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Lesser Galangal Rhizome (Gao Liang Jiang)

Lesser Galangal Rhizome (Gao Liang Jiang)

What is Lesser Galangal Rhizome (Gao Liang Jiang)?

Lesser Galangal Rhizome (gao liang jiang, 高良姜), also known as Rhizoma Alpiniae Officinarum, is the most important raw material in the famous Chinese medicinal ointments such as Tiger Balm, Universal Oil and Er Tian You. These ointments are one of the most convenient treatments for headaches, itchy skin, mosquito and insect bites.

A member of the Ginger family, Galanga is native to Southeast Asia. It has roots that are ivory or pale yellow with pink tips, as well as a hot and spicy taste. The roots of Galanga are usually harvested in the late summer and autumn. Used in Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine for thousands of years, Gao Liang Jiang was brought to England and Northern Europe in the 13th Century by crusaders. Other than being used medicinally, Gao Liang Jiang was also used as a spice or seasoning in cooking, an ingredient in medicated wine and insect repellent. Galangal oil is also used to flavor French liqueurs, perfumes in India, digestive aid and even some tobaccos.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Gao Liang Jiang falls under the category of ‘Herbs that warm the Interior and expel Cold’. Hot in nature, Gao Liang Jiang can help individuals with too much Heat in their body, such as those experiencing a Yin Excess or a Yang Deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance. Pungent in taste, Gao Liang Jiang can promote the circulations of qi and body fluids. In particular, the herb targets the Spleen and the stomach.

Functions and Benefits of Lesser Galangal Rhizome (Gao Liang Jiang)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Gao Liang Jiang has the following health benefits.

Gao Liang Jiang can warm the middle energizer to alleviate pain. Commonly used for excess Cold in stomach and gastro-abdominal distending pain, Gao Liang Jiang can also alleviate colic pain in the chest or abdomen, distressing fullness in the hypochondrium and restlessness. As Gao Liang Jiang can warm the middle energizer and harmonize the stomach, the herb is also used to arrest vomiting.

Rich in antioxidants, Gao Liang Jiang can combat free radical damage to help fight signs of ageing and prevent chronic illnesses. It is especially rich in polyphenols, a group of antioxidants linked to health benefits, such as preventing mental decline, improving memory and lowering blood sugar and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. 

Gao Liang Jiang may protect your body against certain types of cancer as well. Test-tube studies suggest that galangin, the active compound in Gao Liang Jiang, may kill cancer cells or prevent them from spreading. More specifically, one study highlighted the spice’s ability to kill two strains of human colon cancer cells. Other studies suggest it may fight breast, bile duct, skin, and liver cancer cells. Some research also suggests that Gao Liang Jiang may boost male fertility, reduce disease-causing inflammation, and protect against infections.

Lesser Galangal Rhizome (Gao Liang Jiang) close up
Lesser Galangal Rhizome (Gao Liang Jiang) can help to relieve nausea or vomiting.

How to Use Lesser Galangal Rhizome (Gao Liang Jiang)

The recommended daily dosage of Gao Liang Jiang is 3 – 6g. If you are consuming Gao Liang Jiang powder, you can consume 3g of it at once.

Whole or sliced Gao Liang Jiang can be found at some Asian markets and herbal shops. The roots are usually packed in brine and stored in glass jars. Gao Liang Jiang is also available in various supplement forms, such as powder and pills.

Gao Liang Jiang can also be boiled, steamed or eaten raw. Utilizing this spice to flavor food is also an effective way to reduce salt intake, which can further improve blood pressure levels.

Cautions and Side Effects of Lesser Galangal Rhizome (Gao Liang Jiang)

Gao Liang Jiang  should not be used by individuals who are experiencing Yin Deficiency with Heat signs, excess Heat, nausea caused by Stomach Fire, diarrhoea or pain caused by Heart Deficiency.

Do not use Gao Liang Jiang together with salt.

We strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Gao Liang Jiang to your healthcare routine!


Here is a summary for Lesser Galangal Rhizome (Gao Liang Jiang):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 高良姜
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): gāo liáng jiāng
  • Herb name (English): Lesser Galangal Rhizome
  • Herb name (Botanical): Rhizoma Alpiniae Officinarum
  • Origin of species: Alpinia officinarum Hance
  • Part(s) of herb used: Rhizome
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent; Hot; Administrates the Spleen and Stomach Meridians
  • Actions: Eases pain in the abdominal region; Relieves nausea or vomiting

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