Since 5000 years
Ginger is the rhizome of Zingiber offinale plant, used as a spice by many cultures around the world, especially in India and China. Ginger is a well-known medicine in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) since 5000 years. Till today you can find abundant use of ginger in the both Chinese and Indian culinary dishes and home remedies.
Fresh versus dry
Ginger can be used both in fresh and dry form. Fresh ginger has a warming quality and the dry ginger on the other hand, has a hot nature. The ginger harvested between 4 to 5 months old are called young ginger, and they usually have a mild flavor and are juicy in texture. Such young ginger is less pungent and can be eaten raw.
As the ginger ages, the more stronger it becomes. The dry ginger contain higher volatile oil compare to the fresh ginger. Gingers volatile oil (essential oil) is highly medicinal. Gingers oil is light yellowish in color, contain pleasant smell and is mainly composed of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenoids.
These compounds are known for their calming properties, supporting the immune system, fighting harmful microbes, acting as antioxidants as well assisting in cellular repair. Generally, gingers essential oil is used for pain relieving (analgesic), promoting tranquility (sedative), activating digestive fire (agni) and fighting bacterial infection.
An ancient medicine
Ginger is a very common herb used in Ayurveda for treating ailments such as indigestion, stomach bloating, circulation disorder and respiratory issues. Ayurveda recommends the use of fresh ginger for nausea related issues such as vomiting, morning sickness and motion sickness.
The dry ginger is used for respiratory related conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) on the other hand, uses fresh ginger for dispersing cold related issues such as coldness in the stomach resulted from poor digestion. Some people can experience nausea and vomiting due to stagnation in the stomach. For example, some people can experience nausea after eating fatty food due to indigestion.
The dry ginger on the other hand, has been used to warm up and activate the spleen for enhancing appetite and preventing diarrhea. According to TCM, chronic diarrhea is related to spleen deficiency. The spleen is responsible for the distribution of nutrients and water from the food we eat. When the spleen is weak, the body is unable to absorb food and water properly, leading to diarrhea.
For belching and gas in the stomach
Ginger is a very useful herb for a broad range of digestive issues, such as bloating, belching (burping), abdominal pain, cramping and even constipation. When taken in the form of tea or decoction, ginger helps to activate the digestive fire (agni) in the stomach.
Without enough agni, the food we eat can become stagnant in the gut. Stagnated food would start to ferment, producing gas and bloating the stomach. Ginger is a wonderful warming herb that helps to stimulate the digestive fire. Gingerol, which is the most predominant bio-active compound in ginger, helps to stimulate the digestive enzymes.
Drinking a cup of ginger tea before a meal, stimulates the appetite and gets the digestive juices flowing. Ginger also induces intestinal peristalsis, easing constipation and increasing metabolism in the body. Ginger with its pungent principles is also known as a liver protective spice, which stimulates the bile production. Bile plays an important role in digestion, as all the other digestive fluids.
For anti-inflammation & anti-arthritis
Ginger has been widely used for many inflammatory diseases. Many reports reveal ginger to relief pain and swelling in patients suffering from arthritis, rheumatism and muscular discomfort when used continuously for a few months.
Researchers suggest, that the anti-inflammatory effects of ginger is related to its ability to inhibit prostaglandin and leukotriene biosynthesis. Ginger compress can be used to dissolve stagnation, release tension, melt blockages, stimulate circulation and energy flow. When ginger is used as compress, the warming property of ginger, has the ability to draw blood to the applied area.
Inflammation is a natural process of human body to heal itself by pooling an infected area with lots of blood. But sometimes due to poor elimination, the body would not be able to disperse the toxins accumulated in the inflamed tissue.
This will cause more pain and swelling. Ginger compress can be very useful in such condition, for breaking stagnation and relieving the pain. Ginger compress is also effective in dissolving accumulations of hardened fat and clots such as cysts and uterine fibroids.
For cold and flu
Ginger is excellent to be used if you catch a cold or have a flu. Ginger works quite effectively for many upper respiratory complaints such as cough, running nose, sore throat and stuffy nose.
A warm cup of ginger tea or decoction with some honey helps to remove mucus and congested cough. Ginger tea helps to keep your body warm and cozy when you feel chill & shivering due to cold and flu.
The anti-microbial property in ginger helps further with sore throat which often can come in combination with cold and flu.
Consideration before taking ginger
Ginger has a quite warming and drying properties and therefore it should not be taken in excess by those who have hot & dry body constitution.
If you have a dry skin, dry eyes, always feeling warm at the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, intolerant to moderately hot weather and having dry stools, then most probably you are having a hot and dry body constitution. You should limit the consumption of ginger to prevent aggravating your condition.
Look for ginger recipe here.