We will bring to light the medicinal benefits of various ingredients– straight from the kitchen! Good health and eating right have always been interlinked and stressed upon in most of our houses. In addition to the nutrition that we gain from what we eat, most of these products that are hidden in our kitchen are found to contain great medicinal and healing powers- of which we have been ignorant for many years. Especially- the herbs and spices that our grandmothers fed us with regularly- have now gained paramount importance among nutritionists and dieticians. The western countries are stressing the importance of these foods- which have silently been hidden in our backyards for centuries together. Unearthing one such regular ingredient- found in all of our houses is Ginger.
Etymology and History
The etymology of the word ‘ginger’ makes for an interesting read. Medieval Latin called it gingiber. In Greek it was called- zingiberis. In Sanskrit- it was called shrungaver. In Tamil it was known as Ingiver. The common factor among all these names being the reference to the root (Ver/Ber). Now to the scientific background- ginger is a rhizome of the plant- Zingiber Officinale– which belongs to the family Zingiberaceae.
The history of using ginger in food preparation dates back to Roman Empire in European folklore around 5th century BC. And on tracing back the origin of its presence in Europe- there are clear records showing exports of ginger from India to Europe.
Another compelling reference is made in the Hindu epic- Mahabharatha- roughly around 4th century BC- where it is described as one of the ingredients (along with other spices) to cook meat! And since then Ginger has been a mainstay with regard to Asian- South Asian- in particular- cuisines.
Historically, ginger has a long tradition of being very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative (a substance that promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance that relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract).
Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.
Pic courtesy: foxnews.com
The medical benefits of Ginger have been known widespread and are famous among most of our grandmother’s kitchen secrets! Records show that motion sickness- has been reduced by the consumption of ginger- in its powdered form. It helps to curb nausea and vomiting. And again- its effect in reducing nausea and vomiting finds it a place as a cure for pregnancy-related gastro-disorders. Studies from American Cancer Society indicate vomiting caused during chemotherapy can be curbed by taking ginger. But again- ginger can act otherwise- and interfere with blood clotting causing adverse effects.
Also read: Have your milk the right way
Another common day-to-day use of ginger that we all have experienced- is the use of ginger in treating throat infection. A piping hot ginger tea usually works wonders with the throat! Reports suggest that ginger has effective use in curbing menstrual cramps, arthritis and muscle pain as well.
But all these said- people undergoing treatments for any particular ailments- should consult with their doctors before consuming ginger in any form. An opinion is always worth taking than the risks given our medical ignorance. The characteristic odour and flavor of ginger is attributed to the mixture of oils- zingerone, shogaols, gingerols.
Usage in recipes
Ginger is used in a variety of recipes/dishes. Some of the Indian recipes that are famous for the strong presence of ginger are Panagam, (Dry Ginger Sukku is used) Puli Inji Oorugai (Tamarind-Ginger pickle), ginger tea, inji murabba among others. Another regular feature found in every kitchen is the ginger-garlic paste that is used to prepare many gravy-based dishes.
Pic courtesy: healthimpactnews.com
So go ahead and unlock the treasure from your kitchen and try out amazing recipes you can make from Zingiber Officinalis!