You must have easily mistaken today’s spice as Ginger or even turmeric at the super market….. but after watching this video you will not only recognize it but will have tenfold more respect for this super herb.
Let’s start with exploring their similarities and differences:
Similarities: They all have cancer fighting properties, but galangal par exceeds ginger and turmeric. They have anti-inflammatory properties and belong to the ginger family. They are rhizomes or roots of ginger plant.
They may look similar at a glance, but careful inspection will reveal their unique characteristic appearances.
Flavor wise ginger is spicy with a very mild kick, but galangal is woody menthol, pine-like with a sharper sting. Turmeric has its unique signature earthy flavor with absolutely no kick.
They differ in their active medicinal ingredients,
Ginger contains gingerol,
turmeric contains curcumin whereas
galangal has galangal acetate.
While we are at the differences lets know that:
Ginger in dry ground form is sold as dry ginger powder,
turmeric as curcumin or turmeric powder but
galangal is sold as Laos powder.
Galangal is native to Java, Indonesia and grown in Southeast Asia including Thailand, Philippines, China and India. It is called Laos in Indonesia and Kulanjana in India. It is also named as “Thai ginger” or “Blue ginger”.
While Mexicans and Indians are fond of chili, Chinese prefer ginger, Thais love the spicy-hot sensation of galangal.
There are three types of galangal plants—
Greater, Lesser and kaempferia.
Greater Galangal is mainly used in cooking due to its mildest flavor of the three.
Lesser Galangal and Kaempferia have harsh taste, and thus are mostly used for therapeutic purposes and not in cooking.
Galangal in the kitchen
1. Greater galangal is used commonly used in curries, stir-fries and soups.
2. It is one of the main ingredients in red and green Thai curries.
3. It is most important ingredient of well-known Thai coconut chicken soup called “Tom Kha Gai” (Kha means galangal in Thai.)
4. Galangal is used in low alcohol- or alcohol-free beverages for the alcoholic burning mouth feel.
5. Galangal is used in one of the signature Indonesian yellow rice.
6. Grating a slight galangal in mayonnaise, sour cream or ketchup can add a unique spicy flavor.
1. Galangal is very effective against Arthritis
Galangal has a special set of anti-inflammatory compounds known as galangal acetate which is super effective against common inflammatory disease like arthritis.
According to one of the studies from the Journal of Arthritis and Rheumatism, researchers at the University of Miami gave galangal to 261 people for knee osteoarthritis.
The result after six weeks was astonishing. The people taking galangal had less knee pain on standing or after walking. They were taking less medicine for acute pain from arthritis, had less stiffness of joints, and could function better during the day. This study was quoted in the book Healing Spices by Bharat B Aggarwal.
2. Galangal against Cancer
Scientists from around the world have found Galangal’s cancer-fighting abilities. Galangin, a flavanol derived from galangal showed anticancer effects on some cancers, including skin cancer, liver cancer and colon cancer cells. They found out that a compound in galangal—acetoxychavicol acetate (ACA)—put off cancer genes and thus preventing the cellular growth of breast, skin, lung, and blood cancer.
In England, researchers found that a galangal extract not only activated enzymes that help cells, free themselves of cancer-causing chemicals, but it also killed cancer cells namely breast and lung cancer. According to the study leader, Peter Houghton, PhD, this double action is very rare among traditional anti-cancer medicines. He added that the medicines are either able to boost healthy cells’ natural defenses against cancer or kill cancer cells, but galangal was able to do both.
3. Galangal is a powerful brain booster
A compound in galangal—acetoxychavicol acetate (ACA) which helps turn off cancer genes is also beneficial in improving brain health. Thus, several studies suggest that galangal can be helpful in age-related brain deterioration and help against conditions like Alzheimer’s. It can also help increase blood flow to the brain, which can prevent from dementia and other brain disorders.
1. Consume 1 tsp of Laos powder with honey or warm water to treat sore throat, cold and cough symptoms.
2. Hold a small piece of galangal in mouth to get rid of bad breath and voice hoarseness.
3. Add 1 tsp of Laos powder to warm water and drink it to get rid of digestive issues.
4. Apply a paste of Laos powder and warm water to the joints to get rid of inflammation and join pain.
5. Rub the Laos powder over the gums or around the tooth to get rid of toothache and manage oral health.
6. Apply slices of galangal on acne affected area and skin blemishes. Galangal’s anti-septic and cleansing properties will help in getting smooth and clear skin.