(Last Updated on : 06/06/2012)
Ginger is hugely praised for its use in cookery, medicines and ayurveda and in some cases it is also used for some therapies. Ginger is cultivated in Indian states like Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka , Kerala, Meghalaya, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Orissa.
Ginger is a perennial creeping plant, with thick tuberous rhizome. It has an erect stem 30 -100 cm (1-3 ft) tall. The lance-shaped leaves are bright green, 15 - 20 cm (6-8 in) long, with a prominent longitudinal rib, enclosing conical clusters of small yellow-green flowers marked with purple speckles. The cultivation of ginger requires a tropical climate with both a heavy rain season and a hot dry season. This plant is called in different names in different Indian languages like ginger is called `Ada` in Bengali and Oriya, `Adu` in Gujarati, `Adrak` in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu, `shunti` in Kannada, `Inji` in Malayalam and Tamil, `Ale` in Marathi,`Adraka` in Sanskrit ,`Allam` in Telugu. Ginger is also known by the names African ginger, black ginger, sunthi, East Indian pepper, Jamica pepper, German ingwer, Italian zenzero jengibre, myoga, zangvil, gingembre, dinnsear, engifer, shouga, imbir, luya, gung, etc.Ginger holds the botanical name Zingiber officinale and belongs to the Zingiberaceae family. Mostly the rhizome part is used for general purposes. Indian dry ginger is found in two varieties like Cochin ginger (NUGC), and `Calicut ginger`(NUGK). In India ginger is found in various forms like oils, oleoresins, and fresh ginger in brine, pickles, candies and syrups. Ginger is also available in bleached or unbleached and in powder forms. There are many varieties of cultivated and wild ginger. Generally, the more pungent versions are more effective for therapeutic or medicinal uses, while the milder versions would suffice for culinary purposes.
Ginger is considered to be one of the most important and indispensable spices of Indian culinary practices. Apart from being a major culinary ingredient in Indian spices, the traditional Ayurvedic Medicine has been considering ginger since the ancient ages and is being recommended effective for many gastrointestinal and blood diseases. It is used for abdominal bloating, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and for the treatment of inflammatory joint diseases, such as arthritis and rheumatism. Ginger contains oily substance called gingerol as well as volatile oils. Gingerols and shogaols present in ginger are pungent chemical substances. Ginger also contains some amount of essential oils in the root, which is the reason for its fragrance. Including having such properties, ginger contains other chemical substances like sesquiterpenoids and monoterpenoid in lesser quantities.
In alternative medicine, ginger is considered to be one of the most important elements that have immense medicinal properties. The practitioners of Ayurveda, Herbal medicines and Naturopathy say that ginger clears congestion in the body and detoxifies it by promoting elimination of wastes through the skin, mainly through sweating. It is also said that ginger acts as a catalyst to improve the absorption and effectiveness of other herbs. The recent research of modern science evidences that essences of ginger are used to treat allergies, asthma, cholesterol control, colds, infections, inflammations, nausea, and parasites. Among the different types of ginger some contain the properties like anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasites, to stimulate appetite etc. Ginger is used to helps to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Ginger has certain chemical substances which reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as blood thinners, and also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It also helps to alleviate hypertension, relieves from asthma, colic, cough, colds and flu, headaches, muscle aches. Ginger increases the circulatory system and by stimulating it increases circulation. Proper consumption of ginger is one of the effective ways of improving digestion and nourishing and strengthening the gastrointestinal functions, improving digestive system as a whole. It also provides relief in indigestion and upset stomach, increases energy and vitality, helps to alleviate flatulence and abdominal bloating and gas, high fever and helps to provide relief in food poisoning. Ginger tea is said to help in reducing weight according to the herbal medicines.
The practitioners of ayurvedic medicines as well as herbal therapy and Naturopathy consider that in the treatments of sore throats, gall stones. Infact ginger root tea is effective in treating Sinus problems, Headaches and Toothaches, Menstrual Cramps. Having anti bacterial properties ginger is used in treating gastritis and infections caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori and ulcers. Ginger provides protection to the digestive system by increasing the pH of gastric acids and decreasing the level of acidity in the stomach. This in turn reduces the amount and rate of gastric secretion and increases the activity of digestive enzymes, thus helping digestion. The most popular and effective treatment of ginger is the treatment of Motion Sickness or Nausea. It has also been found to be very effective in treating pregnancy induced nausea or morning sickness. Some health benefits of ginger can also be reaped externally. Ginger is used to treat abdominal cramps, joint stiffness, skin burns and inflammations and toothaches. Ginger compresses are also used topically to treat gout, headaches, muscular stiffness and aches, sinus congestion, spinal pain, stomach cramps and swollen glands. Essential oil produced from ginger can also be used externally to alleviate rheumatism. In Japan, massages using ginger oil are a traditional treatment for joint and spinal problems. Moreover, warm ginger footbath is said to be able to invigorate the entire body. In treating some fungal infections like athletes foot, ginger works well. It also works as natural breath freshener for bad breath.
Fresh ginger is essential to India cookery. It is used in pickles, chutneys and curry pastes and the ground dried root is a constituent of many curry powders. Tender young ginger can be sliced and eaten in salad. Sometimes green sprouts from the ginger roots are finely chopped and added to a green salad. In the West, dried ginger is mainly used in cakes and biscuits especially ginger snaps and gingerbread. Ginger is also used in puddings, jams, preserves and in some drinks like ginger beer, ginger wine and tea. Not only in India, is ginger used in the foreign countries to add a spicy flavour. In India ginger is mostly used by the people of West Bengal, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and some other states to prepare spicy delicacies. Preserved ginger is eaten as a confection, chopped up for cakes and puddings, and is sometimes used as an ice cream ingredient.
Ginger, the Indian spice is not only reckoned as having culinary uses, it is also considered as having immense properties related to cure diseases according to the alternative medicines. The composition of ginger entails that it has a healthy balance of Carbohydrates, Fat, Protein, Vitamin, Calcium and minerals.
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
|Energy- 20 kcal
||Folate (Vit. B9)- 11 mg
|Carbohydrates - 17.77g
||Vitamin C- 5 mg
|Fat - 0.75 g
||Calcium- 16 mg
|Protein - 1.82 g
||Iron - 0.6 mg
|Thiamine (Vit. B1) - 0.025 mg
||Magnesium - 43 mg
|Riboflavin (Vit. B2) - 0.034 mg
||Phosphorus - 34 mg
|Niacin (Vit. B3) - 0.75 mg
||Potassium - 415 mg
|Pantothenic acid (B5) - 0.203 mg
||Zinc - 0.34 mg
|Vitamin B6 - 0.16 mg