Ginger has long been one of my favorite medicinal foods to use, the power of ginger cannot be underestimated. Ginger has been a great value to many different cultures for thousands of years. It has been a main ingredient in many Asia dishes as well as in European bakery classics like ginger snaps or gingerbread. Medicinally ginger goes back as far as 3000BC. It was used to relieve gastric distress and as an aphrodisiac. Ginger comes from the same family as turmeric and cardamon, the Zingiberaceae family. It has a distinct peppery or spicy taste. It is widely used in many Asian, Arabic and Indian dishes.
Ginger comes in many forms:
Fresh- which is least potent, is usually peeled, sliced or grated. It can be used to make teas or fresh ginger juice.
Dried – typically has a strong taste and can last a long time. It is often used in soup stocks and curry. Powdered – has a more tangy taste and is often used in baking such as ginger snaps and bread.
Crushed – has a pungent taste and is used often in Asian dishes.
Chinese healers have been using ginger to help treat tooth aches, colds and flus, aching joints and even hangovers. Native Americans have also used wild ginger rhizome to regulate menstruation and heartbeat. In the early 20th-century physicians used it for painful menstruation. Rhizome is found in ginger and is effective as an antispasmodic for calming the digestion and expelling gas. It also contains a compound called gingerol, which is an anti-inflammatory and good for treating arthritis and rheumatism. Ongoing studies indicate that gingerol might also combat colorectal cancer.
Ginger can help with the following issues or concerns:
Digestion- morning sickness, colic, upset stomach, gas, bloating, heartburn, flatulence, diarrhea, loss of appetite, it can help improve digestion by boosting matabolism and it can help lower blood sugars.
Pain relief- due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties it helps with arthritis, muscle soreness, chest pain, low back pain, stomach pain, joint pain, menstrual pain and post workout pain.
Respiratory- upper respiratory tract infections, cough, and bronchitis.
Skin – antioxidants in ginger help preserve the skin’s collagen, helps with large facial pores and shiny complextion. It can also be used to combat acne, blemishes and improve skin structure.
Hair – due to its antiseptic properties it can help promote healthy hair by combating dandruff, hair loss and split ends
Cancer – due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, it has been studied and used to manage, prevent and treat some cancers, especially gastrointestinal cancers.
When following a recipe if you do not have fresh ginger available, dried can be used. In most recipes 1/8 of a teaspoon of ground ginger can be substituted for 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger.
If you decide to use ginger regularly in the form of a supplement or food source, know that you can take no more than 4g of dried ginger daily or 1 g during pregnancy. It is not recommended for children under 2 years of age.
Originally printed in My Kawartha May 19, 2019