Discover the Benefits of Ginger - the Spice of Life!

August 01, 2008

Ginger is a rhizome which functions as a root as well as a stem to store the nutrients for the plant. This rhizome is a medicinally active form which has been used in India and other Asian countries since time immemorial to add flavor and spice in food. This culinary component is actually a herb with medicinal value and this is exploited in this article.

The main components of ginger which gives it a characteristic flavor and pungent taste are essential oils like zingiberone and poly phenols like gingerol and zingiberol. When heated or cooked for a long time, gingerol is converted to zingiberol. This reduces the pungent taste of ginger and also adds a sweet aroma to the food.   Dried ginger is also used extensively in Asian cooking.

Some therapeutic actions of ginger:

  1. Ginger improves digestion as it stimulates glands to increase saliva secretion.
  2. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory agent. Hence it is used to treat disorders of the bowel where inflammation takes place like inflammatory bowel disease. Some types of diarrhea, specially in children is also cured by ginger.
  3. Arthritis is another inflammatory disease affecting the joints. By acting as an anti inflammatory and reducing the autoimmune symptoms of the illness, ginger helps in reducing pain and swelling in arthritis.
  4. Muscle spasms are also reduced by ginger. This is helpful in treatment of dyspepsia and diarrhea.
  5. Nausea and motion sickness are also improved by ginger drops or ginger candy. This is helpful for pregnant women in the prevention of nausea and gastric disturbances.
  6. Cough and congestion are also readily improved by consistent use of ginger. The phlegm in the lungs is readily removed or pushed out of the lungs due to the expectorant action of ginger.
  7. Asthma patients also feel a relief when ginger is used regularly. This is because the bronc ho spasms are reduced and there is a dilatation of the bronchi reducing the constrictions.
  8. Taking ginger can increase body temperature and stimulate perspiration, which in some cases can bring down fever.

Honey and ginger

Honey is another natural product which aids in passing on the benefits of ginger to the body. Honey with ginger can diffuse and at times dissolve the active portions of ginger, which can provide a quicker relief in symptoms.  Typically ginger is grated and squeezed into honey. Typically, one teaspoonful of ginger secretions is mixed with one teaspoon of honey for added benefits. You can also prepare honey-ginger tea by adding ginger to your regular tea concoction and once it's ready, add honey and serve.

Some preparations of ginger

  • Ginger pickle
  • Ginger jam or marmalade
  • Gingerale or ginger squash
  • Lemon ginger syrup
  • Ginger tea
  • Ginger in pulses, vegetables and curries
  • Ginger candies
  • Ginger mouthwash
Additional Reading Ginger - An Overview Ginger: The ‘Root’ of Good Health How to Make a Yummy Ginger and Cucumber Salad! All Natural Ginger Powder