Plump and chockfull of goodness, the root of the ginger plant has amazing therapeutic properties that have made it a valuable medicine as well as an aid to good health. This exotic spice flourishes in warm and sunny places like Kerala, a tropical paradise in South India. Ayurveda, the 5000 year old system of holistic healing, gives Ginger pride of place in its treatment protocols, formulations and home remedies. Historically, ginger has been used as a digestive aid, a stimulant for circulation, fever reducer, pain reliever and remedy for common cold. The few situations in which ginger is contra-indicated are in cases of hyperacidity, during any form of hemorrhage, vertigo and chronic skin disease.
Other than in these conditions, Ginger’s warming and stimulating properties can work wonders for many common health problems. Ginger stimulates circulation, and enhances the blood flow throughout the body. It is a wonderful warming aid to digestion for it sharpens the appetite and enhances the absorption of nutrients, by encouraging secretion of digestive enzymes. Ginger also helps to move stagnation of undigested food and subsequent accumulation of toxins that can have a far reaching effect on our general state of health, our immunity and vitality. Not only does ginger stoke the digestive fire and whet the appetite, it improves assimilation and transportation of nutrients to targeted body tissues. There is an Ayurvedic sutra or verse that says that everyone should eat fresh ginger just before lunch and dinner to enhance digestion.
In Ayurveda, a distinction is made between fresh ginger root and dried ginger root. It is said that they have different action and effect inside the body when consumed. For example, in conditions like nausea and digestive disorders, fresh ginger is suggested. The antiemetic activity of ginger is believed to be due to the pungent compound shogaol. It is very effective for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, and for motion sickness. It decrease nausea associated with radiation and chemotherapy too. The pungent compound gingerol has been shown to stimulate gastric secretions and peristalsis. On the other hand, dry ginger is suggested for conditions like chronic respiratory illnesses and neurological disorders. Ginger acts as as anticoagulant that inhibits platelet aggregation and Ginger root contains large amounts of a volatile oil, zingiberene, which gives the spice its anti inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Here are some home remedies with ginger that you can try. For cramps pour 1cup freshly boiled water over 1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped ginger root. Cover, steep the mixture for 10 minutes and then strain. Drink one cup 3 or 4 times a day or after meals. For joint pains, mix 3 drops essential oil of ginger root and 1 teaspoon of almond oil. Rub on inflamed or painful joints and cover with a dry cloth to hold in the heat. A teaspoon of fresh ginger juice mixed in a cup of fenugreek tea made with 1 tablespoon of fenugreek seeds and honey to taste, acts as an excellent expectorant in cases of asthma. Half a teaspoon of ginger juice, taken with one half boiled egg and honey, daily night for a month, will prove beneficial in case of impotence and premature ejaculation. This home remedy is also believed to improve sperm count. For migraine, have two tablespoon of dry ginger powder with warm water before the pain intensifies, and for sinus congestion take 1 teaspoon fresh ginger juice with 1 teaspoon honey 2-3 times a day. These home remedies can be extremely helpful, but if the problem persists, you should consult a good vaidya or Ayurvedic physician who can give you more personalized treatment.
Modern research into the medicinal benefits of ginger has upheld the teachings of Ayurveda- that ginger thins the blood and inhibits clotting, lowers harmful cholesterol levels and reduces blood pressure. Today herbalists use ginger in many forms including tea, essential oils, compresses, bath products and creams- but there is still nothing to beat a slice of fresh raw ginger for effectiveness. Ginger’s pungent taste and fresh smell have also made it one of the most popular culinary spices all over the world. A dash of ginger truly ‘gingers’ up an ordinary dish and transforms it into a gourmet delight!