Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cures in the Kitchen - Ginger

You have a headache - you take a pill
You have a nasty cold - you take a pill
You have a skin rash - you take medicine
You have a hiccup - you take a pill...maybe not yet ..but I wouldnt be surprised if there is a cure available for that in the pharmacy ! The point being, I think the more advanced and technologically savvy our generation gets, the more paranoid we become.
At least, with respect to illnesses and diseases. I am not negating the effectiveness of modern medicines and the wonderful cures that are now possible due to advances in science and technology. Such medicines were not heard of 20 - 30 years ago and have made a world of difference in the quality of life of the people who have access to these medicines.
What I see as a problem is the fact that more often than not, we tend to seek out medicines to quell the symptoms rather than getting at the root of the illness and trying to find a solution for that.
We all know that the human body is a wonderful , self-correcting , self healing entity ;if only we give it a chance to do its job. I do not have a medical background and I am not an expert on any alternative healing techniques, but I know for a fact that a dose of healthy food and an active lifestyle does wonders for the human body. Most of modern day illnesses are a result of gross over-indulgence and over processing of food. Food is extremely nurturing;we only have to make it work for us.
We need not even look far, the humble kitchen pantry has a host of silent soldiers which are quite effective at combating mild discomforts and illnesses.

The Cures in The Kitchen series is my attempt at maintaining a list of common ingredients found in the kitchen that can be used as a first line of defense against illnesses.

Today's Star is Ginger - (botanical name Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is a ubiquitous ingredient in several Asian cuisines. It has a very distinct pungent flavour.
Young ginger is relatively mild. When ginger fully matures, it starts getting dry and fibrous. It is advisable to avoid dry ginger. Ginger is very widely used in the Indian sub-continent and
it shouldnt be surprising to find out that India is the largest producer of Ginger, followed by China.
Fresh ginger is usually peeled and then used to flavour vegetable, curry and even rice preparations. There are a myriad of medicinal uses of Ginger, not only as prescribed in Ayurveda, but also internationally.
Here are but a few of them :

  • Ginger tea made with fresh ginger, black pepper and lemon has been long used to soothe common colds and sore throats.
  • Ginger preparations are used against diarrhea.
  • Ginger is also very effective in treating nausea and morning sickness. Ginger tea or crystallized ginger can be consumed to combat nausea.
  • Ginger is also used in the treatment of inflammation.
  • A paste of ginger, when applied to the forehead is said to relieve headaches.
  • Fresh Ginger juice when mixed with honey and tulsi (holy basil) is often used for coughs and sore throats. (Since honey is not to be administered to infants, this applies to older children and adults.)
  • Ginger has also been touted as having digestive properties. Fresh ginger included in meals aids in digestion.
  • Ginger increases the warmth in the body and increases perspiration, thus helping in reducing fevers.
  • Regular consumption of ginger helps is stimulating proper blood circulation and helps in flushing out the toxins from the blood stream.

Possible side-effects:
Although general and moderate use of ginger doesnt cause any side effects in healthy people,
excessive doses can cause heartburn and irritation of the mouth.
Its also recommended that people with gall stones should not consume ginger.

Availablility :
Young fresh ginger is available at local Asian stores.
Fresh mature ginger can be found at health food stores and in the produce section of grocery stores.
Dried ginger or ginger powder is available in Asian stores and at health food stores.
Ginger in capsule form is also available at local health food stores.

Fresh ginger can be stored in the refrigerator's salad drawer.
Powdered ginger should be stored in an airtight container. The taste of powdered ginger is quite different to that of fresh ginger.
Medicinal usages almost always employ fresh ginger.

Ginger belongs to the same family as turmeric, cardomom and galangal(Used in Thai cuisines)

Personal Notes:
I have personally used ginger tea very effectively in reducing the effects of a common cold and sore throat.
I have also used it to combat nausea.
I frequently administer ginger juice and honey to my son, a preschooler , when he seems to be developing a cough.
I sometimes add the juice of tulsi leaves (holy basil plant).
I almost always add chopped fresh ginger while cooking.

Recipes :
Add a small sliver of ginger to your tea cup to awaken your sleepy senses in the morning.
Add fresh grated ginger to a cup of fresh fruits and see what a difference that makes to an ordinary fruit plate.
I will be adding more recipes that use ginger as the star ingredient.

As an end note, I would like to say that we should use our common sense while making a decision about our health and that of our family. Moderation is the key for everything !
if you or anybody in your family is really sick or if you dont know the cause of the illness, then go to a doctor with haste follow his recommendations regarding treatment of the condition,
but give the hidden medicines in your kitchen a chance first. You might just be surprised !

Do share how you use this wonder in the kitchen as a medicinal tool !

Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional. What I have noted above is some information that I got on the internet, some information received from my mother and grandmother and some shared personal experiences about using a herb.
This post is not intended as a replacement for traditional medicines.
Proper guidance of a healthcare professional must always be sought before trying out anything new.


  1. Lovely blog with diverse topics. Like the kitchen tips very informative. Good to be here, best wishes.

  2. @Sanjeeta - Thank you ! I am glad you liked the tips :) ...

  3. Informative and useful post. Keep rocking. Visit my blog when time permits.


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