Ginger is a herb but is often known as a spice, with a strong distinct flavor that can increase the production of saliva. It is native to India and China — and it is the most common spice used in those countries, probably after salt and turmeric. Ginger was widely used by the ancient Romans and it was a very expensive spice, one pound of ginger was equivalent to the price of a whole sheep!
Ginger was used in food and for medicinal purposes in Southern Europe and the Middle East, well before Roman times. The Spanish had set up ginger plantations in the West Indies to export to Europe [Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices & Flavorings, by Elisabeth L. Ortiz].
Why should I be aware of this?
This ginger root is traditionally used with sweet foods in Western cuisine being included in popular recipes such as ginger ale, ginger snaps, gingerbread, ginger biscuits and ginger cake.
It is used in many countries as a medicinal ingredient which many believe in. Some say it can help cure diabetes, head aches, colds, fatigue, nausea and the flu when used in tea or food.
All about ginger
Medicinal properties of ginger
- Anticlotting agent
- Circulatory stimulant
Ginger is also traditionally pickled or candied. In India, ginger slivers are dried in salt and used to treat indigestion, nausea or coughs. Pickled ginger with chillies, spices and oil is another popular preparation. Dried ginger is called sonth in India and is added to many ready-made curry powders and masalas. In Japan, sushi and other dishes are eaten as gari or the pink pickled ginger slices. Ginger is used variously in candies, chutneys, jams and marmalades all over the world.
Ginger and Health
Ginger has many health benefits. It has
- Antioxidant power.
- Prevents nausea
- Pain relief
- Digestive support
- Aid for cancer patients
- Good for heart
- Good for treating diarrhea, menstrual cramps, headaches, and colds and flu.
- Safe for kids
- Healthy soda
- Ginger is used to counter nausea — just suck on ginger slivers with a bit of salt to fight car sickness and nausea.
- Ginger juice added to honey or ginger tea is excellent for sore throats and cough.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine also uses ginger to treat diarrhea.
- Ginger oil used for massage can help relieve painful arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
What can I do?
Ginger has many uses in the home remedies department and can be used to help arthritis, diarrhea, flu, headache, heart and menstrual problems, diabetes, stomach upset and motion sickness.
Home Remedies using Ginger
- Muscle Strains - Apply warm ginger paste with turmeric to the affected area twice a day.
- Sore Throat - Boil some water and add a dash of cinnamon, a little piece of ginger, 1 tsp honey and drink.
- For a persistent cough - Take a half teaspoonful of ginger powder, a pinch of clove with a pinch of cinnamon powder and honey in a cup of boiled water and drink it as tea.
- Asthma - A teaspoon of fresh ginger juice mixed with a cup of fenugreek decoction and honey to taste acts as a excellent expectorant in the treatment of asthma.
- Headaches - Dilute a paste of ginger powder, about 1/2 a teaspoon, with water and apply to you forehead.
- Colds - Boil a teaspoonful of ginger powder in one quart of water and inhale the steam - helps alleviate colds.
- Ginger Compress - This method stimulates blood and body fluid circulation, helps loosen and dissolve toxic matter eg. cysts, tumors. Place about a handful of coarsely grated ginger in a cloth and squeeze out the ginger juice into a pot containing 4 liters of hot water (do not boil the water). Dip a towel into the ginger water and wring it out. Apply very hot to the affected area.
- Diabetes - Some doctors recommend some drinking ginger in water first thing in the morning to help regulate your glucose level.
- Ginger Tea - Make with fresh ginger root. Grate a small piece of ginger, about the size of a nickel, into a mug. Add the juice of a half a lemon. Fill the mug with boiling water. Stir in a teaspoon of organic honey.
- For relief of nausea - Ginger is generally taken in doses of 200 mg every 4 hours.
- The root of the ginger plant has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2,500 years.
- A study of more than 120 plant foods, published in the lournal of Nutrition, ranked ginger among the five richest food sources of antioxidants, along with berries, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pomegranates.
References and Useful Websites
- The Benefits Of Ginger
- Ginger Tea
- Historical Dictionary of Indian Food, by K.T. Achaya
- Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices & Flavorings, by Elisabeth L. Ortiz