Botanical Name :Zingiber officinale
Species: Z. officinale
Common Name :Ginger
Ginger: When fresh it is called “ardraka”, and in the dried form it is referred to as “shunthi”
Habitat : Ginger is a herb that is indigenous to the South West coast of India. It is also known in the East as a hot or yang herb, and has a long history of traditional usage spanning back over 2,500 years.The characteristic aromatic smell of ginger is familiar to many of us, and its use as a spice in cookery is very well known.
Zingiber officinale is usually about four feet tall, with long, narrow leaves that measure around seven inches long. When the plant flowers, it produces small yellow-green flowers. The word “zingiber” is a distant relative of the Sanskrit word “shringavera,” which means “shaped like a deer’s antlers” (referring to the shape of the plant’s leaves)..
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Ginger used for cooking and medicinal purposes is not the outer part of the ginger plant, but the root. Ginger root is light beige in color and looks a bit like a hand, with many small extensions from a larger main body. Ginger root should be firm and have no growths on the exterior.
Gari (ginger)Ginger produces a hot, fragrant kitchen spice. Young ginger rhizomes are juicy and fleshy with a very mild taste. They are often pickled in vinegar or sherry as a snack or just cooked as an ingredient in many dishes. They can also be steeped in boiling water to make ginger tea, to which honey is often added; sliced orange or lemon fruit may also be added. Ginger can also be made into candy.
Mature ginger roots are fibrous and nearly dry. The juice from old ginger roots is extremely potent and is often used as a spice in Indian recipes, and is a quintessential ingredient of Chinese, Korean, Japanese and many South Asian cuisines for flavoring dishes such as seafood or goat meat and vegetarian cuisine.
Ginger acts as a useful food preservative.
Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger at a ratio of 6 to 1, although the flavors of fresh and dried ginger are somewhat different. Powdered dry ginger root is typically used as a flavoring for recipes such as gingerbread, cookies, crackers and cakes, ginger ale, and ginger beer.
Candied ginger is the root cooked in sugar until soft, and is a type of confectionery.
Fresh ginger may be peeled before eating. For longer-term storage, the ginger can be placed in a plastic bag and refrigerated or frozen.
Culinary Use: The essential oil is used in commercial flavourings. Fresh root ginger is extremely popular in a huge variety of stir-fry or curry dishes. Authentically, fresh root India and oriental countries. It is incorporated by different techniques slices may be added to marinades or in cooking, to be discarded on the side of the plate or bowl as the food is eaten. Grated, chopped or crushed ginger is used in pastes or braised dishes. Finely shredded ginger is added to fried and stir-fried dishes, or it may be used raw in salads. Pickled and preserved types are served as appetizers or used in savoury cooking.
All these methods are employed to flavour fish and seafood, poultry, meat, vegetable and noodle dishes. Ginger is also widely appreciated in new cooking styles, for example with chicken and game in casseroles.
Ginger is all essential in much western baking, for example in traditional gingerbreads, cakes, biscuits (such as ginger snaps), French pain d’ epice and German Pfefferkuchen. The spice is also important in chutneys, pickles, jams and sweet preserves as well as drinks, such as ginger beer, ginger ale and ginger wine.
Most of Bengali Indian cooking giger paste and onion paste is always added to give a good taste and flavour in curry.Drink a cup of hot tea with ginger in it ……. is good for cold.
Aroma and Flavour: The aroma when you cut into a piece of fresh root ginger has a hint of lemon, with a refreshing sharpness. Jamaica ginger is said to have the finest aroma, with the Kenyan spice being of good quality too. Other African and Indian gingers have a darker skin and a biting, less pleasant flavour.
The Benefits of Ginger
Ayurveda considers it to be one of the best herbs which nullify the toxins produced in the body due to improper digestion. Fresh ginger is useful in alleviating cold and cough whereas the dried one has more anti-“vata” effect. Due to its “pitta” aggravating properties, excessive use of ginger is contra-indicated in conditions involving hyperacidity, ulcers and gall stones.
Nausea – it is often used to ease nausea caused by travelling or pregnancy as well as that due to other causes.
Digestion – it has the ability to calm the stomach, promote the flow of bile, and improve the appetite.
Stomach Cramps caused by wind – it can relieve these, often quicker than any other herbal medicine.
Circulation – it helps to support a healthy cardiovascular system by making platelets less sticky and therefore reducing he likelihood of aggregation (a major factor in atherosclerosis) Much recent work has focused on the use of ginger in circulatory disorders such as Raynauds disease, which is characterised by blue fingers and toes. Ginger appears to promote blood flow to these areas, which eases the problem.
Rheumatoid arthritis – it has traditionally been used to help inflammatory joint diseases such as arthritis. It is also valued for its analgesic action, which may help arthritic conditions.
Cholesterol – studies have suggested that ginger may be useful in keeping cholesterol levels under control, although how this works is not yet understood.
Respiratory infections – it is well known for its warming expectorant action on the upper respiratory tract, and this is why Chinese herbalists have traditionally used ginger to treat colds and influenza.
For more than 5,000 years Ginger has been used for the relief of the occasional upset stomach. Ginger, a warming energizer, is traditionally known to support the digestive and immune systems. In ancient Sanskrit, Ginger was called Vishwabhesaj, which means the universal medicine. Ayurvedic practitioners use Ginger to activate Agni, the body’s fire element. Agni burns up Ama, naturally occurring toxins and undigested food in the body. When you decrease Ama, the body gains strength, balance and harmony.
Medicinal and Other Use: Henry VIII is said to have used ginger as a medicine for its qualities, as outlined by Culpeper, the herbalist, 150 years later: Ginger helps digestion, warms the stomach, clear the sight, and is profitable for old men; it heats the joints and is therefore useful against gout’. Ginger has an impressive record in treating all kinds of ailments: it is said to help poor circulation, and to cure flatulence and indigestion; it is taken as a drink for coughs, nausea and influenza. In the East ginger is chewed to ward off evil spirits. it is considered to be a cure for travel sickness. The essential oil is used in perfumery.
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One medical research study had results indicating that ginger might be an effective treatment for nausea caused by motion sickness or other illness, The study however, failed to show a significant difference between ginger and a placebo. There are several proposed mechanisms of action for the anti-emetic properties of ginger but there is not yet conclusive support for any particular model.
Modern research on nausea and motion sickness used approximately 1 gram of ginger powder daily. Though there are claims for efficacy in all causes of nausea, the PDR recommends against taking ginger root for morning sickness commonly associated with pregnancy due to possible mutagenic effects. Nevertheless, Chinese women traditionally have taken ginger root during pregnancy to combat morning sickness. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (compiled by health professionals and pharmacists), states that ginger is likely safe for use in pregnancy when used orally in amounts found in foods. Ginger ale and ginger beer have been recommended as “stomach settlers” for generations in countries where the beverages are made. Ginger water was commonly used to avoid heat cramps in the United States in the past.
In Western-hemisphere nations, powdered dried ginger root is made into capsules and sold in pharmacies for medicinal use. In the US, ginger is not approved by the FDA for the treatment or cure of any disease. Ginger is instead sold as an unregulated dietary supplement. In India, ginger is applied as a paste to the temples to relieve headache. In Myanmar, ginger and local sweet (Htan nyat) which is made from palm tree juice are boiled together and taken to prevent the Flu. A hot ginger drink (made with sliced ginger cooked in sweetened water or a Coca-Cola-like drink) has been reported as a folk medicine for common cold.
Ginger has also historically been used in folk medicine to treat inflammation, although medical studies as to the efficacy of ginger in decreasing inflammation have shown mixed results. There are several studies that demonstrate a decrease in joint pain from arthritis after taking ginger, though the results have not been consistent from study to study. It may also have blood thinning and cholesterol lowering properties, making it theoretically effective in treating heart disease; while early studies have shown some efficacy, it is too early to determine whether further research will bear this out.
The medical form of ginger historically was called “Jamaica ginger”; it was classified as a stimulant and carminative, being much used for dyspepsia and colic. It was also frequently employed to disguise the taste of nauseous medicines. The tea brewed from this root was an old-fashioned remedy for colds.
The characteristic odor and flavor of ginger root is caused by a mixture of zingerone, shoagoles and gingerols, volatile oils that compose about 1%â€“3% by weight of fresh ginger. The gingerols have analgesic, sedative, antipyretic, antibacterial, and GI tract motility effects.
Ginger is on the GRAS list from FDA. However, like other herbs, ginger may be harmful because it may interact with other medications, such as warfarin; hence, a physician or pharmacist should be consulted before taking the herb. Ginger is also contraindicated in people suffering from gallstones, because the herb promotes the release of bile from the gallbladder.
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Pungent oleoresins – these have been identified as the phenylalkylketones, known as gingerols, shogaols and zingerone. The dried root of ginger has been shown to be more potent than the fresh root with regard to shogaol, which is thought to be the most potent of the constituents of ginger.
Anyone with a history of gallstones should consult a medical practitioner prior to use. Short-term use of low levels during the first three months of pregnancy appears to have no adverse side effects. Anyone using anticoagulants should not use ginger.
Some people are allergic to ginger. Generally, this is reported as having a gaseous component. This may take the form of flatulence, or it may take the form of an extreme constriction or tightening in the throat necessitating uncontrollable burping to relieve the pressure .
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Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider
Resources: (Extracted from: http://www.healthreaction.com/web/articles/ginger.htm and http://www.good-earth.com/yogi-tea—ginger-tea.html and http://www.hotel-club-thailand.com/thai-cooking/thai-spices.htm), http://www.ehow.com/facts_5541828_description-ginger-plant.html