Ginger is a spice which has traditional medicinal value. In fact Indian and Chinese civilizations have been taking advantage of ginger since ages. Most of the Indian recipes have ginger in one form or the other. It has long been known as a very healthy food. It has anti-cancer properties and is recognized as healthy by both modern and ancient systems of medicine. Have a read to see why you should start eating more ginger.
What gives Ginger medicinal value?
Ginger is scientifically called Zingiber officinalis and this is a rhizome as discussed in the case of Turmeric earlier. This rhizome has volatile oils and compounds which impart medical properties as well as taste and odor to the rhizome. The aromatic constituents of ginger are zingiberene and bisabolene. The other constituents which give ginger a pungent taste are gingerols and shogaols. These stimulate the digestive system and impart characteristic taste and flavor. These active constituents are in form of phenols and complexes in form of flavanoids which impart their properties.
Ginger oil and terpenes are the other active ingredients in ginger. These agents make ginger an antiseptic with abilities to cleanse the lymph, improve circulation and relieve constipation. Ginger can lower bad cholesterol and reduce absorption of cholesterol in the liver and in the blood.
Ginger in ayurveda
Ayurveda acts by correcting the energies within the body to suit the environment outside and maintaining this balance. Energies within the body are either hot or cold. When there is excessive heat in the body, the hot energy is provocative and in cases of flu and cough, the cold or cool energies are more dominant. Ginger increases the heat within the body and thus increases the action of the hot energy giving rise to a fruitful balance of energies and correcting the illness.
Medical properties of ginger
1. It helps in improving perspiration, hence is effective in reducing or treating fever. 2. Ginger loosens phlegm and hence is used in the treatment of tough cold. Here it is used as an expectorant. 3. Ginger aids digestion by activating the digestive enzymes. 4. They neutralize stomach acids and hence are effective in digestion. 5. Ginger tones the muscles of the intestine and is thus used in relieving constipation. 6. It reduces inflammation of joints and tissues and hence is used in treatment of arthritis. 7. The circulation increases within the body by consuming ginger. 8. Motion sickness and nausea can be curbed by chewing ginger, swallowing may reduce its effect. 9. Nervousness and sore throats are easily improved by ginger. 10. Ginger has been shown to clean and thin the blood and hence is used as a blood purifier. 11. The ills of LDL or bad cholesterol are curbed by reducing the concentration of LDL. 12. Ginger is also a mood enhancer due the content of cineole , an alcohol. 13. The mouth freshening properties of ginger make it commonly used in tea and after meal refreshers.
As a spice, ground ginger can be quite a valuable substitute when fresh ginger root is not available. But fresh ginger is always preferred, both for its greater health benefits and for its superior taste. Ginger may not be the most familiar spice or herb, but it definitely pays to get to know this great root.