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Galangal roots had been widely used as a spice in Asian dishes and as a remedy in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Although it is close to ginger and turmeric, it is uniquely identified with its ability to promote male fertility.

Galangal root is a spice of South Asian origin. It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family and is closely linked to turmeric and ginger. Like these two spices, galangal roots can also be consumed raw or cooked with other spices. It has a sharp peppery taste and has many used in Ayurvedic medicine. For instance, it might help lower the risks of and manage some forms of cancer, reduce inflammation, and boost male fertility. Peer into this article to understand these benefits in detail, as well as the spice’s side effects and how it compares with ginger and turmeric, with which it shares a taxonomic group.

Understanding galangal roots

Before getting into the nitty-gritty about galangal roots, let’s see what it is. This is a spice belonging to the Zingiberaceae family. It is featured in many Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Chinese dishes, as well as Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. It resembles ginger and turmeric in appearance, only that it tastes slightly peppery. The Chinese medication has long been used to treat some forms of cancers and medical conditions.

Galangal roots: what are the associated health benefits?

Galangal roots have many potential health benefits, including;

  • They are rich in powerful antioxidants

Antioxidants are natural compounds found primarily in plants, including vegetables and fruits. They help fight oxidative stress, which develops when free radicals accumulate in the cells, resulting in increased risks of chronic conditions. Galangal roots are rich in antioxidants, primarily polyphenols. For a long time, studies have linked these compounds to a reduced risk of diabetes type 2, heart disease, and cognitive decline. Besides, polyphenols also help boost brain function, blood sugar control and lower bad cholesterols. Nonetheless, studies do not directly link galangal roots to these benefits but do so for the antioxidants present in this spice.

  • The roots may help manage or reduce the risks of certain types of cancer

Cancer is a deadly monster claiming millions of lives. As such, any substance that promises to reduce its risk is appreciated. Galangin, an active compound in galangal roots, could help fight some cancers. For instance, test-tube studies have shown that galanin could reduce the spread of human colon cancer cells. Besides, some studies add that it can help prevent the proliferation of skin, bile duct, and liver cancers. Nonetheless, these are only test-tube results that might not necessarily translate the same effects in human beings.

  • The roots may help manage or reduce the risks of certain types of cancer

Some studies suggest that galangal roots may fight infections by killing microorganisms. As such, the spice is widely used in its fresh form in different recipes and dishes. Among the microorganisms it might battle are E.coli, S.typhi, S.aureus, and several yeasts, parasites, and fungi. Besides, essential oils prepared from galangal roots have also been used to fight microorganisms. As with other claims regarding this spice, there is a need for further studies to prove the effectiveness of galangal roots.

  • They may fight infections

Like other spices in the Zingiberaceae family, galangal may help reduce inflammation and inflammatory pains. Studies have shown that it contains HMP, a compound that helps fight inflammation. As such, some drugs and supplements have featured galangal roots in their ingredients. Still, there is a need for further studies to prove how effective galangal roots relate to inflammation and pain.

  • They may fight inflammation and its related pain

The most interesting health benefit associated with galangal roots is that they may help boost male fertility. For instance, one study gave men with low sperm quality a placebo or a supplement made from galangal roots and pomegranate. At the end of the study, the placebo group experienced a 22% boost in sperm quality while the other fellows taking the supplement had their sperm quality increased by more than 60%. Of course, it’s unclear whether the phenomenal increase resulted from pomegranate or galangal roots. Still, another study in rodents showed that sperm count and mobility of rats increased when they were given galangal extracts. With more studies, it will become clearer how galangal affects male fertility.

How do galangal roots, turmeric, and ginger compare?

As mentioned previously, galangal ginger and turmeric all belong to the Zingiberaceae family. Besides, both can be used fresh or dried, and all make good spices that add seasoning to food. However, their tastes slightly differ, with turmeric being the most pungent and bitter, ginger being sweet-to-spicy, and galangal being spice with a peppery tint.

Furthermore, all the three spices possess some anti-cancer properties and can be used to fight inflammation and chronic inflammatory diseases. Nonetheless, their other medical roles slightly differ. For instance, ginger has anti-nausea properties and is good for stomach emptying. Conversely, galangal is exclusively known to boost male fertility, and ginger and turmeric are yet to match this ability. Additionally, ginger and turmeric have other benefits, including lowering heart disease and diabetes type 2 risks and preventing memory loss and age-related cognitive decline.

What are the precautions and side effects of galangal roots?

The Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines have long used galangal roots in moderate amounts found in food with positive effects. However, there is one case where a person was given 2 g per kg of galangal and resulted in serious side effects. Common negative side effects include coma, death, loss of weight, increased urination, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and decreased energy levels.

What’s the safety line for galangal roots?

Galangal roots are generally safe. However, how well or badly the spice interacts with the body largely depends on how much of it you take. As such, it is recommended that the amounts are generally kept low. The amounts of the spice used when preparing food are typically bearable by the body. It should be remembered that extremely high amounts could lead to negative side effects.


Galangal roots is a spice belonging to the same family as ginger and turmeric. Like other plants in the Zingiberaceae family, it is a good spice for seasoning and flavoring food. It has medicinal value, and its compounds may help treat/manage some forms of cancer, boost male fertility, and fight inflammation. Keeping the amounts low helps the body benefit from this spice, but doing high amounts could lead to serious side effects, including decreased energy levels, loss of appetite, coma, and death.

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Nutritionist, Cornell University, MS I believe that nutrition science is a wonderful helper both for the preventive improvement of health and adjunctive therapy in treatment. My goal is to help people improve their health and well-being without torturing themselves with unnecessary dietary restrictions. I am a supporter of a healthy lifestyle – I play sports, cycle, and swim in the lake all year round. With my work, I have been featured in Vice, Country Living, Harrods magazine, Daily Telegraph, Grazia, Women's Health, and other media outlets.

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