Tom Yam is a Thai curry whose priciple ingredient is Galanga, a spice with a similar, though in my opinion superior taste to Ginger. It is served in many forms including a very tasty soup known as tom kha gai. Tom yam curries derive very particular properties from the high quantities of Galanga cooked into them. The most immediate effect of a strong Tom Yam can be one of disorientation, and a heightened sense of colour. Slight visual and auditory hallucinations are common, feeling very much like the after-effects of Psylocibin containing mushrooms. This can be extremely pleasant if you are expecting it, but rather distracting if experienced in a posh thai restaurant!

Like most spices, galanga promotes digestion, assimilation, and elimination. According to Ayurveda, food that is not metabolized forms a substance called “ama” in Sanskrit, probably a term very close in meaning to catarrh. Ama is a sticky substance, a metabolic a residual that forms when the anabolic and catabolic processes are not in perfect balance.

When people have low metabolisms, their output of saliva and gastric juices as well as insulin and enzymes are insufficient to complete digestion of an ordinary meal. In such instances, some food is broken down by fermentation instead of digestion. This fermentation causes a host of abdominal rumblings as well as distention and other miseries. Heartburn comes after the bloating and discomfort.

Galanga is the herb of choice in relieving both the short- and long-term consequences both of sluggish metabolism and overeating, a holiday risk. Personally, I prefer, as the Thais do, to cook my food with spices so that the food itself is easier to digest, but digestive and carminative herbs can also be taken as supplements or post-digestive tonics.

Galanga also holds a place of honor in today’s scientific world. Besides aiding digestion and relieving gastric distress, it is useful in alleviating the dizziness and nausea associated with morning sickness as well as motion sickness. Its antifungal and antibacterial properties have been found effective in treatment of candida albicans and even the greatly feared anthrax pathogen that is being used in bacteriological warfare. Untreated, anthrax is regarded as 100% fatal if inhaled, but galanga confers major protection against this deadly germ.

Such is the power of a proper curry!

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