Ginger has wonderful health benefits and medicinal uses, it has been used for thousands of years both as a spice and in remedies. It is used for the treatment of various diseases like cold, nausea, periods pain, arthritis and headache, it also aids weight loss.
Here in our village, we use all forms of ginger in remedies. Ginger coffee made with dry ginger as a base is very famous for treating indigestion. We also make ginger poultice for treating headache and inflammation and ginger infusion for treating cold and cough.
What Is Ginger?
Ginger is a flowering plant whose root is widely used in cooking and remedies. Ginger belongs to the family Zingiberaceae, the same family that includes turmeric and cardamom. India is the largest producer of ginger.
Ginger is usually harvested after 6 months but for preparing dry ginger, the crop is usually harvested after 8 months when it has a tough skin and the root is more pungent. If extracting essential oil is the main purpose, it is usually harvested after 9 months. For making candied ginger or pickled ginger, it is harvested at 5 months when the rhizomes are very tender with mild favour.
Various Forms Of Ginger:
a. Fresh Roots:
We use fresh ginger root extensively in almost all the dishes. When buying fresh ginger make sure to buy the root that breaks with a snap which indicates that it is fresh.
b. Dried Ginger
Dried Ginger is called sonth in Hindi and sukku in Tamil. We use it mainly in home remedies for treating cough, cold and indigestion. Gingerols are found slightly reduced in dried ginger but it contains higher concentrations of shogaols which are the major gingerol dehydration products.
c. Pickled Ginger
Pickled ginger is usually made by cutting young ginger roots into small pieces and soaking them along with salt, sugar and vinegar.
d. Crystallized Ginger
Crystallized Ginger also called as candied ginger is made by boiling ginger pieces along with sugar. Then the water is srained and the ginger pieces are baked till dry and chewy. The dried ginger pieces are then coated in sugar.
e. Ginger Powder
Ginger powder is ground up dried ginger, I always stock ginger powder at home as I use it in certain baked goods like ginger cookies and gingerbread.
100 grams of a ginger contains around 80 calories, 17 grams of carbohydrates, .75 grams of fat, 1.8 g of protein and it is rich in vitamin B1 vitamin B2, niacin, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin c, vitamin e and minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
Ginger contains more than hundred compounds and the most important active compounds responsible for many of its medicinal uses are gingerol, shogaols, zingiberene and zingerone. Among the active compounds, gingerol is considered the primary component.
Ginger Botanical and Common Names
The botanical name of ginger is Zingiber officinale. Ginger is called Adrak in Hindi, Inji in Tamil, Alha in Marathi, Inchi in Malayalam, Allam in Telugu, Sunthi in Kannada, Ada in Bengali, Adu in Gujarati, Adaraka in Punjabi and Ale in Marathi.
Ginger Traditional Uses
Traditionally ginger is used for treating all digestive problems like indigestion, bloating, belching and vomiting. Ginger is also extensively used for treating throat pain, cold and cough. Ginger tea is consumed world over for treating nausea and vomiting. Ginger poultice is applied to reduce pain and inflammation.
Ginger Health Benefits & Medicinal Uses
1. Antioxidant properties
Ginger root contains very high levels of antioxidants and it helps decrease age-related oxidative stress. Ginger effectively fights off free radicals which cause premature ageing. Due to its high antioxidant properties, it also has a protective effect on our brain, liver and kidneys.
Oxidative stress, neuroinflammation and protein misfolding are the reasons for age related neurological disorders and since ginger helps reduce inflammation, prevent oxidative stress and cell death, it greatly helps prevent age related neurological problems.
2. Anti-inflammatory Properties
Ginger has been used as a remedy for reducing inflammation for centuries, gingerol and shogaols have been proven to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Here in our village, we apply ginger poultice to reduce inflammation and pain. People who are suffering from arthritis will greatly benefit consuming ginger in therapeutic dosages.
3. Anti Nausea Properties
Ginger is used world over for treating nausea and vomiting. Here in our village, we use it all the time. When I was pregnant, I had severe vomiting sensation the entire pregnancy and only ginger tea helped. Ginger is also recommended for treating nausea and vomiting associated with certain illnesses. In a study, patients who took ginger before gynaecology laparoscopy experienced less nausea and vomiting.
4. Anticancer Properties
Zerumbone, gingerol and shogaol present in ginger have powerful anticancer properties against many cancer cell lines including lymphoma, hepatoma, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, bladder cancer and liver cancer! It does this by causing cancer cell cycle arrest, decreasing multiplication of cancer cells and causing cancer cell death.
5. Metabolic Diseases
Metabolic diseases are diabetes, high triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Ginger is helpful for all these diseases. A study was done on 85 patients who were divided into two groups, one group were given ginger extract and the second group were given placebo.
The group that consumed ginger experienced significant reduction in triglyceride, LDL cholesterol and VLDL levels compared to placebo group. Ginger components are platelet activation inhibitors and since anti platelet therapy is an effective approach for preventing coronary heart disease, ginger greatly helps just like aspirin but without any of its side effects.
Gingerol and shogaol present in ginger greatly helps bring down high blood sugar levels. Ginger also helps bring down high blood pressure levels and you can read the study that supports the claim here.
6. Ginger Benefits For Asthma:
Ginger is very famous for treating respiratory illnesses like asthma which is characterized by inflammation and hypersensitivity to different substances. Ginger helps by suppressing allergic reactions to the substances and reducing inflammation, you can read the study that supports this claim here.
7. Gastroprotective Properties
We always resort to ginger for treating almost all stomach ailments. We use both the dried ginger and the fresh root for treating digestive problems like constipation, indigestion, belching, bloating, gastritis, gastric ulcer, nausea and vomiting.
For treating bloating, we grind dry ginger along with buttermilk and salt and consume once, it greatly helps immediately. We also consume ginger tea for treating nausea belching and vomiting. This traditional use has been proven through research too.
8. Treats Migraine Headaches
Ginger tea is an effective remedy for treating headaches and we use it all the time, this has been proven through research. In a study, 60 participants who were suffering from migraine headaches were divided into two groups. One group received 400 mg of ginger extract and the other group received placebo. Patients who took ginger experienced relief from headache after 1 to 2 hours.
9. For Periods Pain & Excess Flow
Ginger is truly a women’s friend as it helps treat many problems specific to women. Many women suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding and intense pain during mensuration, ginger will help with both. In a study, 92 young women who experienced heavy menstrual bleeding were recruited and they were evaluated for 3 consecutive menstrual cycles.
They were then divided into two groups, one group received ginger, another group received placebo capsules. There was a significant reduction in blood loss in the group that received ginger.
Ginger also helps reduce menstrual pain. In a study, 500 mg of ginger capsules 3 times a day greatly helped reduce menstrual pain. If you don’t want to take ginger capsules, try ginger tea. It will greatly help reduce the pain.
10. Ginger Benefits For Weight loss
Consuming ginger water along with lemon is a very popular remedy for reducing excess body weight. Ginger helps decrease appetite and also helps increase the thermic effect of food. A review of 14 studies related to weight loss and ginger indicate that ginger does help with weight loss but interestingly the effect is more in animal studies (rats). If you are on a weight loss diet, try including ginger tea in your diet regularly.
Ginger Side Effects:
Ginger has been used for centuries in cooking so in regular doses it will not cause any problems at all. But in therapeutic dosages, it will interact with diabetic and blood pressure medications. You can read the complete side effects here.
It is best not to go above 4 grams per day to prevent any side effects. Usually for treating nausea 1 gram is recommended and 250 mg for menstrual pain, 500 mg for morning sickness and arthritic pain. These are general suggestions, if you are suffering from any medical conditions, please consult your physician before taking ginger in large amounts daily.
3 Top Ways To Consume Ginger:
1. Ginger Water:
Ginger water is nothing but fresh ginger infused in water for a few hours. Ginger water can be made plain or it can be combined with other spices and herbs like lemon and cucumber to make a refreshing drink. You can find all my favourite ginger water recipes here.
2. Ginger Juice:
Ginger juice is the concentrated essence of ginger. Ginger juice is made by grinding fresh ginger with water and is usually sweetened with honey, it is also called ginger shot, you can find how to make it here.
3. Ginger Tea
Ginger tea is one of my favourite drinks and we prepare it in many ways at home and you can find all my favourite ginger tea recipes here. From treating menstrual pain and headaches to aiding weight loss, it does have wide uses !