Aromatic and spicy, galangal has “curried” favor (and flavor!) with Asian cooks down through the centuries. A genuine palate pleaser, this herb has retained a major role in Thai cuisine to this day, being found in numerous curries and soups. A true exotic, galangal also wears several hats as a natural healer, and it has even gained a special place among practitioners of spiritually based magical systems. There is a greater and a lesser species of galangal, with the former found mainly in the kitchen and the latter being better suited as a green medicine.
What does it do?
Galangal shares family ties with the popular spice, ginger. Given this connection, it is not surprising that galangal and ginger share similarities in the appearance of their medicine-rich rhizomes (roots), and they possess many of the same healing capacities.
Galangal and ginger are quite effective in subduing motion sickness and fainting spells. This botanical imparts a warm sensation to the midsection, being excellent in dealing with a variety of stomach ailments. Galangal has been proven to reduce platelet aggregation, and in this capacity, it acts favorably to help prevent blood clots and heart attacks. Caution must be used in this regard, however, if one is already taking blood-thinning medications.
As with many other spices, galangal has been used as an aphrodisiac. During ages long past this herb was worn or carried to improve psychic abilities and to maintain physical well-being. Placed in a sachet with silver, it was believed to have the power to attract money. Its usage was also thought to improve one’s chances for having favorable legal outcomes.
About the herb
Native to China and Indonesia, galangal is noted for its pungent, spicy taste. As Far Eastern trade conquered European markets over one thousand years ago, galangal and other exotic plants rode the wave of enthusiasm for all things Oriental that flooded Continental kitchens. Germans used it for bowel spasms and angina, while Russians still flavor vinegar and the liqueur Nastoika with this fascinating root.
Upon boiling a cup of water, add half teaspoon of powdered galangal rhizome and steep for 15 minutes. One to three cups daily helps maintain a calm digestive system. This brew has been proven effective in addressing Candida albicans. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid using galangal.