Ginger Root is known as the universal medicine in Ayurveda. It
aids digestion and, and is one of the best herbs for nausea. It
relieves spasms and menstrual cramps, and promotes menstruation.
Ginger helps to regulate blood sugar both by stimulating pancreas
cells and by lowering lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides) in the
blood. Historically, it was one of the most respected herbs for
joint health, especially for aging joints. It has relatively high
calcium and iron content. Ginger increases peripheral circulation,
so is used clinically for cold hands and feet. Being diaphoretic, it
treats some symptoms by promoting sweating.
Tangy ginger is just the thing to add a little zip to your palate
– and to your health. Ginger root (Zingiber officinale), is the
tuberous root of a tropical plant. The fresh ginger root is tan and
knobby, with a thick skin. Good quality pieces are firm and plump,
with an unwrinkled, smooth skin. No one quite knows how old ginger
is. It's been cultivated so long that it has never actually been
found growing in the wild. It is presumed to have originated in
tropical India, but it is also an ancient ingredient of Chinese food
It became popular in Europe when it was one of the more important
spices to open the spice trade routes to Asia. In fact, one of
ginger's most popular uses started in Europe, when in 19th century
English pubs a jar of ginger was kept on the counter so the
clientele could add it to their drinks. Ginger ale was born.
Ginger is a first aid kit on a plate. First, it is a time-tested
remedy for stomach upset. It is used by nearly every culture in the
world as a treatment for mild indigestion, fullness and gas. Many
prepare a tasty tea and drink it after a large meal to assist
digestion and ease stomach discomfort. Ginger's effect on motion
sickness and nausea have been thoroughly proven, so itIs not
surprising that European practitioners use ginger in tea for
indigestion, which European regulatory authorities support.
The reason it works so well for digestion is because it reduces
spasm, absorbs and neutralizes toxins in the gastrointestinal tract
and increases the secretion of digestive juices, including bile and
saliva. Ginger has properties that soothe the gut and aid digestion
by increasing peristalsis (moving food through the intestinal
tract). A new study from India demonstrated that ginger speeds up
the time it takes the stomach to empty relieving abdominal
discomfort and bloating.
Ginger is also some pretty serious medicine. In fact, Ayurveda
calls this herb "the universal medicine."
Among its many uses, ginger helps in the treatment of diabetes by
lowering blood sugar, and treats closely related cardiovascular
conditions. Ginger lowers blood fats, including triglycerides,
reduces oxidation of LDL and prevents arterial plaque. Research
published in 2002 found that a higher dose of ginger (500 mg/kg,
about an ounce for an average adult), produced a significant
lowering of blood cholesterol.
In Asian herbalism, ginger is extensively used for arthritis,
especially osteoarthritis. Ginger is especially appropriate for
cold, non-lubricated joints. There is some preliminary scientific
information on ginger for this purpose. Traditional herbalists use
it for promoting menstruation and relieving menstrual cramps. Ginger
increases peripheral circulation, so it is used clinically for cold
hands and feet. Being diaphoretic, it treats cold and flu.
In clinical trials of modern practitioners, ginger works well for
carpal tunnel wrist pain. It can be taken internally in therapeutic
doses, or applied externally to the troubled spot. Practitioners
found that when thin lengthwise slices of the fresh root were
applied as flat strips to the wrist and then covered with a bandage
and left overnight, there was significant relief. Norma Pasekoff
Weinberg, in Natural and Herbal Remedies for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
(Storey Books, Pownal Vermont, 2000), recommends a compress be made
from fresh ginger that has been cooked and grated. You can also find
other variations for external use, such as ointments.
Although, there is as yet little science behind it, Asian
medicine uses ginger for migraines. Clinical herbalists say that
ginger is absolutely the best medicine for treating a migraine at
the time that it develops and itIs one of the few things that will
work. They recommend stirring two tablespoons of ginger powder into
water and drinking it at the onset of visual disturbances in the
"aura" before the pain starts. Usually, that will knock it out cold.
The migraine may try to restart in about four hours, in which case
you must have another drink.
A study recently reported in Obstetrics and Gynecology looked at
seventy pregnant women with morning sickness. After using just 1
gram of dry ginger per day, for only four days, 87.5% of the
ginger-takers reported improvement, compared with 28% who took a
placebo. A 2002 study found that women taking a ginger syrup found
great relief from nausea. Of the women in the ginger group, 67% who
had been vomiting daily stopped vomiting within 6 days, compared to
only 20% who took a placebo.
European authorities at one time suggested that ginger be avoided
during pregnancy on theoretical grounds, but ginger toxicity has yet
been reported in humans. Even though many modern herb books mention
this theoretical concern, the science behind it is dated and not
very definitive. American herbal safety authorities have repeatedly
concluded that this not an issue, for practical purposes.
Considering that it has been used for millennia by pregnant women,
itIs probably acceptable in normal doses.
Ginger is one of the most popular spices throughout the world.
Ginger is a multipurpose spice, equally scrumptious in both sweet
and savory dishes. This spice has a somewhat biting and hot note,
with a rich, sweet, warm, and woody aroma. Use ginger fresh, as
dried powder or "crystallized" with sugar. Use it in gingerbread,
ginger ale, gingersnaps, and Indian or Chinese dishes. Try ginger
chunks in a stir fry, or mixed in honey or with a little molasses as
a glaze, perhaps for carrots. Even add fresh juice to a fresh juice
mix, perhaps apple, to add some snap. In my home, my family likes to
dice peeled fresh ginger root, saute it until crunchy, and use the
crispy bits as a condiment. Prepared this way, ginger will last
about a week in the refrigerator.