Ginger is a rhizome or enlarged underground stem that is called a hand of ginger as it grows in a shape of a palm with fingers. They were first native to India but have since been cultivated in many tropical and subtropical areas, even grown in climate-controlled greenhouses.
The plant we see out of the earth is a stark contrast to the rhizome buried out of sight. The ginger plant produces pretty white and pink clustered buds that bloom into yellow flowers. Because it is so pleasing on the eye, the Ginger plant is often used in tropical landscaping in warmer climates.
A culinary wonder
This rhizome is pungent and warming in flavor and is a culinary delight, used in many savory dishes in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Ginger is wonderful in marinades for meat as it helps tenderize the meat and at the same time adding flavor.
In western countries ginger is a more familiar ingredient in confectionary foods such as gingerbread, ginger cookies and ginger ale. Many cultures around the world have made their variations of ginger beers and ales for centuries and it is no wonder seeing ginger has a laundry list of known health benefits and still is being studied to see what else this little golden wonder can do for us. Here are just some of the health benefits of ginger:
- Stimulates digestion
- Boosts circulation
- Treat colds and fevers
- Effective remedy for nausea
- Relieves headaches
There is also ongoing research on how ginger may be an aid in preventing and curing some kinds of cancer
Ginger is medicine
There are so many ways we can get the health benefits of ginger to help us with these ailments. The best and most effective way to reap the benefits of ginger is to use fresh ginger it in your diet.
Add a teaspoon of grated ginger to your smoothies in the morning to add a warming effect and aid in circulation, perfect before a winter workout.
Don’t have fresh ginger, no worries, you can buy powered ginger, this makes a great addition to curries or in your baked goods. You can also get ginger essential oils which should be mixed with a carrier oil to prevent it burning your skin but can have great results in helping with nausea and diarrhea when used as an external rub.
Have a cold?
At the onset of a cold, add ½ teaspoon each cinnamon and ginger in 1cup hot organic milk. Add 1 tablespoon of honey and drink while hot. Or seep fresh sliced ginger in hot water to make a ginger tea, add a teaspoon of honey and sip to help clear your head.
Got a headache?
Grate some fresh ginger and rub a few drops of the ginger juice on the area of your head that is hurting.
The ways this amazing little knob can benefit us almost feels endless that is why it is a good idea to always have some on hand. You can easily store the dried ginger in your pantry but if you want to keep fresh ginger on hand store it in a sealed container or zip lock bag in the freezer.
Ginger is just another way nature helps us to feel our best.
- Jude C. Williams, M.H., Jude’s Herbal Home Remedies (Llewellyn Publications, 1996), p. 84
- Rebecca Wood, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, (Penguin Books, 1999), p. 143
- Valerie Gennari Cooksley, R.N., Aromatherapy Soothing Remedies to Restore, Rejuvenate, and Heal, (Prentice Hall Press, 2002), p. 349