Ginger aka zingiber officinale, has a very long medicinal and culinary use. It is a spicy herb, a flowering plant but we use the roots. It belongs to the Zingiberales family which has 56 genera and about 1300 species. It is related to other herbs like turmeric and cardamon and it is used in culinary recipes, in teas, in soda (ginger ale — used to be made with ginger), and in medicinal forms like tinctures.
Considering it originates in southeast Asia, it is not surprising it is well used in their culinary dishes. It can be used fresh, dried, powdered, oil or as a juice. It is used with chicken, soups/broths, salad, sweets/deserts, marinades/rubs, salsa/chutneys, and dressings/vinaigrettes. It can be minced, chopped, sliced or grated.
It can be used alone, or with a number of other spices including cilantro and turmeric.
I love it mixed with pineapple in a number of Thai dishes.
Ayurveda medicine tells us the different processes of ginger have different uses. Western herbal medicine doesn’t distinguish.
But ginger has many medicinal benefits:
- Improving digestion — the gingerol compounds can cut down on the fermentation processes, constipation and other causes of bloating and gas.
- The gingerols are also anti oxidants and help in a variety of ways to reduce the wear and tear on cells.
- Reducing nausea, vomiting, and morning sickness — although it shouldn’t be used close to delivery times
- Reducing inflammation
- Reducing menstrual pain
- Reducing muscle pain and soreness
- Can help with osteoporosis — reduces pain and inflammation.
- Lowering blood sugar levels — significantly reduces fasting blood sugars in type 2 diabetes
- Reducing cholesterol levels
- Reducing the risk of cancer
- Improving brain function — reducing oxidative stress and inflammation
- Reducing the risk of infections — it is an antimicrobial, i.e., staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, Candida albicans
So don’t forget to look for ginger root in the fresh vegetable isle.