Ginger (zingiber officinale) has been used worldwide in many cultures for digestion, circulation and inflammation problems. It grows in every moist tropical climate on our planet Earth. The fresh or dried roots – more accurately its rhizomes have been used as both flavoring and medicines in many cultures and over many ages across our Earth. The tangy-tasting herb with a long safety record possesses a host of medicinal properties as well as a great flavor. It has been used for centuries around the world to improve blood circulation, ease digestion and reduce inflammation in many parts of the body. Asian cultures have used ginger, for more than 2,000 years, Europe’s herbal medicine practitioners have known and used it for over 1,000 years. Indigenes of South America and the Caribbean Islands have adopted it in their remedies after its introduction to America by Francisco de Mendoca in the mid 1500s. Centuries of traditional use of ginger in Africa confirm its worldwide use in aiding digestion, reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as in treating respiratory problems such as coughs, bronchitis as well as gout, rheumatism, etc.
GINGER’S USE IN CHINA
Experimental data and research by Chinese scientists verifies ginger’s dried roots ability to strengthen the stomach while acting also as an intestinal stimulant. The dried roots have also been shown to inhibit vomiting. Studies with fresh ginger root show that for the first few hours, ginger tea reduces gastric secretions, and then later stimulates them for a longer period. This highlights the herb’s capacity to adapt and respond to gastric conditions.
Laboratory experiments have also shown that ginger has analgesic and anti – inflammatory properties. In modern China, ginger is one of the most widely consumed herbs and is used in more than half of all Chinese herbal prescriptions. An essential ingredient in almost any Chinese meal, Traditional Chinese Medicine considers fresh and dried ginger as possessing two distinct qualities. Both fresh and dried ginger rhizomes as well as a liquid extract and tinctures are listed in the Pharmacopoeia of the Peoples’ Republic of China. Ginger is used in dozens of traditional Chinese prescription as a “guide drug” to counter balance the effects of other potentially toxic ingredients. The dried root known as Gan–jiang, mentioned in the earliest Chinese Herbals is used to treat depleted yang energy, to alleviate cold conditions, counteract ‘cold pain’ of the stomach and abdomen, is also useful for diarrhea, cough and rheumatism etc. The fresh root and is also used to cleanse the body of disease – causing organisms by inducing sweating. Fresh ginger, called Sheng–jiang first mentioned in Ming-yi-bie (miscellaneous records of famous Chinese physicians published around 500AD) is recognized and used to expel ‘cold’, relieve nausea and clear away toxic matter by increasing circulation.
GINGER’S USE IN INDIA
Ginger is one of the most important spices in Indian cuisine; it is used in the preparation of condiments, curries, pickles and syrups. Ayurveda, the ancient traditional medicine of India call ginger aradrakah and is a popular home remedy in India today as it was 2000 years ago. In Hindu medicine ginger is used to expel gas from the digestive system, as a rubefacient (a substance that irritates the skin causing redness and increasing blood flow to the area). Both fresh and dried ginger roots are used to relieve pain and inflammation, to stimulate appetite, as an aphrodisiac and a digestive cordial (taken after a meal). Ginger is used also to help clean the throat and tongue and to cure nausea, cough, fever and other common throat and tongue ailments. The fresh root is used extensively in Ayurveda for the treatment of rheumatism and inflammation of the liver.
FOLK MEDICINE USE OF GINGER IN INDIA
The juice of the fresh rhizomes mixed with a little honey and sometimes with garlic juice is a favorite folk remedy for coughs and asthma. Lime juice added to ginger juice is used to treat dyspepsia. A poultice of dried powdered ginger mixed with warm water was pasted to the forehead to treat headaches. Even one Indian Government Health Guide recommends taking two tea-spoons of ginger juice with honey as a cough elixir.
GINGER USE IN JAPAN
Ginger was introduced to Japan from China in the 8th century and traditional uses are similar to those in China. The Japanese also differentiate between the different forms of ginger. The plant ginger is called shoga, the dried root shokyo, the steamed and dried root kanyo, and the root that is dried under fire kinkyo. All have somewhat different flavors and used for slightly different purposes, but for the most part the forms are used as in other Asian cultures: as a stomachic and to stimulate appetite. Studies by Japanese researchers also indicate that ginger has a tonic effect on the heart and may lower blood pressure by restricting blood flow in peripheral areas of the body. Further studies reveal that ginger can lower cholesterol levels by reducing ‘bad cholesterol’ absorption in the blood and liver.
GINGER USE IN THE WEST
In the West and especially on the West African coast, modern herbalists also use ginger to improve circulation, treat stomach upsets and ease symptoms of motion sickness or nausea. It is thought to reduce nausea by increasing digestive fluids and absorbing and neutralizing toxins and stomach acid. Ginger increases bile secretion and tones the bowel, according to experienced herbalists. Some West African herbal practitioners confirm that ginger is good for abdominal pains, stimulates the production of saliva and they say it is also useful for many throat, cough, and lung problems as well as most useful for indigestion. Some even will combine ginger with other herbs to allay menstrual pains and related ailments.
The first-century Greek physician Dioscorides, who served as a physician in the Roman army used ginger for digestive problems and as an antidote to poisons. Another Greek physician, Glen used ginger for paralysis and for all disease arising from ‘cold humors’ such as neuralgia and gout. Ancient Arabic physicians used ginger for similar purposes but also emphasized ginger’s aphrodisiac properties. Later in the 19th century and early 20th century, ginger was most widely used in England to manufacture ginger beer and ginger ale. Today, quality ginger ale products are sold widely in natural health food stores in the UK. Whether as fresh or dried root, as tea or juice, ginger remains one of the most effective multicultural remedy for digestion, circulation and inflammatory disorders, whilst having still a terrific taste!
GINGER AND ITS MANY USES ACROSS THE WORLD
Across the globe and for many centuries ginger has been used for a variety of related ailments. Many of its uses have been supported by at least one scientific study. The forms of ginger employed can be dried fresh root, as tea, juice extracts, tinctures, and poultice from its powder.
FOR THE DIGESTIVE TRACT
• Appetite & Intestinal stimulant
• Controls gastric secretion
• Gentle laxative
• Nausea & vomiting
• Lowers cholesterol
• Morning sickness
• And many other digestive disorders
FOR THE CARDIO-VASCULAR
• High blood pressure
• Inflammation of the liver
• Pain reliever
• General inflammation
• Cough and Asthma
• Weight Reduction