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Revision as of 17:40, 10 March 2011


Ginger

Ginger is the bulbous root from the plant Zingiber Officinale, ingested wholly as a delicacy, spice or medicinally. Cultivation of Ginger started in South Asia and has since taken root in Eastern Africa and the Caribbean. It is commonly referred to as root Ginger, so as to distinguish it from other plants that appear to be ginger.

One of the most characteristic features of ginger is the odor and strong flavor that is the result of zingerone, shogaols and gingerols. These volatile oils comprise 1 to 3 percent of the mass of freshly harvested ginger. In clinical tests on animals, gingerrols were found to increase movement of the gastrointestinal tract and to have antipyretic, sedative, analgesic and antibacterial properties. Ginger oil was also studied and found to help prevent skin cancer in laboratory mice subjects. A University of Michigan study found that gingerols can eliminate ovarian cancer cells.

The invigorating flavor of ginger is from non-volatile phenylpropanoid - resulting from ginger that is dried or cooked. Zingerone is also created from this process; this results in a less bitter taste and has a spicy-sweet aroma. Ginger has a sialagogue result that stimulates saliva production and makes swallowing easier.

Young ginger roots are very juicy and have a fleshy texture with a very mild flavor. These are most commonly pickled with vinegar or sherry for a snack or are added to dishes for a mild flavor. In teas, the root is steeped in boiling water with honey. Other popular additions are a slice of orange or lemon. Another popular treat is to make ginger candy by baking it in hefty amounts of sugar.

Older ginger roots are nearly dry and very fibrous. When squeezed, older roots produce a very potent juice which is used in East Indian, Chinese, Japanese and many South Asian cuisines.

Contraindications

Ginger appears on the FDA’s list of “generally recognized as safe”, but can interact with certain medications such as Warfarin, an anticoagulant. If you suffer from gallstones do not consume ginger as it naturally promotes bile production. Over use of ginger causes a condition commonly referred to as “ginger jitters”. The body’s central nervous system becomes over-stimulated or intoxicated and causes spontaneous movements or pain. This is the result of an individual’s ginger tolerance but usually around two thousand milligrams per kilogram of body mass. Another mild reaction to ginger is a slight skin reaction or rash, heartburn, gas, bloating, nausea and belching but this is mainly from consuming ginger in dry granular forms.

Medicinal Uses

Medicinal uses for ginger range from nausea control to potential diabetic treatments. Historically it was touted as a stimulant and a carminative, used for dyspepsia, gastroparesis and slow motility, constipation and colic. Frequently it was utilized to mask strong tasting medicines. Arthritis sufferers also claim joint pain relief due to ginger. Ginger also naturally thins the blood and lowers cholesterol.

Other uses for ginger include:

• Diarrhea: natural combatant of E-coli

• Nausea: Ginger is a natural remedy for seasickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy

• Anxiety: Ginger reduces levels of anxiety

• Diabetes: Has been shown to reduce diabetic cataracts and could be used for prevention or delay of diabetic related complications


Folk medicine suggests using ginger for the treatment of:

• Colds: A strongly brewed tea will help treat a cold

• Coughing: Chinese treatment for coughing is “ginger eggs” - scrambled eggs with finely minced ginger root. Another popular cough suppressant is a dried ginger confection using fermented plum juice and sugar

• Nausea: Ginger-ale or Ginger-beer settles stomach and digestive issues

• Cramps: Ginger water is consumed to avoid heat-related cramps

• Inflammation: Arthritis treatment

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