The healing power of galega

Galega is a plant with white or white-lilac flowers that can grow to a height of one meter to 1 meter. The plant originally only grew in areas in Central Asia such as Russia and Iran, but has since ancient times become common throughout Europe. It is also sold as an ornamental plant. Some people say that galega is a forgotten medicinal plant, but today’s phytotherapy, the science-based herbal medicine, does use it. Galega works mainly as a blood sugar lowering plant and as a stimulant for the production of breast milk for breastfeeding. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing galega / Source: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons (PD)

Contents:

  • Naming
  • History of use of galega
  • Active substances
  • Galega against diabetes
  • Galega promotes breast milk production
  • Other medicinal effects of galega

Naming

The Latin name of galega is Galega officinalis . In Dutch the plant is called French lily and goat’s rue. In Latin, gale means ‘milk’ and ‘ega’ means ‘to bring forth’. That refers to the milk-producing properties of the plant; it stimulates the mammary glands to produce breast milk. Officinalis means ‘from the pharmacist’s workspace’. This addition was given to all plants that were regularly used in medicine several hundred years ago.

History of use of galega

Galega has played an important role in plague, fever and infectious diseases since the Middle Ages. Galega has been used in Europe since the Middle Ages to combat diabetes mellitus. Insulin resistance and increased blood sugar levels can be counteracted by using galega. In the 1920s and 1930s, unsuccessful attempts were made to use galegine from galega as a basis for a diabetes drug. This was not successful at the time because this substance does not work alone but in collaboration with other substances. When the active substances of galega, such as guanidine, are isolated, a substance is created with too many side effects; a toxin. This substance is not a toxin if you take it as part of the galega plant. Therefore, the plant itself can be used, possibly in combination with other medicinal plants for diabetes mellitus. The pharmaceutical drug metformin, which is extracted from the galega, has been produced since 1957.

Active substances

The entire herb or seeds growing above ground are used for galega. It contains the following ingredients: alkaloids such as the guanidine derivatives galegine, 4-hydroxygalegine and galein, saponins, flavonoids, tannins, bitter substances, sucrose, glycosides, traces of chromium and fatty oil.

Galega against diabetes

Galega has a hypoglycemic effect. This means that this herb lowers blood sugar levels. In phytotherapy, galega can be used for its medicinal activities in:

Galega officinalis / Source: Bogdan, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

  • Diabetes mellitus type 2,
  • metabolic syndrome,
  • Insulin resistance.

Other herbs that work well against diabetes and have fewer side effects are: cinnamon, gymnema sylvestre, banaba and sopropo.

Galega promotes breast milk production

Galega promotes the production of breast milk. In medical terms, this plant is called a galactogogue. The development of mammary glands is also stimulated. This allows the plant to be given to mothers who produce too little breast milk and want to breastfeed their children.

Other medicinal effects of galega

  • Galega is a diuretic; that is, the moisture drifts away. The kidneys are stimulated and in this way excess fluid is removed.
  • An ointment based on galega can speed up healing after surgery.
  • Galega has an antibacterial effect.
  • Galega prevents clots in the blood.
  • Galega is diaphoretic, reduces fever and can therefore be used against flu.