Alpinia officinarum, commonly known as lesser galangal in English and Petit galanga or Galanga officinal in French is an herbaceous, perennial plant belonging to the Zingiberaceae botanical family. The plant is native to China, growing mainly on the southeastern coast, including Hainan, Guangdong and Guangxi, and is also grown in Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam. It is also cultivated in the plains of West Bengal, Assam and Eastern Himalayas in Indi. Hong Kong is the commercial center for the sale and distribution of the lesser galangal. Its rhizomes have been used as spices in Europe for over 1000 years. Some of the popular common names of the plant include Chinese Ginger, China Root, Colic Root, East India Catarrh Root, and Galangal, India Root, lesser Galanga, lesser Galangal, Blue ginger, Chewing John, Galangal root, Greater galangal, Kulanjan, Laos and Little John chew.
The branched pieces of rhizome are from 1½ to 3 inches in length, and seldom more than ¾ 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. They are tough and difficult to break, the fracture being granular, with small, ligneous fibres interspersed throughout one side. The drug is exported, chiefly from Shanghai, in bales made of split cane, plaited, and bound round with cane. The root has been used in Europe as a spice for over a thousand years, having probably been introduced by Arabian or Greek physicians, but it has now largely gone out of use except in Russia and India. Closely resembling ginger, it is used in Russia for flavouring vinegar and the liqueur "Nastoika": it is a favourite spice and medicine in Lithuania and Esthonia. Tartars prepare a kind of tea that contains it, and it is used by brewers. The reddishbrown powder is used as snuff, and in India the oil is valued in perfumery.
The plant has been used as a medicine and spice for well over 1,000 years, having arrived in Europe from China in about the 9th century. 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.
It is especially useful in flatulence, dyspepsia, vomiting and sickness at stomach, being recommended as a remedy for sea-sickness. It tones up the tissues and is sometimes prescribed in fever. Homoeopaths use it as a stimulant. Galangal is used in cattle medicine, and the Arabs use it to make their horses fiery. It is included in several compound preparations, but is not now often employed alone.
Galangal Root Essential Oil is also known as false ginger. The oil is extracted by using steam distillation method. It has nice fragrance and is closely related to Ginger. It acts as a stomachic and carminative. It provides relief from dyspepsia, unwanted gas, vomiting, nausea, motion illness and loss of appetite. It also treats common cold, fevers, sore throat, cough, infection, respiratory disease, rheumatism, gallbladder and liver complaints.
Galangal essential oil is extracted from the roots of Galangal plant from the steam distillation method which belongs to the family Zingiberaceae and genus Alpinia. It has spicy and bitter taste. This herb is native to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. It is used for medicinal purposs in India and Middle-East. Galangal is related with ginger having similar uses and qualities. Though it is non-irritant and non-toxic, it might cause sensitization in some peoples. It is used as a stimulant in natural medicine. It possesses antispasmodic and anti-bacterial properties.
This warming, stimulating scent was considered an aphrodisiac in the Middle Ages, so try incorporating it into oils for sex magick. As a perfume of Mars, galangal is great for building courage and learning to exercise one's will. In Hoodoo, where it is known as Low John, the fragrance of galangal is protective, especially in legal matters. Associated with Elemental Fire, this scent would also be good in a oil version of a Fire fluid condensor or for Fire magick in general, and it is of course an ingredient in Mather's version of Oil of Abramelin. However, if you are making Oil of Abramelin using essential oils instead of whole herbs, don't use the proportions given in the resin recipe - it wasn't written for essential oils. Instead, use your nose to judge the proportions by strength of scent. Steam-distilled from organic Alpinia galangal in Indonesia. This essential oil will sometimes crystalize. Warm the bottle in some hot water to make it pourable, but it will resolidify when it cools off. This is normal for this essential oil.
Traditional Uses of Lesser Galangal:
- Alpinia officinarum has been used both in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine since very early times (circa AD 500 in China) and in Europe since the middle Ages.
- The rhizome of lesser galangal is a bitter, aromatic, stimulant herb that acts mainly on the digestive system
- The rhizomes are widely used in Vietnam for treating stomach problems including dyspepsia, flatulence, vomiting, gastralgia, colic, diarrhoea, fever and malaria, and are locally applied to infected gums
- In Thailand, they are used as a carminative and for indigestion
- The seeds are used in China, for treating heartburn, cholera, toothache, ague and colds.
- Rhizome is reported to be a very effective herb that acts mainly on the digestive system, also relieves pain, lowers fevers and controls bacterial and fungal infections.
- It is given to young children to make them talk early.
- It is especially useful in flatulence, dyspepsia, vomiting and sickness at stomach, being recommended as a remedy for sea sickness.
- It tones up the tissues and is occasionally recommended in fever.
- Homoeopaths use it as a stimulant.
- The powder is used as a snuff for catarrh.
- Dry root stock of A. officinarum Hance is collected in late summer and is used for the treatment of dyspepsia, gastralgia and emesis.
- Traditional Chinese medicine has used the herb as an aromatic stomachic, analgesic and antiemetic in Asia.
- The rhizome of Alpinia officinarum has been used in China for relieving stomach ache, treating colds, invigorating the circulatory system and reducing swelling.
- Dry root and rhizome of Alpinia officinarum has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine for its anti-oxidation, anti-diabetic, antiulcer, anti-diarrhea, antiemetic, analgesia, anti-inflammatory and anticoagulation effects.
- Alpinia officinarum has been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of several conditions, such as abdominal pain, emesis, diarrhea, impaired renal function and dysentery.
- Juice from the boiled rhizome is used to stimulate digestion and treat stomach ache and malaria in Vietnam.
- Crushed rhizome in wine or vinegar is used topically for ringworm skin infections.
- It is included in several compound preparations, but is not now often used alone.
- Rhizomes are widely used in Vietnam for treating stomach problems including dyspepsia, flatulence, vomiting, gastralgia, colic, diarrhea, fever and malaria, and are locally applied to infected gums.
- In Thailand, they are used as a carminative and for indigestion.
- Seeds are used in China, for treating heartburn, cholera, toothache, ague and colds.
- In traditional Chinese medicine lesser galangal is a warming herb used for abdominal pain, vomiting, hiccups, and diarrhea.
- In India it is also used for arthritis and intermittent fevers.
- An infusion of lesser galangal can be used to alleviate painful canker sores and sore gums.
- It is often recommended as a treatment for seasickness.
- It helps to treat fatigue and assist circulation.
- It cures digestion, congestion, skin problems and cholera.
- It effectively treats dyspepsia, flatulence, motion sickness, vomiting, travel sickness and colic.
- It is useful for catarrh, bronchitis, cold, asthma and flu.
- It helps to enhance mood.
- It is used to relax muscles and provides sound sleep.
Culinary Uses of Lesser Galangal:
- The reddish-brown rhizomes have a spicy aroma and a pungent taste that is somewhere between Pepper and Ginger.
- Alpinia officinarum rhizome is pungent, is aromatic and is used as spice for flavoring food throughout Asian countries.
- Rhizome has been used in Europe as a spice for over 1000 years, but it has now largely gone out of use except in Russia and India.
- Closely resembling ginger, it is used in Russia for flavoring vinegar and the liqueur ‘nastoika’; it is a favorite spice and medicine in Lithuania and Estonia and the Tartars prepare a kind of tea that contains it, and it is used by brewers.
- In Asia the rhizomes are ground to powder for use in curries, drinks, and jellies.
- In India an extract is used in perfumes, and Tatars prepare a tea with it.
- Rhizome can be thinly sliced and added to stir-fries, boiled into curries, cooked into satay, mixed in applesauce, lightly tossed into salads, or used to flavor soups such as tom kha gai, a Thai coconut soup, or samlor kor ko, which is a Cambodian vegetable soup.
- It can also be used in stews, rice, and noodle dishes.
- Tatars prepare a tea with it.
Other Uses of Lesser Galangal:
- The reddish-brown powder from the rhizome is used as snuff, and in India the oil is valued in perfumery.
- Lesser Galangal is used in cattle medicine, and the Arabs use it to make their horses fiery.
- It is added to lotions, soaps and perfumes.
- In India an extract is used in perfumes.
- The rhizome is the source of true galangal oil used in perfume compositions to which it imparts unique, warm, spicy notes.
- The Galangal rhizomes were widely used in ancient and medieval Europe, where they were reputed to smell of roses and taste of sweet spice.
Uses of Lesser Galangal Essential Oil:
- It helps to treat fatigue.
- It enhances the circulation and assist joint and muscle stiffness.
- It is used as a cure for digestion, congestion, skin problems and cholera.
- This oil is a treatment for dyspepsia, flatulence, motion sickness, vomiting, travel sickness and colic.
- It helps to treat rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis.
- It is useful for treating respiratory problems such as catarrh, bronchitis, cold, asthma and flu.
- It assists in digestion of intestinal fats.
- It is also useful for tinea versicolor and gall bladder infections.
- It enhance the mood if diffused or added to hot bath.
- It is used in aromatherapy by adding 2 to 3 drops to hot bath that helps to relax muscles.
- For better sleep, diffuse it at night.