Ginger is used as spice ingredient in various Asian dishes. Ginger can be pickled or dried and stored for longer duration and is common food preservative. Sweets like ginger jam, ginger candies are another way of storing Ginger. In Asia, people add ginger to their daily diet including tea, coffee, vegetable preparation. In Europe and other places, it is used to flavor various beverages including ginger beer, ginger wine. Gingerbread is one popular preparation made from ginger and used for centuries. Traditional energy drink is made from ginger, lemon/ lemongrass and honey.
Ginger is used in various forms as home remedies since ages. History of ginger goes back to 3000 years back. In Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicinal science ginger is used as cure on various gastro intestinal and blood diseases. There are numerous references to ginger and health benefits of ginger in Sanskrit literature and Chinese medical treaties. The Sanskrit name Singabera gave rise to Greek Zingiberi and to the late latin Zingiberi.
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Nutritional Value and mineral content of Ginger:
Ginger is source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6, E. Ginger is also rich in minerals like Iron, Manganese, Magnesium, Potassium and Selenium. The nutritional composition of ginger varies with type or variety, or region, agro climated conditions, methods of curing, drying, packaging nad storage.
Chemical Composition of Ginger: Ginger gets its peculiar odour and taste due to presence of zingerone, shogoal and gingerols along with other essential oils. On steamed distillation, dried, cracked and comminuted ginger yields about 1-3% pale yellow viscid oil.
Health benefits of Ginger
Ginger is amongst the most commonly used herbs both for its culinary uses as well as medicinal uses. Ginger is known for its properties as stimulant, carminative, anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger is on the FDA’s safe list. Ginger is in Indian ancient literature is referred as Maha-aushadi meaning the great medicine. Because of health benefits of Ginger, it has been used for centuries for treatment of various diseases like nausea, vomiting, head ache, chest congestion, cholera, colds, diarrhea, stomach ache, rheumatism and nervous disease. Today ginger is official in the national pharmacopeias of Australia, China, Egypt, Germany, UK, Japan and Switzerland. The British Herbal Compendium indicates ginger for atonic dyspepsia, colic, prophylaxis of travel sickness, and vomiting during pregnancy. It is also used for anorexia, bronchitis and rheumatic complaints. It is wonderful anti oxidant.
Ginger for digestive disorders
Ginger is valuable drug for disorders of digestive system. It is extremely useful in dyspepsia, flatulence, colic, nausea, vomiting, spasms and other painful affections of stomach and bowels. Chewing a fresh piece of ginger after meals regularly is an insurance against these ailments. This protective action is attributed to excessive secretion of saliva, diastate enzyme and volatile essential oil. Chewing fresh ginger piece with salt before meals, improves appetite and taste and cleanses the tongue and throat. Half a spoon of fresh ginger juice along with lime or mint juice and honey is effective medicine on nausea, vomiting, indigestion, morning sickness.
Ginger is an effective treatment for Nausea orginaed by seasickness, motion sickness, morning sickness, chemotherapy. It is used for relieving nausea during pregnancy. Dried Ginger powder along with small quantity of sugar is considered home remedy for nausea.
Ginger good on Diarrhea
Compounds in Ginger mainly Zingerone is very effective on diarrhea. Ginger root and Ginger oil is often used for stomach upsets. It is one of the best remedies for indigestion, stomach ache, dyspepsia, colic, spasms, diarrhhea flatulence and other stomach and bowel related problems.
Preventing infectious diseases with Ginger
Ginger is an antibiotic and antiviral and helps fight infection. It has been used for centuries for treatment of infectious diseases like cholera, diarrhea, chest congestion, whooping cough. A teaspoon of fresh ginger juice, mixed with a cup of fenugreek decoction and honey to taste, acts as an expectorant and diaphoretic in treating Whooping Cough and Influenza. It helps clear phlegm from the bronchial tube and is thus valuable in asthama, bronchitis, tuberculosis of lungs and catarrh. Ginger powder along with clove, pepper and honey is used in treating bronchitis.
Ginger is effective remedy for cough and cold. Extracted ginger juice along with honey should be taken 3-4 times a day for relief on cough. People also drink ginger tea made from dried or powdered ginger during Coughs. Ginger candies are often used during sore throat. Herbal tea along with Ginger, jaggery, basil, clove, cinnamon and honey is folk remedy for congestion, cough and cold. In India, paste prepared from dried ginger is applied to forehead to relieve headache and cold. Salabat is traditional health drink made in Phillippines by boiling ginger along with sugar and is considered good for sore throat.
Anti inflammatory properties of Ginger
Ginger aids bone growth and while reducing joint pain. Ginger is found effective in decreasing pain from arthritis. This is possibly why ginger is considered as a remedy for motion sickness. Ginger’s anti inflammatory properties also help reduce hip and knee pain in some osteoarthritis patients. Ginger has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic system of medicine to treat rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. In a recent study, daily small dose of ginger reduced pain, swelling and morning stiffness in arthritis patients. Ginger is believed to block formation of prostaglandins and other inflammatory substances. Further antioxidant properties of ginger breaks down inflammatory acids in joint synovial fluids. It has been found that powdered dry ginger powder is effective in combating pain and swelling from the inflammation of osteoarthritis.
Ginger as an anti-cancer agent
Gingerol, the main active component in Ginger & the ones responsible for its distinctive flavour, may also inhibit the growth of human colo-rectal cancer cells. Gingerol, the active phytonutrients in Ginger, kill ovarian cancer cells by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death)
Ginger prevents blood clots
In a research at Cornell University Medical college, it has been found that blood can be kept free from dangerous clots by eating liberal quantities of ginger. Gingerol in Ginger act like aspirin. Ginger clamps down thromboxane which leads to blood clotting.
Heart disease and Ginger
With blood thinning properties of ginger, it is helpful in reducing cholesterol and treating heart diseases.
Ginger as painkiller
Ginger is excellent painkiller and helpful on all types of pain. In headache, ginger ointment made by rubbing dry ginger with litter water and applied to forehead offers relief. Backache also can be relieved by applying ginger paste on affected area. It also allays toothache when applied to face. Burnt ginger mixed with common salt is rubbed over the teeth to cure dental sensitiveness caused by eating sour fruits. In case of ear ache, a fewdrops of ginger juice can give relief.
Ginger for treatment of Boils
The use of ginger as an external application has been found beneficial in the treatment of boils. Paste of ginger powder with equal quantities of turmeric can be applied on boils for beneficial results.
Ginger and Menstrual disorders
Crushed fresh ginger boiled in cup of water along with honey is used for relieving painful menstruation and other menstrual disorders.
Aphrodisiac properties of Ginger
Ginger is valuable aphrodisiac. It is found beneficial in treatment of sexual weakness. For better results, half teaspoon of ginger juice should be taken along with half boiled egg and honey once daily at night for a month. This tones up the sex centers and cures impotency, premature ejaculation and spermatorrhoea.
Ginger and Migraine
Ginger is also helpful in prevention and treatment of migraine. Due to its anti inflammatory and blood thinning properties, it helps in reducing inflammation and pain from migraine.
Ginger and Dropsy
Ginger is also valuable in dropsy associated with scanty urination. A teaspoon of ginger juice mixed with a glass of tender coconut water makes effective medicine for treating this condition.
Ginger and Anxiety
Studies suggest that ginger reduces anxiety. Drinking Ginger tea or ginger energy drink is considered refreshing apart from its health benefits on common cold and cough.
It is because of these wonderful health benefits of Ginger it is aptly called a great medicine.
Side effects of Ginger
Ginger when taken in large quantities may cause heartburn. An acute overdose of ginger, in excess of about 2 grams per kilogram, can result in over stimulation or ginger intoxication – “ginger gitters“.