Ginger - The healing spice
Ginger is said to have originated from South Asia, to be precise, from India where we find many distinct genetic variations of Ginger. India still is the largest producer of Ginger, and historical recordings cite that ginger was one among the prominentspices that traveled to Europe from the Indian subcontinent during the 1st century AD when spice trade to the Roman Empire was in vogue.
Today ginger is used across the world for culinary purposes notably in East Asian cuisine; in Burmese, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese recipes. In India, ginger is a favorite everyday household spice, used for spicing and flavoring foods and beverages. Any tea lover would love to indulge in a sip of Adrak Chai (Tea flavored with wet ginger) and Masala Chai (Tea flavored with dry ginger and a host of other spices) during cold weather.
Ginger is also used widely in many traditional and folk medicines. It is also a key ingredient in some Ayurvedic drugs. Both wet and dry gingers have distinct medicinal properties and are used accordingly in Ayurvedic preparations, mostly in the treatment of digestive and respiratory disorders.
The juice of fresh ginger is useful in balancing Vata and Kapha doshas. It is also helpful in clearing the throat and removing the whitish layer that forms over the tongue. As an appetizer, ginger stimulates hunger and production of saliva. It is handy in treating nausea, especially in pregnant women and nursing mothers. Ginger improves digestive strength, relieves bloating of stomach and also helps in treating constipation by breaking down the stool.
When it comes to treating respiratory disorders, ginger is very effective in treating cough, common cold and chronic respiratory conditions like Asthma. Everyday consumption of ginger tea (a concoction made out of ginger) in moderate quantity will also help in easing these conditions. Adding a little cardamom to ginger tea would prevent throat irritation and drying of the palate. Dry ginger balls made with jaggery can be consumed in the morning to keep oneself warm during the winter months. Topical application of ginger essence is also a suggested remedy for joint pains and muscle soreness.