The Chinese system of medicine has traditionally placed great emphasis on the warming potential of the galangal herb; it has been traditionally used in the treatment of abdominal pain, in treating cases of vomiting, as well as in the treatment of persistent hiccups. Remedies made from the galangal are also used in the treatment of persistent diarrhea arising as a result of internal coldness in the body. The codonopsis and Ju ling herbs are combined with galangal to make the remedy for treating persistent hiccups in affected patients. The traditional medical systems of south western Asia and the Indian ayurvedic system usually employed the galangal herb as a remedy for treating problems of the stomach, the herb is considered to have an anti-inflammatory and expectorant action on the body, and it is also used as a nervine tonic in these cultures. Various maladies such as long term dyspepsia, and the presence of stomach pain, long term rheumatoid arthritis, and intermittent fever are treated using the herbal remedies prepared from the galangal. The first remedies made from the galangal came via Arabian physicians who brought them to Europe a millennium ago. Traditionally, the western herbal medical system saw the use of the galangal herbal remedies for the treatment of excessive abdominal gas, in treating indigestion, as well as in the treatment of persistent vomiting, and stomach pain in concord with its use in both the traditional Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. Relief from painful canker sores and sore gums can also be obtained by using a galangal based herbal infusion. Sea sickness is another condition, which has traditionally been treated using the remedies made from the galangal, the use of the herb in this role is not surprising as a close herbal relative the ginger is also used in treating motion sickness affecting different patients. The condition of intestinal candidiasis is often treated using an herbal combination therapy containing galangal and other similar herbs. A weakened digestive system is greatly aided by the galangal remedy when given at a moderate dose, at such doses the herbal remedy has a warming and gently stimulating effect over the disturbed digestive system, care should be taken when the galangal is used in this role as it can irritate the digestive system and worsen the condition if the remedy is given at higher doses.
The galangal herb belongs to the ginger family of plants. Galangal is an Asian species, and was originally found only in the grasslands along southern parts of China, and in some places in Southeast Asia in general. The cultivation of the galangal as a spice is now carried out in many tropical areas of Asia; it is also used as an herbal medicine in many medical systems unique to the Asian region. The herb grows best in shaded areas away from direct sunlight, it also needs well drained soils to grow in, and is usually propagated by dividing and replanting the rhizomes during the spring. Fresh as well as dried galangal rhizomes are used in the preparation of herbal medicines, normally only plants that are four to six years old are harvested for their rhizomes at the end of the growing season.
The bactericidal action of a decoction made from the galangal was observed during the course of research trials held in China, different pathogenic organism such as anthrax could be suppressed and resisted by the galangal. The effectiveness of the galangal against the fungal organism Candida albicans was observed in the results of a research published in the year 1988, the herb was seen to be distinctly antagonistic to the pathogenic organism.
Galangal rhizomes are rich in a complex of chemical compounds such as resins, a volatile oil, the compound called galangol, as well as the compounds known as kaempferid, the galangin and alpinin, and carbohydrates like starch among other classes of compounds. The acrid resin and the volatile oil form the main active chemical constituents in the herb. The compound known as galangin present in this herb is a dioxy-flavanol and has been synthetically obtained in the laboratory. All the active compounds present in the herb can easily be extracted out using alcohol and the fluid extract without mixing water and glycerin together.
Galangal is used and made into an herbal infusion; this is prepared by using half a teaspoonful of the powdered rhizome to infuse for ten to fifteen minutes in a cup of boiling water. Dosage of this herbal galangal infusion can be one dose of infusion taken thrice daily. Galangal is also made into an herbal tincture, and doses of one to two ml of the tincture are usually taken thrice daily for as long as necessary.
The rhizomes of the galangal are unearthed and collected in the early autumn and late summer in China, where the herb is extensively cultivated. Harvested rhizomes are carefully washed, and cut into segments and then dried for storage and processing into herbal medicine.