Ginger is the rhizome of the perennial herb Zingiber Officinale which can be found on the Southwest coast of India and the Malabar Coast. Is has been used as a medicinal plant and spice in India and China for thousands of years. World-wide, it is one of the most important and valued spices. Today, ginger grows in tropic regions all over the world. It is, however, not common in Europe, even though it used to be an important spice in Roman times. Ginger or ginger root is not really a root at all. It is a rhizome or underground stem.
Depending on the location it is being grown at, it is harvested nearly year-round. It is ready for harvest about five months after planting. The early harvests are used for ginger syrup and candied ginger. The later harvests are usually sold as fresh ginger. It becomes hotter and spicier, and better for homoeopathic remedies, the longer it is on the ground.
Many people like raw ginger. Sometimes people will soak ginger in water for several hours, then add it to the dish not long before serving. This gives it a more fresh, spicy and pungent taste. The freshness decreases and the pungency increase when fresh ginger is cooked. Often times, ginger is ground up into a powder and used in curries and spice pastes.
Slices of ginger are used quite often to flavour foods that need to simmer for long periods of time. The reason ginger is good for this is that the slices release their flavour quite slowly.
Ginger tea can be made by cooking slices of fresh ginger for a few minutes. It is a spicy and healthy drink that can be enjoyed in hot tropical climates or in freezing cold climates. If you sip this tea before a long trip it can help with motion sickness. Not only that, it is good for helping with upset stomachs, headaches, reducing excessive perspiration, and freshen one’s breath. If the tea is cooled, you can soak your feet in it to help ease the burn and itch of athletes foot.
Other benefits include cleansing of the colon, reducing spasm and cramps, stimulating circulation, and aiding metabolism.
Many people use it to treat nausea, gas, indigestion, morning sickness, vomiting, congestion, and headaches. It is good for the gastric system because it increases the pH of stomach acid, reducing its acidity, which in turn lowers the rate of gastric secretions and increasing digestive enzyme activity.
Ginger is also used by many as a mood enhancer. Its cineole content may help contribute to stress relief. So if you were to sip on a glass of ginger ale after a hard days work, it might be just what the doctor ordered.
There have been no reports of any significant known problems when ginger is taken at the recommended dosage. Additionally, there have been no reports of any drug interactions either.