Ginger is a perennial herb, with underground branching stems (rhizomes) which are swollen and tough. The leaves and rhizomes of ginger have a characteristic fragrance when cut or bruised. Rhizomes are dug out after the leafy parts are dried.
Ginger is available in two forms, fresh and dried. The sun-dried ginger is known as sounth in Hindi. Both the forms are effective. As the taste of ginger is not very palatable, it is carefully adapted to the plate by putting it in vegetables.
Ginger contains moisture 80.9 percent, protein 2.3 percent, fat 0.9 percent, minerals 1.2 percent, fiber 2.4 percent and carbohydrates 12.3 percent per 100 grams. Its mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, iron, phosphorous, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C.
Ginger has following important ingredients: volatile oil, water extract, oleoresin (acetone extract), cold alcohol extract, substantial amount of starch, total ash, water soluble ash, acid insoluble ash and alkalinity of ash of unpeeled ginger.
On steam distillation dried, cracked and crushed ginger yields pale yellow, viscid oil. The oil possesses the aromatic odor but not the pungent flavor of the spice. The odor of the oil is lingering.
Botanical Name: Zingiber officinale
Indian Name: Adrak
Below are some of the medicinal properties of ginger:
- Ginger is highly beneficial in the treatment of flatulence, dyspepsia, colic, vomiting, spasms and other painful affections of the stomach and the bowels, not accompanied by fever. Chewing a piece of fresh ginger regularly after meals prevents these ailments. This protective action is due to the excessive secretion of saliva, diastase enzyme and volatile oil.
- Ginger is a valuable remedy for cough and colds. Extracted juice of ginger with honey is taken three or four times a day in case of coughs. In case of colds, ginger cut into small pieces is boiled in a cup of water. After straining, with half a teaspoon of sugar, it should be taken hot. Ginger tea, prepared by adding a few pieces of ginger into boiled water before adding tea leaves, is another effective remedy for frequent colds and associated fevers.
- Half a teaspoon of fresh ginger juice, mixed with one teaspoon each of fresh lime and mint juices and a tablespoon of honey, is a useful remedy for dyspepsia, nausea and vomiting due to biliousness, indigestion caused by intake of heavy non-vegetarian and fried fatty food, morning sickness, jaundice and piles. This mixture should be taken thrice daily in the treatment of these conditions.
- A teaspoon of fresh ginger juice mixed with a cup of fenugreek decoction and honey to taste, makes an excellent diaphoretic mixture to proliferate sweating and reduces fever in influenza. It acts as an expectorant in bronchitis, asthma, whooping cough and tuberculosis of the lungs.
- It is an excellent pain killer. It can cure all types of pain. In headache, ginger ointment made by rubbing dry ginger with a little water on a grinding stone and applied to the forehead affords relief. It allays toothache when applied to the gum. In case of earache, a few drops of ginger juice give relief.
- For menstrual disorders, a piece of fresh ginger is pounded and boiled in a cup of water for a few minutes. The infusion, sweetened with sugar, is taken thrice daily after meals for painful or irregular menstruation caused by exposure to cold winds or by cold bath.
- Ginger juice is natural aphrodisiac. For better results, half a teaspoon of ginger juice honey with a half-boiled egg and is taken at night for a month. It tones up the sex organs and cures impotency, premature ejaculation and spermatorrhea or involuntary seminal discharge.