by Dr. Will Cole
Hippocrates was right when he said that “all disease begins in the gut.” In fact, many people have gut problems without having any gut symptoms at all! Even seemingly unrelated health issues such as brain fog, anxiety, skin issues, and even autoimmune conditions all have their roots in gut dysfunction. Because of this fact, healing and supporting your gut should be on the top of your list when it comes to managing your overall health. Fortunately, there are some natural and highly effective ways to do this.
As a functional medicine practitioner and best-selling author, it is my job to work toward healing the body from the inside out through natural remedies. My priority is to discover the underlying causes of a person’s health problems, then help teach them how to go about healing naturally. If you are into gut health, you have probably heard all about one of my favorite gut-healing tools. I talk about it a lot, and it is bone broth. Rich in collagen and other nutrients, bone broth heals and seals the gut lining. It is one of my go-to tools for anyone looking to rebuild gut function and resolve issues like leaky gut syndrome, candida overgrowth, SIBO, and other health problems.
But what if you don’t eat animal products? What if bone broth is not an option for you? I can tell you based on years of practice, that not many of my plant-eating patients get too excited about the idea of downing serving upon serving of steaming animal bone broth on a regular basis—no matter how beneficial it can be to their health. They tell me that they want a plant-based alternative to bone broth. They want the gut-healing power, but they want it from a vegetarian source. What’s a health-conscious plant lover to do?
Enter galangal broth. Not to be confused with ginger, galangal is a similar looking root that is also part of the same rhizome family of plants. Galangal looks like ginger, but that’s where the similarity ends. Each of these roots have their own unique taste and texture. Unlike regular ginger, galangal can only be sliced, not grated, due to its harder exterior. Galangal also has a much stronger flavor than the spicy taste of ginger—galangal packs a punch. When you taste its sharp, extra citrusy, piney flavor, you’ll know you’ve encountered something completely different than you have experienced before. Galangal is sometimes referred to as Thai ginger due to its popularity in Thai, Malaysian, and Indonesian cuisines and has been used for centuries in ayurvedic medicine and remedies in other Asian cultures. But chances are, it’s new to you.
Of course, being the root of a plant, galangal doesn’t contain collagen or some of the other nutrients found only in bone broth, but it makes up for this lack with other powerful compounds that work to heal the gut in different ways. It has become one of my top gut-healing tools. Here’s why:
1. Galangal is anti-inflammatory.
Inflammation is both a cause and an effect of poor gut health. Multiple studies have demonstrated galangal’s ability to calm inflammation throughout the body by down-regulating pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and the inflammatory pathway NF-kb. This action is due to its phytonutrient content.
2. Galangal is antibacterial and antifungal.
Bacterial imbalances in the microbiome also contribute to gut problems. When more pathogenic species take over, they can worsen inflammation and other health problems. One of the most common bacterial infections in the world is H. pylori. This particular bacterium is linked to stomach ulcers and other gut problems. Galangal has been shown to help relieve ulcers as well as eliminate the presence of this bacteria. It has also been shown to fight off other powerful pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli, clostridium, staphylococcus, and salmonella.
3. Galangal enhances autophagy.
Autophagy is your body’s way of eliminating old, damaged cells in order to make way for younger, healthier cells. New research has shown that autophagy is necessary to regulate the proper balance of bacteria in the gut and maintain a healthy gut lining, and galangal has been shown to directly induce the autophagy process.
As you can see, galangal has some serious next-level health benefits for anyone looking to heal their gut. Whether or not you follow a plant-based diet, galangal can benefit your gut health. Another advantage to galangal is its quick prep time, compared to bone broth, which requires a very long simmer to cook out the nutrients from the bones. Bone broth normally takes 24 to 48 hours of cooking at low heat, but you can whip up a pot of galangal broth in less than an hour.
Since it also lacks collagen, galangal broth isn’t gelatinous so it is a lighter, potentially more digestible broth. With all these benefits, you can switch up your regular broth routine, whether you are a vegetarian or not. It never hurts to add another gut-healing superfood to your dietary repertoire.
You can find fresh galangal at health food markets like Whole Foods, and it is also sold online. If you can’t find fresh galangal, you can also buy the dried, ground variety. Generally, for every tablespoon of fresh galangal use a quarter-teaspoon of dried, ground galangal.
Because this broth is typically prepared along with various other Asian spices, it has a distinct flavor similar to flavors you might have experienced eating Thai cuisine. This recipe is one easy way to make galangal broth. Give it a try, to heal your gut and curb your takeout cravings all in one powerful and delicious meal.
Makes 3 quarts
- 12 cups vegetable stock or broth
- 3 stalks celery (add celery greens at the top of the stock as well for added nutrients)
- 4 pieces kaffir lime leaves
- 3 stalks lemongrass
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 1-inch piece galangal, sliced into rounds
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 3 to 4 sprigs cilantro, for garnish
- Heat the vegetable stock or broth in a large soup pot over medium to high heat, and bring to a boil.
- When it is boiling, add the celery, lime leaves, lemongrass, green onions, galangal, pepper, and salt.
- Let boil for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and let stand for 20 minutes to allow the broth to absorb the nutrients and flavors.
- Strain the vegetables and season the broth with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve hot.
Note: Once cooled, this can be stored in jars and frozen for later use.
If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer in person as well as phone and webcam consultations for people across the country and around the world.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.