Alpinia galanga, (also Languas galanga), a plant in the ginger family, is an herb used in cooking, especially in Indonesian and Thai cuisines. It is one of four plants known as galangal, and is differentiated from the others with the common name greater galangal (or simply Thai galangal). The galangals are also called blue ginger or Thai ginger.
A. galanga is called laos in Indonesian and is the most common form of galangal used in cooking. It is also known as lengkuas and galanga root. In Manipuri, it is known as kanghu.
The plant grows from rhizomes in clumps of stiff stalks up to two meters in height with abundant long leaves which bears red fruit. It is native to South Asia and Indonesia. It is cultivated in Malaysia, Laos, and Thailand. A. galanga is the galangal used most often in cookery. The robust rhizome has a sharp, sweet taste and smells like a blend of black pepper and pine needles. The red fruit is used in traditional Chinese medicine and has a flavor similar to cardamom.Known as chittarattai in Tamil, this form of ginger is used with licorice root, called in Tamil athi-mathuram as folk cure for colds and sore throats.
The branched pieces of rhizome are from 1 1/2 to 3 inches in length, and seldom more than 3/4 inch thick. They are cut while fresh, and the pieces are usually cylindrical, marked at short intervals by narrow, whitish, somewhat raised rings, which are the scars left by former leaves. They are dark reddish-brown externally, and the section shows a dark centre surrounded by a wider, paler layer which becomes darker in drying. Their odour is aromatic, and their taste pungent and spicy.
The root contains a volatile oil, resin, galangol, kaempferid, galangin and alpinin, starch, etc. The active principles are the volatile oil and acrid resin. Galangin is dioxyflavanol, and has been obtained synthetically. Alcohol freely extracts all the properties, and for the fluid extract there should be no admixture of water or glycerin.
The rhizome is used against rheumatism, bronchial catarrh, bad breath and ulcers whooping colds in children, throat infections, to control incontinence and fever. Alpinia species show promise as anti-fungals, hypotensives, enhancers of sperm count and motility. Anti-tumor and anti-dementia effects have been observed in rodents.Galangal is a stimulating aromatic and has been successfully employed to aid the digestive process, preventing fermentation and removing flatus. It is useful in case of dyspepsia, preventing vomiting or sickness of the stomach and facilitating digestion. It may be used in all cases in which a stimulating aromatic is indicated. It tones up the tissues and is sometimes prescribed in fever. Homoeopaths use it as a stimulant. It has some reputation as a remedy for perineal relaxation with hemorrhoids and for a lax and pendulous abdomen. It is used as a snuff to treat cold and flu symptoms. Galangal Root has also been used as a digestive aid, especially in combating dyspepsia and flatulence. It is also seen as a remedy for seasickness and motion sickness. It is used against nausea, flatulence, dyspepsia, rheumatism, catarrh and enteritis. It also possesses tonic and antibacterial qualities and is used for these properties in veterinary and homeopathic medicine. This herb has a constricting or binding effect, for example: one that checks hemorrhages or secretions by coagulation of proteins on a soft surface. It also restores, nourishes, and supports the entire body; it exerts a gently strengthening effect on the body.
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