Scientific Name(s): Alpinia galanga., Alpinia officinarum Hance., Kaempferia galanga L.
Common Name(s): Ankaferd BloodStopper, Blue ginger, Chewing John, China root, Chinese ginger, East Indian root, Galanga, Galangal root, Greater galangal (A. galanga), Kulanjan, Laos, Lesser galangal (A. officinarum), Little John chew, Rhizoma galangae
Clinical trials are lacking, with the majority of support for therapeutic use relying on in vitro and animal data or anecdotal and traditional claims. Potential applications may arise from antimicrobial and antioxidant effects.
There are no clinical studies of galangal monotherapy to provide a basis for dosage recommendations. A combination of galangal and ginger rhizome extracts was used at a dose of 510 mg/day to improve pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Contraindications have not yet been identified.
Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
None well documented.
Clinical studies and case reports are lacking.
Information is limited.
Galangal is a reed-like perennial herb with stems growing up to 1 m high that are covered by sheaths of narrow lanceolate leaves. Its inflorescence is a short raceme of white flowers that are veined and shaded in dull red. The plant has been cultivated for the rhizomes in India, China, and Southeast Asia. Galangal rhizomes appear on the market as branched or simple rhizome fragments with wavy, reddish-brown annulations of the leaf bases that have an aromatic, spicy, and pungent odor and flavor. Galangal is from the same family as ginger, the Zingiberaceae, but the species are not equivalent, and also should not be confused with the unrelated "galingale" from the genus Cyperus.1, 2 A synonym is Languas galanga (L.) Stuntz.
The rhizomes of galangal and its derivatives have been used for their aromatic stimulant, carminative, and condiment properties, much like ginger, and are extensively used in Asian cuisine. Young inflorescences and leaves are eaten raw in salads in Asia. Galangal oil is used to flavor French liqueurs and is also used in some tobaccos. The "ginger" of Thailand is obtained from A. galanga. The large, ordinary, preserved ginger of China is also derived from A. galanga. A. galanga (greater galangal), containing the volatile oil essence d'Amali, is used in China and northern India for various respiratory complaints in children, particularly bronchial catarrh (mucous membrane inflammation). Other traditional uses include the treatment of rheumatism, ulcers, incontinence, fevers, microbial infections, bad breath, whooping cough, throat infections, and diabetes.2, 3
Galangal contains a greenish-yellow volatile oil composed of cineo; eugenol; sesquiterpenes; isomers of cadinene; a resin containing galangol, kaempferide, and galangin; as well as starch and other constituents. The rhizomes are abundant with flavonoids and phenolic acids, and reviews of the constituents have been published. 2, 3, 4
Uses and Pharmacology
Clinical trials are lacking, with the majority of support for galangal’s therapeutic use relying on in vitro or animal data or anecdotal and traditional claims.
In vitro antifungal activity has been described for galangal oils in older reports5, 6, 7, 8; however, a more recent in vitro study found no activity against Aspergillus niger or Candida albicans.9 Activity against a number of pathogenic bacteria has been shown in vitro for whole plant and crude rhizome extracts as well as for galangin and kaemferide,2, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and synergistic effects with antibiotics against resistant bacteria have also been demonstrated in vitro.16, 17, 18 The rhizome extract of K. galangal was also found to have some inhibitory activity on Helicobacter pylori in vitro with a minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) 25 mcg/mL.44 In vitro experimentation was conducted in H. pylori-infected gastric epithelial cells with 24 medicinal plants indigenous to Pakistan to evaluate their effect on secretion of interleukin (IL)-8 and generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in order to assess anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective effects. Although no significant direct cytotoxic effects on the gastric cells or bactericidal effects on H. pylori were found, rhizome extract of A. galangal was observed to have moderate and strong inhibitory activity on IL-8 at 50 and 100 mcg/mL, respectively, in H. pylori-infected gastric cells.45
In mice, a methanol extract of the rhizomes of A. galangal showed inhibitory activity against the malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei.19 Activity against the influenza virus was demonstrated in mice following oral administration of an A. officinarum extract.14
Research reveals no clinical data regarding the antimicrobial use of galangal.
In vitro studies have shown activity of galangal extracts against a variety of cancer cell lines. Active chemical constituents identified include galangin, 4-hydroxycinnamaldehyde, curcuminiods, and diarylheptanoids. Direct cytotoxicity, induction of apoptosis, and inhibition of tumor growth have been demonstrated.20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 Cytotoxic diterpenes have been found in the seeds of A. galanga.3, 6
A. galanga shows antitumor activity in mice.21, 23, 27
Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of galangal in cancer.
The ethanol extract of A. galanga decreased amnesia induced in mice with neurotoxins. A decrease in acetylcholinesterase and monoamine oxidase enzyme activity was observed.28, 29 An analgesic effect of A. galanga extract was demonstrated in mice using the hot plate and writhing tests.30
Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of galangal for any central or peripheral nervous system condition.
Antioxidant activity has been described for galanga crude extracts and for specific flavonols and phenols.9, 28, 29, 31
Anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating activity has been demonstrated for extracts of Alpinia rhizomes. Applications in arthritis have been suggested.32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 8 randomized clinical trials (N = 734) published before December 2014 found an overall moderate to large effect of Zingiberaceae extracts (including turmeric, ginger, and galangal) on chronic pain compared with placebo; however, substantial heterogeneity was found. Significantly lower subjective pain was reported with the intervention (P = 0.004). A strong dose-response relationship was also demonstrated. Patient groups included 3 studies in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip, and 1 study each in patients with gonarthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, muscle soreness following exercise, postoperative pain, and primary dysmenorrhea. One of the osteoarthritis trials (n = 247) used 510 mg/day of mixed galangal and ginger rhizome extracts for 6 weeks and demonstrated significantly lower pain on walking in the treatment group.43
Limited studies in rats have shown improved lipid profiles and insulin resistance with galangal supplementation.38, 39
There are no clinical studies of galangal to provide a basis for dosage recommendations.
Pregnancy / Lactation
Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
Case reports are lacking. Platelet-activating factor receptor binding activity has been reported for galangal as a component of the Turkish hemorrhage-impeding, medicinal herbal product Ankaferd BloodStopper. An interaction with hemostatic agents can therefore be theorized.4, 40, 41
Research reveals little or no information regarding adverse reactions with the use of this product.
Acute oral toxicity in mice was absent at 300 mg/kg and lethal at 5,000 mg/kg in one study. Signs of toxicity included asthenia, anorexia, piloerection, urination, diarrhea, and coma.19
Another study found A. galanga–treated animals showed a rise in red blood cell levels, weight gain of sexual organs, and increased sperm motility and sperm counts. No spermatotoxic effects were noted.42
1. Alpinia officinarum
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5. Janssen AM, Scheffer JJ. Acetoxychavicol acetate, an antifungal component of Alpinia galanga
1. Planta Med
6. Morita H, Itokawa H. Cytotoxic and antifungal diterpenes from the seeds of Alpinia galanga
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7. Ray PG, Majumdar SK. Antifungal flavonoid from Alpinia officinarum
Hance. Indian J of Exp Biol
8. Lima EO, Gompertz OF, Giesbrecht AM, Paulo MQ. In vitro antifungal activity of essential oils obtained from officinal plants against dermatophytes. Mycoses
9. Srividya AR, Dhanabal SP, Misra VK, Suja G. Antioxidant and antimicrobial activity of Alpinia officinarum
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10. Kaur A, Singh R, Dey CS, Sharma SS, Bhutani KK, Singh IP. Antileishmanial phenylpropanoids from Alpinia galanga
(Linn.) Willd. Indian J Exp Biol
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against multi-drug resistant bacteria. J Ethnopharmacol
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. Food Microbiol
13. Niyomkam P, Kaewbumrung S, Kaewnpparat S, Panichayupakaranant P. Antibacterial activity of Thai herbal extracts on acne involved microorganism. Pharm Biol
14. Sawamura R, Shimizu T, Sun Y, et al. In vitro and in vivo anti-influenza virus activity of diarylheptanoids isolated from Alpinia officinarum
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(L) Willd crude extracts. Appl Biochem Biotechnol
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17. Eumkeb G, Siriwong S, Phitaktim S, Rojtinnakorn N, Sakdarat S. Synergistic activity and mode of action of flavonoids isolated from smaller galangal and amoxicillin combinations against amoxicillin-resistant Escherichia coli
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18. Lee YS, Kang OH, Choi JG, et al. Synergistic effects of the combination of galangin with gentamicin against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
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19. Al-Adhroey AH, Nor ZM, Al-Mekhlafi HM, Mahmud R. Median lethal dose, antimalarial activity, phytochemical screening and radical scavenging of methanolic Languas galanga
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20. Banjerdpongchai R, Punyati P, Nakrob A, Pompimon W, Kongtawelert P. 4'-hydroxycinnamaldehyde from Alpinia galanga
(Linn.) induces human leukemic cell apoptosis via mitochondrial and endoplasmic reticulum stress pathways. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev
21. Jaiswal JV, Wadegaonkar PA, Hajare SW. The bioflavonoid galangin suppresses the growth of Ehrlich ascites carcinoma in Swiss albino mice: a molecular insight [published online ahead of print March 21, 2012]. Appl Biochem Biotechnol
22. Lu YH, Lin-Tao, Wang ZT, Wei DZ, Xiang HB. Mechanism and inhibitory effect of galangin and its flavonoid mixture from Alpinia officinarum
on mushroom tyrosinase and B16 murine melanoma cells. J Enzyme Inhib Med Chem
23. Matsuda H, Nakashima S, Oda Y, Nakamura S, Yoshikawa M. Melanogenesis inhibitors from the rhizomes of Alpinia officinarum
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33. Lee J, Kim KA, Jeong S, et al. Anti-inflammatory, anti-nociceptive, and anti-psychiatric effects by the rhizomes of Alpinia officinarum
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36. Yu ES, Min HJ, Lee K, et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of p-coumaryl alcohol-gamma-O-methyl ether is mediated through modulation of interferon-gamma production in Th cells. Br J Pharmacol
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