Galangal — The Best Cancer-Fighting Herb

There is a herb that looks like ginger, has a citrusy flavor, tastes spicy but doesn’t have capsaicin (the spicy ingredient in most chilies), and is now commonly used in Ayurvedic Medicine.

That herb is called Galangal. Originating from China and Thailand, and now existing in India and most parts of Southeast Asia. It is purported and scientifically tested to probably be the BEST CANCER-FIGHTING HERB in the market now!

In fact, it has been very popular as a spice ingredient in most Thai and Chinese dishes, particularly in the Thai dish tom ka gai (hot and spicy clear soup with chicken). The benefits of including this herb (actually the root rhizomes are the ones being cooked for most dishes) in your cooking are numerous to mention. From fighting 8 different kinds of cancers to its anti-inflammatory effects on the body, such as arthritis.

A Plethora of Cancer-Fighting Benefits

With substantive studies on the effects of galangal on various kinds of cancer, here are the results documented so far:

Liver (Hepatic) Cancer

In 2015, a study in Taiwan involving the use of galangal extracted compounds on HepG2 cells (produced by a certain type of liver cancer) showed that the galangal compound reduced the “metastasis” (the tendency of cancer cells to spread to other organs or areas of the body) of the cancerous cells by preventing it attaching to other healthy cells.

Breast Cancer

A study conducted by an Iranian university in 2014 found out that a galangal extract applied on the MCF-7, a breast cancer cell line, generated apoptosis (death of cells) but did not affect healthy breast cells (MRC-5).

Another study from a Chinese medical university using galangal found that galangal’s active ingredient generated cell death in breast cancer cells using the usual route of cancer cell treatment.


Jamaican researchers discovered the helpful use of galangal in the treatment of Acute Monocytic Leukemia cells. A rapidly-spreading kind of leukemia that affects the bone marrow. Arrested development of the cells occurred when exposed to a liquid extract of galangal.

The researchers said further study is essential to test the effects of galangal on highly destructive leukemia cells.

Gastric Cancer

Another study in Iran in 2014 discovered that a liquid concentration of galangal could destroy gastric, cancerous tumor cells and cell lines in a laboratory test just after 48 hours.

Pancreatic Cancer

A relatively new 2017 laboratory study on multiple compounds of galangal showed they can stop the growth of pancreatic cancer cells including blocking its path along the usual gene routes.

Colon Cancer

Galangal was successfully tested to be able to cause the cell death of two kinds of cancerous colon cells.

Bile Duct Cancer

A kind of cancer that affects populations in tropical and semi-tropical countries like Thailand, it was found out through testing this 2017 that mice control subjects had fewer incidents of metastasis and had longer lifespans when exposed to galangal rhizome extracts. Bile Duct Cancer affects bile ducts connecting your liver to your small intestine. This study definitely is a notch up in the research against cancer and cancerous tumors in this area of the body.


Taiwan’s National Chiayi University conducted a study that found an “antiproliferative” effect of galangal root compounds on skin cancer cells. This means it stops the growth of new cancerous cells.

Other Benefits of Galangal

Galangal root was also discovered to also have anti-inflammatory benefits to the body, particularly patients with heart disease, cancer, etc. It can improve sperm count and fertility in male subjects.

Fortunately, galangal is also available in the Philippines (it is popular in Bicol under the name “langkwas”).

So, have you ever used galangal as an herb in cooking or used it for other medicinal/health purposes? Let us know in the comments below!

Image by Thomas Wanhoff / CC BY 2.0