You might not know this plant by name, but you might recognize it as an ingredient in some of your favorite Asian dishes, including Tom Yum and Tom Kha Gai soups. The galangal plant is in the same family — the rhizome family, to be exact — as the ginger and turmeric plants.
It purportedly has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. And it’s used to treat many ailments from stomach pains to snake bites (School of Chinese Medicine). But the most interesting claim is that it aids in the production of hyaluronic acid in the skin, resulting in fresher, younger looking skin.
Does Galanga Leaf Extract Promote the Creation of Hyaluronic Acid?
BASF Beauty Care Solution launched the active extracted from these leaves that the company claims encourages the production of hyaluronic acid. The company did its own studies both to determine the plants that might increase hyaluronic acid, and to test it on people.
The larger the molecule when it comes to hyaluronic acid, the most ability it has to retain water. That why researchers found that hyaluronan synthase-2 (HAS-2), the enzyme that produces the longest hyaluronan chains with the highest molecular weights, is the ideal enzyme to target. When they did tests on 105 potential active substances, the researchers in a 2011 study affiliated with BASF found that galanga leaf extract was the most promising (SÖFW-Journal).
The study that BASF did in vivo cited in this Cosmetics and Toiletries article, involved 25 female participants using a three percent concentration of galanga extract active. Researchers in the study said that the active reduced smile lines better than an anti-wrinkle peptide after four weeks of use. Using self-reporting, 84 percent of participants reported increased radiance, and 63 percent of participants reported increased skin density.
Antioxidants and Other Benefits
In this 2008 study in Food Chemistry, alpinia galanga extract didn’t do as well as some of its family members in terms of free-radical scavenging and antioxidant capacity. Though its leaves did significantly better than its rhizomes, and it does have a good antioxidant capacity. It did have a pretty high phenolic content, however, full of phenolic acids and flavonoids.
Another 2008 study found that while it had what the study deemed a “high antioxidant capacity” that it was not as much as Indian Gooseberry. This study also found that galangal extract had anti-inflammatory properties that helped protect food from S. aureus (Food Science and Technology).
And this 2008 study in the Journal of Natural Medicine, galangal extract had an anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive (pain relieving) effect in studies done on mice.
Results are promising for galanga leaf extract, but the only studies dedicated to the claims that it increases skin density, smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, by increasing the production of hyaluronic acid are industry sponsored. Hopefully there will be more independent studies done in the future. Nonethless, it’s a good antioxidant with a high phenolic content. It’s also been found to be an anti-inflammatory and analgesic.