Fresh ginger is easy to find in the markets and is definitely one of my favourite spices especially fresh. It is thought to have originated in China spreading to India, Southeast Asia, West Africa, and the Caribbean and so on. The part of the plant used is the swollen roots or to be precise the rhizomes, which are swollen underground stems. The plant has pointed leaves and produces yellow-green flowers with a deep-purple lip. The rhizomes are used either fresh or dried and used in the form of a powder.
Ginger is described as sweetish, definitely pungent, and spicy with a really wonderful aroma. Medicinally ginger is described as a herb, it increases perspiration, improves digestion, liver function, controls nausea, vomiting and coughing. It stimulates circulation, relaxes spasms and relieves pain. Ginger is perhaps best known for helping with travel sickness, nausea, morning sickness, indigestion, colic, abdominal chills, colds, coughs, flu and circulatory problems. Definitely a warming herb, and traditionally has been used in “cold” conditions.
Research shows ginger is effective in helping – hypoglycaemia, cholesterol problems, and has anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to increases peristalsis and the secretion of bile and gastric juices. Ginger been used for centuries in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) with much success. It is very effective in removing excess moisture in the body – such as catarrh and phlegm. In its more recent history ginger has been sold in capsule form – found in most health store.
It can also be used externally, for spasmodic pain, rheumatism, lumbago, menstrual cramps, bruises, and sprains. In aromatherapy (external use only) ginger is used to warm the body and the mind, helping to relief pain and inflammation. Initial studies have shown that the active ingredients in ginger are compounds called gingerols and that have a similar structure to capsaicin, their active ingredients are known anti-inflammatory pain relievers. Ginger helps to increase the production of digestive juices, helping to relieve indigestion, gas pains, diarrhoea and stomach cramping.
Do not give ginger to children under the age of 2 years old it is far too strong for them. Put fresh ginger in a paper bag and store in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator or peel and chop it up and put in the freezer. In the UK green ginger is used to make wine, in France a liquor is made from ginger. In India it is used to spice tea called chai, and numerous dishes from bean and lentil curries to fresh chutneys. We are all familiar with pickled ginger slices in Japanese cuisine. Ginger powder is used to spice up coffee in many parts of the Middle East.
Here is a recipe of that wonderful aromatic tea called chai traditionally drank in India, Nepal etc. Place three mugs full of water or 50:50 water and milk (organic soy milk, or rice milk) into a pan. Add a few crushed cardamom pods, whole cloves, cinnamon bark or powdered, and a few slices of fresh ginger. Bring to the boil gradually, simmer for a short while, then remove from the heat and add green tea, allow it to steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not sweeten, however if you need to add a little honey or stevia.
It is very important to understand that ginger will not help everyone, for some it could make it worse. Ginger is a heating herb and if you have a ‘hot’ condition (not everyone does), ginger could make things worse. If this is the case then I would suggest cinnamon, it is a warming spices as a opposed to a heating spice and cinnamon is renowned for increasing circulation to the joints Ginger or cinnamon are not cures for your condition, however they can be another valuable part of the gig saw, part of an overall strategy that all work collectively and synergistically to bring about pain relief.
|Sonia Jones ND
Naturopath, nutritional therapist, owner of spa and health clinic, author of three published books