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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ginger - The natural wonder root.

This wonder spice has time-tested, digestion-friendly properties, in addition to its numerous other health benefits. In India, ginger is liberally used in daily life. Ginger-infused tea is a household favorite, and its grandma’s antidote of choice for battling cold and flu. Ginger is probably one of the world's favorite medicines and cooking ingredients. Ginger root has been used in Ayurveda for centuries and its fresh pungent flavor makes it an essential spice for Indian and Asian cuisine. This vigorous herb helps in relieving arthritis, colic, diarrhea, and heart conditions, common cold, flu-like symptoms, headaches, and even painful menstrual periods.
While this thick, tuberous root may not look very attractive, its pungent rather lemony taste has made it one of the most popular culinary spices all over the world, enlivening otherwise rather bland dishes and transforming them into meals fit for a king or queen! It is said that because of its heavenly taste ginger was found growing in the Garden of Eden. Ginger's culinary qualities are a delight, but its health benefits are simply stunning.
With green stems that can grow to a metre high, the plant is valued for its rhizomes that can be consumed fresh or dried. Ginger has been used in Asian, Arabic and Indian cultures as an herbal medicine since ancient times. While it originated in South-East Asia, it spread across Asia and other tropical regions and was exported to ancient Rome from India.
Ginger reached the west at least 2000 years ago and was imported in a preserved form. This flavorsome plant is used in many recipes and, in some Asian cuisines, it is pickled and served as an accompaniment.
Plant Description
Ginger has a perennial rhizome or stems which creeps and increases in size underground. Roots grow from the bottom of the rhizome and shoots from the upper surface. In the spring it sends up from its rhizome a green reed-like stalk about 2 feet high, with narrow lanceolate leaves. These leaves die back after the growing season. The flowering stalk rises directly from the rhizome with the leaves and consists of an oblong spike with scalloped green bracts. From each bract one or more white or yellowish-green flowers is produced, blooming for several days. The underground rhizome is the source of commercial "ginger root".
The healing property of ginger comes from the volatile oils, such as gingerols, that are responsible for its strong taste. The rhizomes from younger ginger plants are generally used for cooking because the older the plant is, the more essential oils are present and the stronger the flavour. Rhizomes from older plants are harvested for medicinal uses.
Botanical name
Ginger or ginger root is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, consumed as a delicacy, medicine, or spice.
The plant's botanical name is thought to be derived from its Sanskrit name singabera which means "horn shaped," a physical characteristic that ginger reflects.It lends its name to its genus and family Zingiberaceae
Part Used
Root (rhizome) of ginger is used.In Ayurveda, distinction is made between fresh ginger root and dried ginger root. It’s said that they have different action and effect inside the body when consumed. For example, in conditions like nausea and digestive disorders fresh ginger is suggested,  while dry ginger is suggested for chronic respiratory illness, neurological cases etc.
Ginger in Ayurveda
Its name ‘ vishwabheshaj ‘or ‘ vishwaaushadha ‘ in sanskrit explains its usefullness, meaning medicine which is helpful in almost all diseases. Ginger is mainly used in two forms fresh form and dry form; the prior is commonly known as Adrak in hindi and the later is called Sounth in hindi and  Suntha in marathi.
Being hot and pungent in nature, it controls vitiated Vata and Kapha which are basically cold in nature. When administered in proper form and dose, it is said to combat excess of Vata in the gastrointestinal tract and regulate the digestive functions. Due to its action on Kapha and Vata it is used widely in the Respiratory disorders.
Ayurvedic practitioners consider ginger to be a truly a wonder drug, having so many healing properties. It is called the universal medicine. Taken with rock salt it reduces vayu; with candy sugar it reduces Pitta; with honey it reduces Kapha. Thus it can be used to influence all tridoshas.
Properties of Dry Ginger:
Taste :Katu Rasa( Pungent)
Nature :Snigdha(Unctous),Laghu (light)
Ushna Veerya: Hot in potency
Madhura Vipaka: Post metabolic Sweetness
Laghupaaka: Light for digestion/Aids proper digestion
Action on Doshas: Kapha-Vata Hara – Alleviates aggravated Vata and Kapha.
In Ayurvedic medicine, the ginger is used in its wet(Ardraka) and dry(Shunti) forms.Either individually or as a component in compound preparations like decoctions, powders etc.
In  Ayurveda the pungent and warming properties of ginger have long been used to enhance the “fire” in the body, which is responsible for proper digestion, body heat, visual perception, hunger, thirst, the luster of the skin, the light in the eyes, the clarity in the mind, intelligence, determination and courage.
Dry v/s Wet
A distinction is made between fresh ginger root and dried ginger root. It is said that they have different action and effect inside the body when consumed. For example, in conditions like nausea and digestive disorders, fresh ginger is suggested.
It is very effective for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. It decrease nausea associated with radiation and chemotherapy too. On the other hand, dry ginger is suggested for conditions like chronic respiratory illnesses and neurological disorders
Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger at a ratio of 6 : 1, although the flavors of fresh and dried ginger are somewhat different. Powdered dry ginger root is typically used as a flavoring for recipes such as gingerbread, cookies, crackers and cakes.

Various forms of use
Ginger is available in six forms: fresh, dried, pickled, preserved, crystallized (or candied), and powdered or ground. Candied ginger, or crystallized ginger, is the root cooked in sugar until soft, and is a type of confectionery.
Today herbalists use ginger in many forms including tea, essential oils, compresses, bath products and creams- but there is still nothing to beat a slice of fresh raw ginger for effectiveness. Ginger’s pungent taste and fresh smell have also made it one of the most popular culinary spices all over the world. A dash of ginger truly ‘gingers’ up an ordinary dish and transforms it into a gourmet delight!
Fresh ginger can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks if it is left unpeeled. Dried ginger powder and ginger capsules should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place.
Medicinal properties of ginger...
Anti emetic/anti nausea                                      Carminative    
Expectorant                                                      Hypotensive 
Analgesic                                                          Diaphoretic
Antitussive                                                        Increases blood flow
Anti clotting agent                                             Antispasmodic 
Anti fungal                                                       Anti inflammatory
Antiseptic                                                         Antibacterial 
Antiviral                                                           Sialagogue

Medicinal Benefits:
  • It is a wonderful warming aid to digestion, stimulating appetite and enhancing digestion and absorption of nutrients by encouraging secretion of digestive enzymes. It moves stagnation of undigested food and subsequent accumulation of toxins that can have a far reaching effect on our general state of health, our immunity and vitality.Ginger can be chewed after meals in conditions like indigestion, gastritis, flatulence, gastrointestinal infection, and parasites. This protective action of ginger is attributable to the excessive secretion of saliva.
  • If you feel heavy and bloated after consumption of non-vegetarian and fried fatty food, you can try this remedy – take half a teaspoon of fresh ginger juice, one teaspoonful each of lime juice and fresh mint juice mixed in a teaspoonful of honey.
  • If you have painful periods, take a small piece of fresh ginger, pound it, and boil in a cup of water for a few minutes, sweetened with sugar and take this thrice daily.
  • Ginger acts as good medicine for throat problems. Chewing a piece of fresh ginger along with clove and a crystal of common salt acts as an excellent remedy for pharyngitis, loss of voice due to shouting or singing;  colds, rhinitis, enlarged uvula, tonsillitis, etc.
  • For those who suffer from dental sensitiveness or toothache caused by eating sour fruits, ginger gives good relief. Burn it and mix with common salt. This can be used as toothpowder.
  • If you are suffering from diarrhea and dysentery, fresh ginger can be taken with buttermilk twice or thrice daily.
  • As an anti-inflammatory treatment in conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. For Painful joints mix 3 drops essential oil of ginger root and 1 teaspoon of almond oil. Rub on inflamed or painful joints and cover with a dry cloth to hold in the heat.
  • To treat migrane headaches, especially in conjunction with other herbal therapies.
  • Topical application for acute inflammatory conditions, like a ginger compress for acute mastitis.
  • Pour 1cup freshly boiled water over 1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped ginger root. Cover it for 10 minutes, then strain. Drink 3 or 4 times a day. Effective for both gastrointestinal and menstrual cramps.
  • A teaspoon of fresh ginger juice mixed in a cup of fenugreek tea made with 1 tablespoon of fenugreek seeds and honey to taste acts as an excellent expectorant in cases of asthma.
  • Take a mixture of half a teaspoon each of powdered ginger, 2 peppercorns and  1-2 cloves three times daily with honey or as an infusion or tea in bronchitis.
  • Half a teaspoon of ginger juice to be taken with one half boiled egg and honey daily night for a month. Relieves impotence and premature ejaculation. Found to improve sperm count in many cases. Ayurvedic texts credit ginger with aphrodisiac properties
  • Ginger clears the ‘microcirculatory channels’ of the body, including the pesky sinuses that tend to flare up from time to time.
  • Ginger is truly the best remedy for nausea, whether caused by travel sickness, pregnancy, anxiety, over eating or a stomach bug. This fact has long been known by sailors in the East where for centuries ginger preparations have been taken to keep sea sickness at bay during long voyages in stormy seas. It has recently been used with great success in hospitals for post-operative nausea,post-chemotherapy nausea.Ginger is a known effective remedy for the nausea associated with motion sickness.Chew on ginger, preferably tossed in a little honey before taking a plane flight can prevent motion sickness.
  • Ginger improves the absorption and stimulation of essential nutrients in the body. It does this by stimulating gastric and pancreatic enzyme secretion.
  • Ginger contains some of the most potent anti-inflammatory fighting substances known and is a natural powerful painkiller.
  •  If you’re suffering from common respiratory diseases such as a cough, ginger aids in expanding your lungs and loosening up phlegm because it is a natural expectorant that breaks down and removes mucus. That way you can quickly recover from difficulty in breathing.
  • Consuming a little bit ginger a day can help foil potential risk of a stroke by inhibiting fatty deposits from the arteries.
  • Chew little pieces of the root, fresh or crystallized, you will find that ginger settles the stomach, soothes indigestion and calms wind. Its pain relieving and relaxing effects in the gut relieve colic and spasm, and help to stop griping caused by diarrhea or dysentery. Ginger also helps to reduce flatulence!
  • Ginger thins the blood and inhibits clotting; it lowers harmful cholesterol levels and reduces blood pressure.
  • Ginger has been recommended to invigorate the reproductive organs and to remedy infertility and impotence related to deficiency of vital warmth in the body.
  • Studies show ginger may reduce urine protein levels, decrease water intake and urine output, and reverse proteinuria, which is kidney damage caused by too much protein in the urine. Ginger may also protect nerves in diabetics and lower blood fat levels.
  • By stimulating the circulation, encouraging perspiration and enabling the digestive tract to eliminate toxins, ginger helps the body to fight off infection. The volatile oils that lend ginger its characteristic taste and smell are highly antiseptic, activating immunity and dispelling a whole variety of bacterial and viral infections.
  • It is a wonderful warming aid to digestion, stimulating appetite and enhancing digestion and absorption of nutrients by encouraging secretion of digestive enzymes. It moves stagnation of undigested food and subsequent accumulation of toxins that can have a far reaching effect on our general state of health, our immunity and vitality.
  • A teaspoon of fresh ginger juice mixed in a cup of fenugreek tea made with 1 tablespoon of fenugreek seeds and honey to taste, acts as an excellent expectorant in cases of asthma.
  • Ginger is also touted as a natural fertility booster. Ginger is also thought to invigorate the reproductive organs and possibly assist with impotency and premature ejaculation. 
  • It has valuable detoxifying and anti-inflammatory properties and these combined with its analgesic effects can be very helpful in the treatment of rheumatism and arthritis.
  • Ginger has also been shown to have antioxidative properties, inhibiting free radicals in the body and thereby further aiding immunity, protecting the heart and circulation and promoting longevity.
  • For migraine, have two tablespoon of dry ginger powder with warm water before the pain intensifies, and for sinus congestion take 1 teaspoon fresh ginger juice with 1 teaspoon honey 2-3 times a day.
  • Ginger thins the blood and inhibits clotting, lowers harmful cholesterol levels and reduces blood pressure. 
  • Ginger’s warming and stimulating properties can work wonders for many common health problems. Ginger stimulates circulation, and enhances the blood flow throughout the body. It is a wonderful warming aid to digestion for it sharpens the appetite and enhances the absorption of nutrients, by encouraging secretion of digestive enzymes. Ginger also helps to move stagnation of undigested food and subsequent accumulation of toxins that can have a far reaching effect on our general state of health, our immunity and vitality. Not only does ginger stoke the digestive fire and whet the appetite, it improves assimilation and transportation of nutrients to targeted body tissues.
  • In the study, ginger actually suppressed cancer cells suggesting that the herb was able to fuel apoptosis or the death of the cancer cells. Ginger has been shown to work against skin, ovarian, colon and breast cancer. But it had not been shown to halt the progression of cancer until now. However, more research is required to confirm this.

The few situations in which ginger is contraindicated are in cases of hyperacidity, during any form of hemorrhage, If you are pregnant, consult an herbalist or a licensed healthcare professional before using large amounts of ginger.

U can do this surely…
Today however regularly adding ginger to your cooking or drinking ginger tea may serve just as well and be more suited to our busy lives.
The next time you are feeling down in the dumps, chilly and tired or that a cold is threatening, why not try a steaming hot cup of ginger tea a few times through the day and feel your mood and energy revive, and that stuffy feeling begin to clear…a touch of Paradise to refresh the spirits and make you feel alive.
If you can eat raw ginger, a good way to take it is to dip two or three thin slices of ginger in a little salt and limejuice and have them before a main meal.
If you find ginger hard to eat raw or by itself because of its pungent taste, consider adding two or three thin slices to your vegetables or lentils as they cook. Another way to eat ginger is to sauté some grated ginger in a tablespoon of ghee and add the mixture to warm milk (add sweetener if you like) or desserts or other dishes.
To remove the skin from fresh mature ginger, peel with a paring knife. The ginger can then be sliced, minced or julienned. The taste that ginger imparts to a dish depends upon when it is added during the cooking process. Added at the beginning, it will lend a subtler flavor while added near the end, it will deliver a more pungent taste.
Turn up the heat while cooling off by making ginger lemonade. Simply combine freshly grated ginger, lemon juice, cane juice or honey and water.
Ginger Tea
To make a tea, cut a two-inch cube of rhizome into slices and simmer them in one cup of water on low heat for 10 minutes. Cover the pot while cooking to retain as many volatile constituents as possible. Remove the slices, and sip the remaining liquid before a meal. Eat the slices after drinking the tea. Drink three cups of tea per day, one before each meal.The amount of ginger root you use will depend on your taste. I normally slice a piece that is around the size of my thumb, but in any event you don’t want your tea to be so pungent that it burns your mouth as you swallow it, at the same time you don’t want it to be so weak that you do not benefit from its therapeutic properties.
With its rather amazing ability to stimulate the circulation, imbuing you with a warmth that extends from the tips of your fingers right down to your toes, while at the same time increasing your energy, lifting the spirits and enhancing your immunity, this is certainly a tea that reaches parts that other teas can’t. 

Growing Ginger at Home
Ginger is very easy to grow and can be grown indoors or outside in pots filled with potting mix, allow enough room in the pots, about 10 to 12 inches deep, for the actual ginger roots to form.
The best time to plant ginger is in the spring. Simply buy some fresh ginger roots at a local grocery store. Choose a smooth, shiny looking root that has some buds beginning to form.
Soak the roots you bought in some water overnight. The following day plant them in the pot(s) just beneath the soil level. Water well.
Once the ginger has started to grow, feed every two to three weeks with a general pot-plant feed. A mature ginger plant will grow between two to four feet tall. Stems and leaves may reach up to a foot long and resemble those of lily.Harvest ginger roots after the rhizome has grown for around three to four months.



Many thanks for the enlightenment Madam Vaishali. Keep writing on more topics.

Anthony Monteiro

Vaishali Kamat said...

Thank U !!

Akami Ayurveda said...

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Vani said...

I came across through your blog. I found the valuable information about ayurveda. Thanks for sharing.
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