Since ancient times ginger root has been used as an effective remedy for many day to day common ailments. It is a real medical marvel and Eastern food even today uses copious amounts both for flavour and for the health giving benefits…
The ginger plant grows mainly in tropical countries – it is a creeping perennial with thick, tuberous underground stems and can grow up to one metre high. According to Chinese tradition, dried ginger tends to be hotter than fresh.
Ginger is available in various forms:
- Whole fresh roots. These provide the freshest taste.
- Dried roots.
- Powdered ginger. This is ground made from the dried root- Preserved or ‘stem’ Fresh young roots are peeled, sliced and cooked in heavy sugar syrup.
- Crystallised ginger. This is also cooked in sugar syrup, air dried and rolled in sugar.
- Pickled ginger. The root is sliced paper thin and pickled in vinegar. This pickle, known in Japan as gari, often accompanies sushi to refresh the palate between
The many curative properties of ginger are widely researched. Used on the skin it can stimulate the circulation and soothe burns. As a diaphoretic it encourages perspiration, so it can be used in feverish conditions such as influenza or colds. The root, which is the part of the plant most widely used in alternative forms of medicine, is rich in volatile oils. It is these oils that contain the active component gingerol.
Soothes digestive system…
Historically, ginger has a long tradition of being very effective in alleviating discomfort and pain in the stomach. Ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative, a substance that promotes the elimination of excessive gas from the digestive system and soothes the intestinal tract. Colic, and dyspepsia , respond particularly well to ginger.
Gingerroot appears to reduce the symptoms associated with motion sickness including dizziness, nausea, vomiting and cold sweating. Ginger has also been used to treat the nausea and vomiting associated with mild symptoms of pregnancy sickness.
Ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These substances are believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly. Gingerols inhibit the formation of inflammatory cytokines; chemical messengers of the immune system.
How to select and store
Fresh ginger can be purchased in most supermarkets. Mature ginger has a tough skin that requires peeling. Fresh ginger can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks if it is left unpeeled. Whenever possible, choose fresh ginger over dried since it is superior in flavour and contains higher levels of the active component gingerol. The root should be fresh looking, firm, smooth and free of mould with no signs of decay or wrinkled skin. If choosing dry ginger, keep it in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark dry place for no more than six months.
Ginger is very safe for a broad range of complaints, whether it is taken in a concentrated capsule form, eaten fresh or sipped as a tea or ginger ale. Ginger contains moderate amounts of oxalate. Individuals with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should avoid overconsuming ginger. If you’re unsure or concerned whether it is safe for you to consume ginger always consult your doctor.
How to get more ginger into your life… simply eat plenty of recipes containing ginger…
Grated or finely chopped, ginger adds a zing to a stir fry or soup
Ginger goes well with fish
Jams and chutneys also work well with ginger
Try making your own ginger tea:
To make ginger tea (for nausea)…
Steep 20-40g of fresh, sliced ginger in a cup of hot water. Add a slice of lemon or a drop of honey if you fancy.
Ginger tea is great to drink when you feel a cold coming on. It is a diaphoretic tea, meaning that it will warm you from the inside and promote perspiration. It is also good when you don’t have a cold and just want to warm up!