By Naini Setalvad
Besides adding zing to your food, ginger is loaded with medicinal properties that makes it a handy remedy for several ailments
My early encounters with ginger were restricted to ‘adoo marcha’ paste, which was added in cooking, or a mixture of ginger and honey shoved down my throat when I had a cold or a cough. I never paid attention to ginger’s healing properties then. Until one day, I was crossing the English Channel to get to France from London. The sea was choppy and many of us were feeling terribly queasy and nauseous. The ship crew handed over little pieces of ginger to the passengers. In no time, we actually felt better! Ever since then, I never forget to carry a little piece of ginger in my travel bag. Any sort of motion sickness disappears with some ginger.
A chapter in the book, Yoga of herbs, opens with a quote, “Ginger is perhaps the best and most sattvic (life-supporting) of the spices. It was called vishwabhesaj, the universal medicine.”
Apart from motion sickness, ginger, especially in juice form can help in breathlessness due to congested nose, bronchitis, or asthma. Sip on it – either neat or diluted with water. If it is too strong for you then add a dash of lemon and half a teaspoon of organic honey. I cut thin slices and like lozenges, I suck on them. It feels really good.
If you have overeaten, have flatulence or other stomach problems – ginger juice or ginger tea will help. Boil some water with grated ginger and strain before drinking. No wonder ginger is added in most Indian cuisines to prevent indigestion. If you suffer from migraine or headache, consume ginger in some form every day. It prevents arthritic pain, and is excellent for joint pains – applying ginger juice or consuming ginger juice is beneficial.
• It helps to relieve nausea, morning sickness (during pregnancy) and motion sickness
• Helps to relieve menstrual cramps
• Produces marked relief in arthritic pain
• Improves conditions during asthma and migraines
• It has been used traditionally as a digestive aid. In many cultures, ginger is usually consumed after meals to aid digestion. In colonial times, candied ginger was consumed after meals.
• Relieves common cold and cough
• It has been documented that ginger helps weight loss as it makes the tissues use more energy
• It is a relaxant and has properties that warm the entire body, making it useful during fevers, aches and colds
• Helps relieve morning sickness in pregnant women
• A very powerful anti-oxidant, it prevents premature aging and degenerative diseases
• Research at Cornell Medical University has shown that it has an effect on blood clots that is similar to that of an aspirin. Hence, high cholesterol levels can be lowered using ginger
• It has been known to play an effective role in cancer prevention.
Dosage and administration (common recommendation
For commercial preparations, the following dosages are most common.
• Indigestion: Two to four grams a day
• Motion sickness: One gram 30 minutes before travel; for continuing symptoms, 0.5 to one gram every four hours. Another popular remedy is three or four slices of ginger in a cup of boiling water to make ginger tea.
• To prevent vomiting: 0.5 to two grams daily
• Arthritis: One to two grams daily
• Pregnancy: For nausea associated with pregnancy, women can take up to one gram daily, but should not use ginger for extended periods.
Candied ginger may irritate oral tissue and other mucous membranes. Also, it produces heat in the body hence can cause piles and haemorrhoids or could cause a breakout of acne. So drink a lot of water if you are consuming ginger and stop if any of these conditions occur.
When buying ginger, fresh is best! Avoid ginger with dry wrinkled skin, mould, or soft spots. Ginger can definitely give you many benefits but more is not always better. An ounce a day should give you all the benefits you will need.
Naini Setalvad is an obesity and health food consultant, columnist for leading newspapers and conducts workshops on healthy eating.
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