What is Ginger? 

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a perennial herbaceous plant with pungent underground stems called rhizomes.

Family: Zingiberaceae

Ginger is an ancient sterile cultigen which is no longer found growing wild. It is propagated by division in late spring.

Alternate names: common ginger, canton ginger, stem ginger

The edible parts of the ginger plant are the rhizomes and the above-ground stems when they are young and tender. 

Ginger Spices

Ginger derives its spiciness (or pungency) from the principle compounds gingerolshogaol and zingerone. Gingerol is the active component in fresh ginger. Zingerone, which is the least pungent, occurs when gingerol is transformed by cooking. Shogaol, which is the most pungent, occurs when gingerol is dried. Shogaol is twice as pungent as gingerol. Gingerol is related to Capsaicin, which is the active component of chilli peppers.

What are the health benefits of ginger?

Ginger is a natural herb that is used across the globe as a spice. Due to the various health benefits of ginger, this herb also is considered a virtual medicine chest. Various studies have proven that ginger is highly effective for treating a number of health problems. Ginger has anti-nausea, anti-spasmodic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral and antitussive (cough suppressant) properties that can do wonders for your health. Also, ginger is a good source of vitamins A, C, E, and B-complex, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, sodium, iron, zinc, calcium and beta-carotene. To enjoy the medicinal benefits of ginger, you can use it in fresh, dried, powdered, juice or oil form.

Settles an upset stomach

The carminative properties present in ginger can be used to calm an upset stomach. It also helps relax the gastrointestinal muscles, hence preventing gas and bloating. Also, health experts often recommend ginger to treat stomach ailments such as dyspepsia or colic. It is also frequently used in the treatment of bacteria-induced diarrhoea. To improve digestion, try to eat ginger after any large meal. Ginger can also help alleviate the various symptoms of food poisoning.

Prevents Cold And Flu

Ginger boosts the immune system so it is used as a natural treatment for colds and flu. Moreover, ginger contains antiviral, antitoxic and antifungal properties. By inducing sweating and expelling heat, it also relieves mild fever. Consume ginger several times a day when suffering from a cold or the flu. It will help detoxify your body in a natural manner, which will make you feel better and speed up the healing process. You can also boil one teaspoon of ginger powder or two teaspoons of freshly grated ginger in two cups of water and inhale the steam to alleviate congestion and other symptoms associated with common colds.

Reduces Arthritis Pain

Ginger has strong anti-inflammatory properties that can help treat the pain associated with gout, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Ginger is fast becoming noted for its ability to reduce joint inflammation, and the pain associated with arthritis. It does this by lowering levels of certain tissue hormones called prostaglandins that can induce pain and inflammation.

Suppresses Coughs

Ginger is a natural analgesic and painkiller, hence it can be used to soothe the pain and irritation of a sore throat. It can also help reduce coughing, especially when caused by the common cold. The pungent warming action of ginger helps eliminate mucus from the lungs that may be causing the cough. You can chew some fresh ginger root or drink ginger juice or tea to suppress a cough. You can also massage the chest and back with ginger oil to help relieve and treat a cough.

Promotes Heart Health

Ginger has long been used for promoting a healthy heart. It lowers cholesterol level, regulates blood pressure, and helps prevent blood from clotting, which in turn helps reduce the risk of various heart diseases. High in potassium, ginger is great for heart health and the good amount of manganese present in ginger helps protect the heart, blood vessels and urinary passages.  So, include this herb in your regular diet to maintain good cardiovascular health.

Promotes Weight Loss

Ginger might even help those looking to shed a few excess pounds! It appears to temporarily increase thermogenesis in the body. Thermogenesis is the metabolic process whereby the body burns stored fat to create heat. Ginger therefore has a positive “boosting” effect on the metabolic rate, increasing fat burning.

Helps Treat Blood Sugar Imbalances

As for those with blood sugar imbalances and disorders such as diabetes, ginger appears to be very effective, both preventively and therapeutically. It has positive effects on insulin release and insulin action, improving both carbohydrate and fat metabolism.

Great Healing Properties

Ginger has some very powerful healing properties. This amazing spice has been found to possess broad-spectrum anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger also contains many types of powerful antioxidants, including gingerols, shogaols, and zingerones. Ginger is known for its characteristic “heat”. This, along with its unique flavour is down to the presence of volatile oils. These plant oils, the “gingerols” have analgesic, sedative, and antibacterial properties, as well as exerting positive effects on gastrointestinal tract “movement” or motility.

Helps with Digestive Problems

Long used in herbal medicine as a good “digestive”, it is both a practical and very effective antidote to indigestion, bloating, stomach pain and nausea. Chewing a little fresh ginger 30 minutes prior to a meal can boost digestive capacity, as well as quell feelings of nausea, and motion sickness. Ginger raises the “digestive fire”, and boosts our ability to digest food. 

Helps Prevent Cancer

The cancer-preventative effects of ginger are being well-documented too. Scientists have found that ginger possesses the biological potential to stop the growth of cancer cells, particularly colon cancer cells.