What Is Ginger?
Ginger is a flowering plant formerly from Asia, whose underground rhizome is used as a spice.
It is prized for its culinary as well as medical uses. The ginger root is a small strange looking root that is similar in appearance to cactus.
It oozes a fragrance of surprisingly- pleasant pungent smell. What sets ginger apart is its flavor.
It is similar to that of citrus with some notes of acidity.
Ginger is used as an additive to soup, marinades and other dishes, especially the English and Asian recipes.
Ginger has through the years found its way into all the corners of the world and today is an almost must-have ingredient in every household.
It is used in most of the modern western culinary including tea, baked apples, fried vegetables among others.
Ginger was traded as early as 2000BC. Early traders ferried ginger from South East Asia to Europe where it became a hit in the middle ages.
It was a costly commodity and was used as a priced trade commodity in these times.
At these times, ginger was already known for its healing capabilities.
At some point, Henry VIII asked for its uses as a remedy for a plague.
The Roman traders introduced ginger to South and North America in the middle ages.
With time, the root like substance became popular and quickly gained popularity in South America.
Today, Jamaica, Indonesia, Australia, India, and Fiji are among the leading producers of ginger.
Uses Of Ginger
There are plenty of uses that can be mentioned in medical and culinary fields.
The use of ginger varies depending on the time, purpose and state.
The fresh ginger root is suitable for both nutritional and flavoring purposes.
However, powdered organic ginger can be used as an alternative.
Powdered organic ginger can last up to a year when refrigerated while still holding its fundamental qualities.
You should be keen when buying fresh ginger. Ensure that you buy one that is fresh, free of mold and smooth.
You can find fresh ginger in most grocery stores and Asian markets across the world.
They can be kept fresh while frozen for up to six months.
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Traditional Medicinal Uses Of Ginger
Besides the culinary uses, ginger has been used traditionally as herbal medicine.
It is one of the most used herbs globally even today. It was used in ancient Asia to treat nausea.
It has also been confirmed by modern medicine, and ginger is widely used for this purposes.
Ginger contains various antifungal properties hence its use to treat athlete’s foot.
Other ingredients that make ginger useful include;
paradol- which is an anticancerous compound,
gingerol -which is an anti-oxidation compound and holds antitumor properties
gingerdione -which provides anti-inflammatory control,
zingerone -which is an active antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial.
Medical studies have revealed that ginger controls the production of cytokines – which promote inflammation.
Indicating that the traditional use in India as an anti-inflammation product has now gained medical recognition.
The other Asian uses of the herb include appetite stimulation, promoting perspiration, and promoting the body odor.
Ginger has also been used to treat pain and arthritis in traditional India and other parts of Asia.
The herb was used to treat joint pains and other conditions caused by poor circulation of blood.
It is known to slow the production of LCL and triglycerides in modern medicine.
Ginger has also been used to treat gestational problems such as diarrhea.
It is used to reduce abdominal pains and menstrual cramps in women.
The most common uses of ginger include the treatment of common cold and flu.
This includes coughs, asthma, high fever, halitosis, sinusitis, and heartburn among others.
Some of these traditional an unconventional uses of ginger have been proved to be true by modern medicine while some simply remain myths.
Before we get into the details of what ginger can do for you in modern medicine, let’s explore the consumption of ginger.
Consumption of Ginger
Ginger can be consumed in three main ways.
Either directly by chewing the root, through food and beverages or as a supplement.
The way you consume ginger will mainly depend on your intention.
The best way of using ginger is for defensive purposes other than treatment.
This means that you should make it a part of your lifestyle.
Making ginger a part of your diet will help you deal with most lifestyle diseases, heart conditions, weight problems, digestion issues, frequent colds and other illnesses.
The roots are usually bitter and trying to chew them directly will not be easy.
So I suggest finding ways of incorporating ginger into your daily cooking.
Here are the primary culinary uses of ginger that you can use to incorporate ginger into your diet.
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Culinary Uses Of Ginger
Besides the health benefits you get when you cook with ginger, it makes your food more spicy and tasty than you can imagine.
Some of the ways to cook with ginger include:
1) Ginger tea.
Ginger in tea is the most popular way of ginger consumption. This is because it is easy to make and is also very tasty.
Some of the medicinal benefits of ginger tea include easing indigestion, stomach aches and stress among others.
It also increases heat hence can be used when you have a fever.
You can prepare yourself a cup of ginger tea for healing purposes or just for pleasure.
It comes with a sweet and spicy flavor accentuated by citrus.
To prepare yourself a caffeine free cup of tea, Peel fresh ginger and slice it into microparticles.
You can grind it to get a beautiful texture.
Mix 2 spoons full of ground ginger into 2 cups of water and boil for about 5 minutes.
Filter the water into a cup and add a sweetener for taste. Ginger also pairs well with other flora favors.
You can add some chamomile or lavender to your ginger tea for great taste.
Another way of making ginger tea is by merely using already ground ginger dust.
Just add a spoon full of the dust to a cup of tea and give it 2 to 3 minutes then filter.
Add some sweetener and take it. This beverage is useful during cold weather since it adds heat to the body.
2) Ginger syrup
Making ginger syrup will ease up your use of ginger in the kitchen.
All you will have to do is squirt your syrup into your cup of tea or hot coffee and other recipes including salad dressing and fresh fruits.
The good news is that you can actually preserve the syrup in the fridge for several weeks.
To prepare your ginger syrup, just mix 1 cup of water with 2 cups of sugar and freshly sliced pieces of ginger of a satisfactory amount.
Simmer the mixture until the sugar gets dissolved so that the syrup can thicken.
Strain for 5 minutes then cool it and keep in a sealed container.
3) Candied ginger
Candied ginger is the most popular form of industrially processed ginger.
You may not recognize them by name but probably have come across them.
They are usually cube-shaped pieces of ginger.
They are often found in cand stores and tea shops.
They are coated with sugar and are tan in color.
There are very many ways of using this kind of ginger in your kitchen.
You can sprinkle them on your nutty salad, stir them in any of your beverages, or you can simply eat them.
You can make your own homemade candied ginger.
Simply peel of some fresh ginger roots and cut them into small pieces.
Blanch half a pound of these pieces and add 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water in a saucepan.
Boil them until the temperature hits 225F.
Immediately drain the water off and sprinkle the ginger pieces with granulated sugar of your choice.
Allow it to dry on wax paper then store in a sealed jar.
5) Pickled ginger
Pickled ginger is popularly known for preparing sashimi.
Although it is necessary for helping raw fish go down the gut, pickled ginger has plenty of other uses.
It can be used with sandwiches such as smoked salmon and cucumber.
It also adds flavor to salad and is very useful in all varieties of desserts.
You can prepare your pickled ginger at home and hence improve your kitchen flavors.
Simply mix a cup of rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/4 cup of sugar in a saucepan.
Boil the mixture for about 10 minutes then add 1 cup of sliced ginger and simmer for about 30 minutes or so.
Allow the mixture to cool then store them in a jar. When refrigerated, the pickled ginger can be used for up to a month.
Modern Ginger Health Benefits
As already stated, ginger is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances.
It is also rich in anti-cancer compounds. Ginger helps the digestion systems and other functions of the body.
We have already established that ginger is mostly consumed as a beverage.
Ginger tea is the most common way of using ginger.
On our discussion on the health benefits of ginger, we focus on the uses of ginger tea and not the other forms of ginger.
While ginger is still beneficial when consumed directly or through other foods, most of the modern medical research has foundation on ginger tea.
Secondly, ginger tea is easy to consume since it is highly flavored.
It is usually used to fix stomach disorders and other digestive issues in most parts of the world.
Ginger tea contains most of the original compounds of ginger.
Research shows that ginger tea contains gingernol, shogaol, and zingerone which are the three most important compounds of ginger.
A study has found that zingerone can inhibit inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response of the body that is perfectly normal, however, when acute inflammation occurs may result in conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
This is the reason why ginger is believed to be the best natural remedy to such conditions.
Ginger tea is used for the treatment of inflammatory conditions such as Alzheimer and arthritis.
Medical studies have also proved that ginger is effective in fighting pathogens and viruses, fungi and all bacteria that cause various diseases through a compound known as zerumbone.
Some of the uses of ginger in the modern medicine include relieving nausea, enhancing weight loss, boosting brain power, and controlling blood sugar among others.
Here are the main benefits of ginger as consumed in ginger tea and other sources
Sooth the Stomach
Modern medicine has confirmed the ancient uses of ginger as a natural remedy for nausea, morning sickness, and motion sickness.
Various research studies have shown that ginger tea is effective in relieving stomach complications.
One research in Thailand showed that ginger tea was able to reduce vomiting and nausea in pregnant women by up to 80 percent.
A different study by the University of Rochester also found that ginger tea reduces nausea caused by chemotherapy in adult cancer patients.
The use of ginger tea as a remedy for nausea is a medically accepted practice worldwide.
To increase the effects of your ginger tea, add some lemon.
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Whether you have a stable commune system or you are prone to diseases ginger tea can be beneficial in stabilizing your immunity.
Various studies have shown that ginger can boost human immunity to a great extent.
Ginger contains immune-boosting compounds such as shogaol, gingerols, and paradol.
These compounds are very useful in fighting free radicals and reducing inflammation hence reducing the risks of infection.
In fact, most people use ginger tea to fight cold symptoms, allergies and other diseases as an effective natural remedy.
Test tube studies have revealed that ginger can protect the body against fungal and respiratory tract infections.
The ginger root contains antibacterial and antifungal properties.
It is also useful in protecting against gum infections.
Protects Brain Health
Due to its ant inflammation abilities, ginger has been found capable of improving brain health.
Various studies have linked ginger to the treatment of various brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
In a study whose results were published in Evidence-Based Complementary Medicine publication, taking ginger extracts for two months showed improvement in attention among middle-aged women.
Another study conducted in 2011 on rats showed that ginger provided protection against brain damage and helped improve the memory of the sampled rats.
Ginger was traditionally used as a remedy for pain in many cultures. If you are suffering from chronic pain, joint pains or muscle pains, you should start adding some ginger to your cup of tea.
Ginger has been proved by modern medicine to alleviate pain especially those caused by blood flow issues.
A study on Arthritis showed that ginger could reduce knee pains caused by osteoarthritis. In the study in which 261 patients were monitored, the patients were divided into several groups.
One group was administered with ginger extract while the others were treated with other control measures.
After one month, the percentage of those experiencing reduced knee pains was outstanding among those using ginger extracts.
In a different study conducted bt he Georgia College and State University, it was found that ginger was able to reduce exercise-related pains. It is also a proven fact that ginger is effective in reducing menstrual cramps.
In a study done by the Shahid University in Iran, it was confirmed that ginger root extracts are able to control menstrual pains when taken on a regular basis significantly.
In the study, individuals who took ginger extracts for five days experienced less pain as compared to those who used a placebo.
Increases Weight Loss
Most people have been using ginger tea to shed off weight successfully.
If you are looking to put off some weight, start making your cup of tea with a dash of some ginger every day.
Ginger has been proven to facilitate some activities in the body that may lead to weight loss.
First is the metabolism. Ginger contains substances that increase the body metabolism and hence the rate of food breakdown.
A study published in the European Journal Of Nutrition associated ginger tea with lower waist circumference.
Most models are using ginger tea to cut down on their weigh as well as the waist circumference.
Supports Digestive Health
Ginger was used in ancient ages to solve digestive problems.
Today, ginger has been proven to be a very reliable product for solving digestive problems.
Studies have revealed that ginger can be used to solve stomach conditions such as ulcers and indigestion.
A study done in Taiwan revealed that ginger supplements helped improve gastric motility and doubled the rate of emptying the stomach.
This helps in prevention of dyspepsia. In an animal study carried out in 2011, it was established that ginger helped reduce the formation of aspirin-induced stomach ulcers in animals such as mice and rats.
Promotes Blood Sugar Control
Diabetes is one of the rapidly growing health conditions in the world. According to the World Health Organization, the prevalence of diabetes is expected to double between 2015 and 20130.
Ginger has been proven to be an active component when it comes to controlling blood sugar levels.
A study carried out in Iran found out that ginger tea led to decreased fasting blood sugar and also provided better sugar control.
A different study in the United States in 2014 showed that ginger powder helped in controlling sugar and insulin resistance among individuals with diabetes.
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Help keep Cholesterol in Check
The buildup of high cholesterol in the bloodstream is a high-risk health condition.
Studies have revealed that ginger can be used to lower cholesterol levels and hence protect the body from heart-related health complications.
A study conducted on rats in Syria by the Department of Pharmacognosy at Damascus University revealed that ginger reduced bad LDL cholesterol by the same amount as other medication used to lower cholesterol in rats.
A different study carried out in India revealed that ginger decreases total cholesterol, triglycerides, and bad LDL cholesterol more significantly than a placebo.
Ginger has been around for many centuries now. It is a vital commodity both for culinary and health purposes.
The uses of ginger range back to ancient Rome, Asia and the Middle East.
Ginger was traded as a precious commodity in the early ages and it still holds its intrinsic value today.
Ginger is rich in various compounds such as paradol, shogaol, zingerone and gingerol that are very important to human health.
These compounds are of critical health support. For these reasons, ginger has been used successfully to control muscle and joint pains.
It is helpful in managing menstrual cramps among other pains. Ginger is also vital in the control of pain conditions, stomach conditions and heart conditions.
Ginger can be used as a spice to flavor various dishes and beverages.
The most common way of consumption of ginger is through ginger tea.
Ginger tea is easy to prepare and is flavored as well. You have many reasons as to why you would want to use ginger.
Whichever reason be it, make sure you take ginger in the right amounts.
As it has been stated, ginger is best taken as a food additive other than direct medication.
Avoid taking ginger pills or supplements unless you have doctors prescription. Use ginger tea and ginger within other recipes.
You do not have to be sick to start using ginger. The best time to start using ginger products is when you are healthy.
This way, you prevent chances of certain conditions occurring to you.