Ginger is a spice that is very famous when it comes to the world of culinary, most especially in Asian cuisine. But aside from its essential uses in a huge range of savoury recipes, it's also a prized herbal medicine for its many therapeutic properties where it can treat different ailments.
It is commonly called as ginger root and is known for its pungent, aromatic rhizome or underground stem. It has been used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine for centuries where it is usually used as a tonic root to treat common ailments. As a culinary spice, ginger was known to stimulate the appetite, reduce bloating, flatulence and indigestion.
It is usually ground or dried to flavour sauces, curry dishes, tea, sweets and ginger ale. Ginger is also used in aromatherapy and perfume-making for its pungent, warm and aromatic scent.
Learn and discover the different benefits you could get from this powerful spice and what makes it essential not only for its culinary uses but also its therapeutic properties.
History and Origin
Ginger has a scientific name of Zingiber officinale and comes from the same family as turmeric and cardamom which is the Zingiberaceae family. The term ginger came from its generic name Zingiber that is derived from the Greek word zingiberis, which comes from the Sanskrit term “singabera” that means ‘shaped like a horn’ due to the shape of its root.
Ginger is native to the Southeast Asian region, where its use as a culinary spice spans at least 4,000 years. It grows in tropical countries that can provide fertile and moist soil. It can be easily grown at home by planting its rhizomes in moist and fertile soil and providing it plenty of water and bright sun.
During the early years, only the rich can buy ginger as it is considered a luxurious item. In the course of 13th and 14th centuries, a half kilo of ginger was equivalent to the cost of live sheep or any piece of livestock.
Europeans highly sought ginger, wherein they traded with China and India during the 16th and 17th centuries and used it for cooking. In the year 1884, England imported more than 5 million pounds of ginger.
Today, India is the largest producer of ginger followed by China.
Ginger's Nutritional Value
Ginger contains abundant vitamins and minerals. It is a rich source of potassium and contains minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and sodium. When it comes to vitamins ginger is a great source of B-complex vitamins, especially Vitamin B2, B3, B6 and B9.
Here are the following vitamins and minerals that are present in fresh ginger:
Magnesium boosts metabolism, protein and calcium production as well as muscle and nerve function.
Phosphorus repairs tissues and cells, as well as filtering body waste, supporting strong bones and teeth.
Zinc is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system, metabolism and your senses.
1. Lowers Bad Cholesterol. Studies show that raw ginger can significantly lower cholesterol and triglycerides levels. High triglycerides levels can increase your risk of having heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
2. Alleviates Arthritis Pain.Ginger extract can effectively reduce inflammation of joints and alleviate arthritis pain if you are suffering from musculoskeletal disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
3. Strengthens Immunity.Provide anti-viral properties and help boost your immunity to prevent you from infections and viruses since it has antiviral, antibacterial and high antioxidant properties that support your overall health.
4. Aids Digestion. Can help with your stomach problems, especially if you have indigestion and flatulence. You can take Thompson’s Digestion Manager 60 Capsules that effectively helps in maintaining a healthy digestive function.
5. Boosts Memory. Consuming ginger has been claimed to enhance memory and provide protection against brain damage. You can take Caruso’s Memory Recall Tablets which is beneficial for supporting your cognitive function.
6. Eases Menstrual Pain.Ginger can be an alternative for NSAIDs for treating dysmenorrhea. Try taking Oriental Botanicals Women’s QI 30 Tablets to promote normal menstruation and balance irregular menstrual cycles.
7. Cardiovascular Health. Daily consumption of ginger has been linked to healthier heart and may reduce your risk of having heart diseases and chronic conditions. Since it lowers lipoprotein and cholesterol levels.
8. Regulates Glucose Levels. Clinical trials prove that ginger supplementation with diabetic patients has effectively reduced their blood sugar levels which can help in alleviating potential complications of type 2 diabetes.
9. Relieves Nausea.Can help reduce pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting. You can take Blackmores Travel Calm Ginger to help reduce symptoms of travel sickness such as nausea, vomiting, vertigo and cold sweats.
Children:For children under 2 years of age, ginger should not be used. While for 2 years and older, it can be used to treat nausea, digestive cramping and headaches. Adjust dosage according to the child’s weight, the appropriate dose of ginger is half of the adult dose.
Adult: Remember not to take more than four grams of ginger per day as it may cause serious side effects such as heartburn and could interfere with medications you are taking especially blood-thinning medications. Dosage amounts vary depending on different conditions:
For nausea, indigestion and motion sickness:
2 to 4 grams daily of fresh ginger root (0.25 to 1 g of powdered root) or
1.5 to 3ml of tincture every day, consider the strength and processing of the tincture.
For relieving colds, flu, menstrual cramps and headache:
2 tablespoons of fresh shredded ginger boiled in hot water, to be taken orally.
Inhale 1 drop of ginger oil or fresh ginger root placed in steaming water.
If you have dysmenorrhea, the recommended dosage is 250mg of ginger powder taken 4 times a day.
For arthritis relief:
Fresh ginger tea, juice or extract, 2 to 4 grams daily.
Apply ginger oil or fresh ginger in a warm compress, then apply to painful joints and muscles.
If you have osteoarthritis, the recommended dosage is 250mg of ginger extract.
Precautions and Interactions
Ginger has been classified as GRAS or “generally recognized as safe” by the Food and Drug Administration. We suggest that you should talk to your healthcare practitioner about taking any dietary supplements or medications you are taking, before using ginger as complementary medicine.
Children and Pregnant Women
Kept out of reach of children for it may cause serious side effects when not properly administered. If you are pregnant or nursing, you should consult your healthcare professional before taking ginger products internally. It is also advised that dried ginger root should not be used during pregnancy since some studies high amounts of ginger intake might cause miscarriage.
Some say that you should be cautious of using ginger if you are taking anticoagulants which are anti-platelet and blood-thinning medications such as warfarin, apixaban, edoxaban that are usually used to prevent blood clots. Ginger can interact with these kinds of medications.
Gastric Ulcer and Gallstones
Ginger is contraindicated in people who are suffering from gallstones and gastric ulcers or reflux since it promotes bile flow from the gallbladder. We suggest consulting your healthcare provider before taking ginger. Though ginger is considered safe, if taken in excessive doses, it may cause heartburn, bloating, belching and nausea especially if taken in powdered form.
Ginger is safe for internal use. However, avoid using this kind of oil if you have an allergy. Some of the signs that tell you are allergic from ginger are skin rashes, difficulty in breathing and chest pain. Therefore, an allergic reaction to ginger should be considered a medical emergency.
Be advised that the use of high doses of ginger should be suspended a week before major surgery. Also, it can lower your blood sugar levels that might interfere with the blood sugar control before and after surgical procedures.