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Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit

Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit close up in a brown bowl

What is Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit?

Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit (yi zhi, 益智) is one of the four Southern Medicine in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that only grows in Southern China. While this herb is known for its efficiency in treating Kidney Deficiencies, it is also commonly known as a herb of wisdom, as a Chinese legend described it to be.

It was said that there was once a scholar who dreamed of passing the ancient provincial civil service, and he was under a lot of stress, which led to Kidney Deficiency, sleeplessness, poor memory, poor appetite and excessive urination at night. He came across a fruit when he passed by a garden, and he ate it, which he found to be delicious. Afterwards, all his problems were miraculously solved. He has better appetite, improved memory and better sleep quality. After passing the exam, he named the fruit yi zhi, which means ‘beneficial for wisdom’.

In TCM, Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit falls under the category of ‘Tonic herbs for Yang Deficiency’. Such herbs are used to replenish one’s Four Treasures (qi, blood, yin, yang). Warm in nature, the herb can help individuals who have too much Cold in their body, such as those experiencing a Yin Excess or a Yang Deficiency, to restore a harmonious yin-yang balance.

Pungent in taste, Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit can promote the circulations of qi and body fluids. In particular, the herb targets the Kidney and the Spleen.

Functions and Benefits of Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit has the following health benefits.

Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit can tonify Kidney yang and consolidate Kidney qi to secure essence. The herb can help to address seminal emission, premature ejaculation, spermatorrhea, enuresis and frequent urination caused by Kidney Yang Deficiency or excess Cold in the lower energizer. As the herb has both tonifying and astringing properties, Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit can treat both the symptoms and the root of relevant diseases. In addition, Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit can also warm the Spleen to address excessive salivation and diarrhoea caused by excess Cold in the Spleen and or Kidney. 

Modern studies have shown that Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It can fight premature ageing and calm inflammation throughout the body. Thus, it is often indicated for chronic diseases that involve inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory skin conditions and bowel diseases.

In the Middle East, Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit is used as an aphrodisiac. In Southeast Asia, Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit is used to treat menstrual disorder. In addition, research has shown that Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit supplements may be able to increase sperm motility and sperm count when combined with pomegranate juice. 

Some studies have suggested that Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit may be effective against gastric, skin, pancreatic, breast and liver cancers. The essential oils in Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit also make it a natural antimicrobial. The amount of antioxidants in Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit also help to boost hyaluronic acid production, which may reduce lines, increase skin radiance and soothe skin problems such as eczema, burn, itchiness and fungal infections.

The fiber in Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit can support good gut health and promote bowel regularity. In Ayurvedic medicine and other Asian alternative medicine, the herb was used to help with gas, cramping, constipation, and even stop hiccups. Indonesians consume freshly grated galangal with salt on an empty stomach to ease digestive issues.

Some nutrients in Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit have also been linked to a healthy brain, better cognition and protection against depression. The herb may also prevent cholesterol spikes by reducing blood cholesterol levels. In addition, Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit can fight respiratory ailments, boost cardiac health, relieve nausea and strengthen the immune system.

Close up of Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit in a bowl
The Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit is a Warm herb that can help to relieve symptoms of premature ejaculation.

How to Use Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit

The recommended daily dosage of Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit is 3 – 10g. You can use the herb in many dishes, such as congee, vegetable stir fry, or curries. For example, you can cook Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit congee by soaking 10g of Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit in water for 5 – 10 minutes, cook the decoction with 50g of rice, and add sugar to the congee once it is cooked.

Also, you can drink Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit in the form of tea. Other forms of available Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit include powder and supplements. The powdered form of the herb is often used to spice up soups.

Cautions and Side Effects of Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit

Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit should not be consumed by individuals experiencing symptoms of vomiting, diarrhoea or frequent urination caused by Internal Heat. Also, the herb should not be used in cases of Yin Deficiency with excess fire and uterine bleeding caused by Heat.

Also, as Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit may increase stomach acid production, it is best for individuals with gastrointestinal diseases to avoid this herb for the time being.

In addition, pregnant ladies should avoid consuming the herb for the time being too.

Just like other herbs, it is best to consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit to your healthcare routine!

Summary

Here is a summary for Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit:

  • Herb name (Chinese): 益智
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): yì zhì
  • Herb name (English): Sharpleaf Galangal Fruit
  • Herb name (Botanical): Fructus Alpiniae Oxyphyllae
  • Origin of species: Alpinia oxyphylla Miq.
  • Part(s) of herb used: Fruit
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan, Fujian
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent; Warm; Administrates the Kidney and Spleen Meridians
  • Actions: Relieves symptoms of premature ejaculation, and night or frequent urination; Good for individuals with weak digestive abilities and related symptoms such as nausea, vomiting with abdominal discomfort and uncontrolled salivation

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