroprotection. It has been discovered that galangal has several neuroprotective properties that can protect the brain from damage caused by oxidative stress, inflammation, and neurotoxicity.
Galangal includes various antioxidant-rich chemicals, including flavonoids, phenolic acids, and terpenoids. Free radicals are extremely reactive chemicals that may cause oxidative damage to tissues, including neurons.
According to a research published in the journal Food Chemistry, galangal extract has a strong antioxidant activity and effectively eliminates free radicals. Another research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology discovered that galangal extract protected the brains of rats subjected to prolonged stress against oxidative damage.
Inflammation is a normal immunological reaction that aids in the body’s defense against diseases and injuries. Nevertheless, prolonged inflammation may cause tissue damage and contribute to the development of other illnesses, including neurological disorders.
It has been discovered that galangal has significant anti-inflammatory effects that may help decrease brain inflammation. A study published in the Journal of Natural Products discovered that galangin, a flavonoid compound found in galangal, inhibited the production of inflammatory cytokines in brain microglial cells.
Galangal extract reduced inflammation in the brains of rats exposed to chronic stress, according to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. Researchers discovered that galangal extract decreased the levels of inflammatory cytokines in the brain while increasing the levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Neuroprotective Against Neurotoxic Properties
Neurotoxicity refers to the damage that toxic substances cause to the neurons in the brain. It has been discovered that galangal has neuroprotective properties against neurotoxicity caused by numerous toxins.
According to a study published in the journal Neurochemistry International, galangal extract protected against the neurotoxicity caused by rotenone, a toxin that causes symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease in animals. The researchers discovered that galangal extract decreased oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain and protected neurons from harm.
Another study published in Phytotherapy Research discovered that galangal extract protected against the neurotoxicity caused by beta-amyloid, a protein that accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. In mice with Alzheimer’s-like symptoms, galangal extract decreased oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain and enhanced cognitive function.