Considering the fact that Galangal Root was first introduced to Europe about a thousand years ago, it is extremely surprising how little it is known today. Arab traders first brought it back from Southeast Asia, but it wasn't until about 200 years ago that it was botanically identified and its true source discovered. Galangal belongs to the family of Ginger plants, although its flower is reminiscent of an orchid. The rhizome resembles ginger, but is more slender and darker in colour. These two roots and another species of Galangal all have a similar scent and have been used similarly for medicinal purposes. The Medieval abbess Hildegard of Bingen was a great fan of this herb and recommended it for fever and heart problems. Galangal has also long been regarded as an aphrodisiac and stimulant that was used for men and horses - to make them more spunky. Having almost sunk into oblivion from its previous eminent position, Galangal has recently made a come back, via the backdoor of Chinese and Asian eateries that have sprung up in all parts of Europe over past three decades. And thus, these days it is more commonly known and used as a spice, than as a medicine.
As with Ginger, the obvious uses for Galangal are as a, warming, soothing carminative stomach ally that aids indigestion, flatulence and nausea, especially from travel sickness. But Galangal is more powerful than that. It appears to be effective in the treatment of ulcers (though some sources warn against this use) and be able to fight candida albicans. During the Middle Ages it had a reputation for heart complaints, which was long considered superstition. However, recent research has shown Galangal to be extremely effective in inhibiting platelet aggregation, which under the wrong circumstances can cause blood clots that block arteries and can lead to heart attacks. Thus, it would probably not be a good idea to use this herb excessively if one is already on blood thinning medication.
Galangal nurtures the fire within. It burns away the wishy-washy thoughts of every day affairs and is thus an excellent concentration aid that will help the practitioner to focus his or her intentions. It promotes clarity of vision and helps focusing visualisations. It is also an excellent aphrodisiac that may be useful in sex magic and tantric rituals.