What About Ginger ??

                    The first thing you think of when you hear ginger ...

Want to know what else ginger is good for ? Ginger is a interesting spice with many medicinal and culinary uses. I know it was my grandmother's old standby for an upset stomach. So with gingerbread houe baking kits flying off the shelves this time of year, here's a little more about the root and the qualities that accents so much food around the world.

Ginger produces clusters of white and pink flower buds that bloom into yellow flowers. Traditionally, the root is gathered when the stalk withers. The root is immediately scalded, or washed and scraped, to kill it and prevent sprouting. A vastly popular spice for over 5000 years, it is still popular today and used in the cooking of both Eastern and Western cultures. Native to Southeastern Asia, ginger was used over 5000 years ago in Chinese medicine as well. It is well known for its ability to soothe digestive ailments which is probably why my grandma had us reach for a can of ginger ale when we had a stomach ache. Ever since 1585, Jamaican ginger was the first asian spice to be grown in the New World and imported back to Europe. India has over 30% of the global share, and now leads in global production of ginger, replacing China, which has slipped to the second position, followed by Indonesia, Nepal and Thailand. The oils in ginger cause more digestive enzymes to be produced which helps to neutralize stomach acids and can relive nausea, diarrhea and cramping.
It can also aid in digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Ginger is so powerful in reliving nausea that it is used in treating both motion sickness and morning sickness. Ginger can also help reduce inflammation. So it can be used to treat any disease that is caused by inflammations such as arthritis or ulcers. Some studies show that it can even help inhibit the replication of the herpes simplex virus. Being a warming herb, ginger can help knock out a fever. This property also makes it effective in stimulating circulation of the blood. Asians put ginger in their bath water to encourage a good sweat.

It can also help relax muscles around the blood vessels and is said to help prevent blood clots from forming. The warming effects make it a natural decongestant as well as an antihistamine, making it the perfect aid for colds. The American Phytotherapy Research Laboratory in Salt Lake City has conducted a classic study on motion sickness, which may cause you to leave the dramamine on the shelf during your next boating or fishing trip. They spun motion sickness-prone students in two groups. One group was given Dramamine, the other group ginger. It was discovered that the group given the ginger was able to withstand the full 6 minute "spin" with less nausea and dizziness, while the other group stopped the ride within 4-1/2 minutes. A researcher at the Cornell University Medical College discovered that ginger has an effect on blood clots that is similar to that of aspirin, and it appears that high cholesterol levels are lowered. Ginger oil has been shown to prevent skin cancer in mice and a study at the University of Michigan demonstrated that gingerols can kill ovarian cancer cells. Ginger root supplement was identified in another study to help reduce colon inflammation markers such as PGE2, thus providing a possible cost-effective preventative measure for colon cancer. In a 2010 study, researchers at the University of Georgia have found that daily ginger consumption also reduces muscle pain caused by exercise. Daily consumption of ginger was shown to help ease muscle pain associated with exercise by 25%, suggesting a new cost-effective treatment to pain associated with recent exercise. It was also believed that heating ginger, as occurs with cooking, might increase its pain-relieving effects.

Motion sickness presents symptoms including dizziness, nausea, vomiting and perspiration. Ginger can remedy all of these symptoms, according to World's Healthiest Foods website. In fact, WHF cites that ginger may be a more effective motion sickness remedy than Dramamine, an over-the-counter and prescription drug widely-used for this purpose. The National Institutes of Health, or NIH, identifies two other types of nausea that may be remedied with ginger. When taken prior to surgery, ginger may prevent or reduce post-operative nausea and vomiting. Also, ginger may reduce the severity and duration of nausea that is a common side effect of chemotherapy treatments. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties potentially useful in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, according to WHF. Ginger can lessen inflammation-induced pain, and reduce reliance on pain medications. It seems like most conditions related to inflammation may benefit from ginger as well. Ginger may also function as an anti-platelet agent, according to the NIH. Along with helping to prevent blood clots, another possible benefit of ginger is lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, and we know that these two effects can help protect against heart disease.

FYI, Ginger acts as a useful food preservative. Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger but the flavors of fresh and dried ginger are kinda different. Powdered dry ginger root is 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. Although not mandatory I peel fresh ginger before eating. Then I either pulverize it with a steak mallet for use or put it through my hand garlic press, or grate it. You can add it to any fish or seafood dish, all Asian food, or mac & cheese or even make tea. For longer-term storage, the ginger can be placed in a plastic bag and refrigerated or frozen. I have a nice root in my freezer now. Now when buying ginger, of course fresh is best. So be sure to avoid ginger with dry, wrinkled, skin, mold or soft spots. African and Indian ginger are the most potent. Grating or using a garlic press will give you the maximum benefit. Ginger can definitely give you many benefits but eating more is not always better. If you eat 7-9 ounces a week this should give you all the benefits you will need. In the West, we most often use ginger in baking. Not cooking. We bake it into sweets such as gingerbread, ginger snaps cookies, pancakes, and muffins, but it can really go great in most any kind of dish coming out o your kitchen, and plays very well with garlic. Fresh ginger juice is very potent as it contains high levels of active enzymes. The root of the ginger plant is not only good for its flavor, and antioxidants but also for its healing qualities. Always remember check with your Doctor before changing your diet, especially if you take prescription meds. So looks like adding a little more ginger to our regular diet could be a good idea. Good Luck...

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