I have been using Ginger in Masala Chai since childhood. I have been drinking Chai for its soothing taste and aroma. I used to drink specially when going on long drives in hilly mountains to avoid vomiting. My Granny used to make the Chai at our home. She knew the medicinal and curative properties of herbs, spices and roots. I did not know the magical properties of these ingredients until few years ago. I thought it will be interesting to talk about the magical properties of Ginger. Ginger is available worldwide in grocery stores in root form. It can be used in making Ginger bread, Ginger cookies, Chai, Ginger flavored drinks and other dishes.
Ginger root is used extensively as a spice in many if not most cuisines of the world. Though called a root, it is actually the rhizome of the monocotyledonous perennial plant Zingiber officinale. Ginger contains upt to 3% of an essential oil which causes the fragrance of the spice. The main constituents are sesquiterpenoids with zingiberene as the main component. Lesser amounts of other sesquiterpenoids (Î²-sesquiphellandrene, bisabolene and farnesene) and a small monoterpenoid fraction (Î²-phelladrene, cineol, and citral) have also been identified. Young ginger roots 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. 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 Chinese cuisine to cover up other strong odors and flavors such as in seafood and mutton.
In Japan, ginger is pickled to make beni shoga and gari or grated and used raw on tofu or noodles. In Western cuisine, ginger is traditionally restricted to sweet foods, such as ginger ale, gingerbread, ginger snaps (a type of cookie), ginger cake and ginger biscuits.
Medical research has shown that ginger root is an effective treatment for nausea caused by motion sickness or other illness. Although very effective against all forms of nausea, PDR health officials do not recommend taking ginger root for morning sickness commonly associated with pregnancy. Ginger root also contains many antioxidants. Powdered dried ginger root is made into pills for medicinal use. Chinese women traditionally eat ginger root during pregnancy to combat morning sickness. 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.
I have listed some of the references on medicinal research on Ginger in following paragraph:
Ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) has various beneficial effects. It reduces lipids, atherosclerotic lesions and lipid peroxide, and increases glutathione peroxidase. These findings indicate that it would be beneficial in preventing and treating heart disease. It has anticancer properties  and anti-inflammatory effects. It is antifungal, antiemetic, and anxiolytic. Ginger protects cells from beta-amyloid injury, which indicates it may protect against Alzheimerâ€™s disease.,
1. Liu N, Huo G, Zhang L, Zhang X. Effect of Zingiber officinale Rosc on lipid peroxidation in hyperlipidemia rats. [in Chinese]. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu 2003;32:22â€“23.
2. Surh Y. Molecular mechanisms of chemopreventive effects of selected dietary and medicinal phenolic substances. Mutat Res 1999;428:305â€“327.
3. Penna SC, Medeiros MV, Aimbire FSC, et al. Anti-inflammatory effect of the hydralcoholic extract of Zingiber officinale rhizomes on rat paw and skin edema. Phytomedicine 2003;10:381â€“385.
4. Ficker CE, Arnason JT, Vindas PS, et al. Inhibition of human pathogenic fungi by ethnobotanically selected plant extracts. Mycoses 2003;46:29â€“37.
5. Vishwakarma SL, Pal SC, Kasture VS, Kasture SB. Anxiolytic and antiemetic activity of Zingiber officinale. Phytother Res 2002;16:621â€“626.
6. Kim DSHL, Kim J-Y, Han YS. Alzheimerâ€™s disease drug discovery from herbs: Neuroprotectivity from beta -amyloid(1-42) insult. J Altern Complement Med 2007;13:333â€“340.
7. Kim DSHL, Kim D-S, Oppel MN. Shogaols from Zingiber officinale protect IMR32 human neuroblastoma and normal human umbilical vein endothelial cells from beta-amyloid(25-35) insult. Planta Med 2002;68:375â€“376.
Links are from medical journals and do not represent the suggestions or advise of Indus Organics. Please consult your natural health practitioner for usage. It is not advisable to discontinue your current medication and start natural herbs without consulting your doctor.
Author wish to thank Prof. Hari Sharma, MD, DABP, FCAP, FRCPC, DABHM
The Ohio State University Center for Integrative Medicine; College of Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. for providing the article THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE Volume 13, Number 9, 2007, pp. 1011â€“1019 Â© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2007.7017-A that forms the basis of this blog.