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Herbs & Botanicals

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Galanga (gao liang jiang)

What is galanga? What is it used for?

Galanga is a member of the ginger family native to Thailand and other parts of southeast Asia. It is similar to common ginger, except that the root of galanga is usually denser and more knobby than ginger root.

The typical galanga root is ivory or pale yellow in appearance, with pink tips. It has a hot and spicy taste, and is one of the primary spices used in most types of Thai cooking. The roots and rhizomes are used medicinally.

In traditional Chinese medicine, galanga is associated with the Spleen and Stomach meridians, and has pungent and hot properties. It warms the middle jiao, alleviates pain in the stomach, and treats cold-related diarrhea and hiccups. Taken orally, galanga is used to reduce inflammation, fight off bacterial infections, and treat fevers.

How much galanga should I take?

The amount of galanga to be taken depends on the condition being treated. Traditionally, most practitioners recommend between 1.5 and 9 grams, taken orally.

What forms of galanga are available?

Whole, sliced galanga roots can be found at some Asian markets and herbal shops. The roots are usually packed in brine and stored in glass jars, although dried galanga root is also available in some places Galanga is also available as a powder

What can happen if I take too much galanga? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

As of this writing, there are no known side effects associated with large doses of galanga, nor are there any known drug interactions. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take galanga without first consulting a licensed health care professional. As always, however, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking galanga or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.

References

  • Anand PHM, Hariharan M. In vitro multiplication of greater galangal (Alpina galanga (Linn.) Willd). A medicinal plant. Phytomorphology 1997;47(1):45-50.
  • Blumenthal M, et al (eds.) The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, TX: The American Botanical Council, 1998.
  • Fetrow C, Avila J. Professional's Handbook of Complementary and Alternative Medicines. Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Corporation, 1999.
  • Peter KV. Handbook of Herbs and Spices, vol. 2. Woodhead Publishing, 2004.
  • Poth S, Sauer G. The Spice Lilies: Eastern Secrets to Healing with Ginger, Turmeric, Cardamom, and Galangal. Healing Arts Press, 2000.

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