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Ginger (Ground)

English Name:                                        Ginger

Hindi Name:                                         Ādrak/Sunth

Sanskrit Name:                                         Ārdrakam/Śhuntha

Latin Name:                                        Zingiberis officinale, roscoe

Plant Family:                                        Zingiberaceae

Region Grown:                                        Ginger is grown throughout India, the finest (like ours!) comes from Kochi, Kerala.

Part of Plant Used:                                        Rhizomes (swollen underground stems)

Plant Description:                                        Ginger plants grow to around one metre tall, with straight stems and long, thin leaves. It has purple flowers with cream blotches at the base, and produces red fruit.

Characteristics:                                        Ginger is probably best known over here for its use in sweet food, such as ginger bread, but its use in Asian cooking (sweet & savoury) dates back 4400 years. Ginger’s popularity in Indian cooking grew particularly in the 13th century with the rise of Muslim rule. It is also well known for its medicinal qualities. In India ginger is often brewed up with tea, especially in winter. Young ginger is mild and can be pickled. Fresh ginger finely chopped and combined with fresh garlic into a paste can be found in many Indian kitchens.

Aroma:                                        Pungent, warm, sweet, woody, with a fiery bite.

History:                                        Ginger was popular with Romans, although more for its medicinal qualities than culinary, who traded with India over 2000 years ago. Its popularity in Europe fell slightly with the collapse of the Roman empire, although Arab merchants kept the trade going, and its popularity gradually grew. Henry VIII revered ginger for its medicinal benefits, and the gingerbread man was reputedly first served by Elizabeth I.Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in 1386, "they sette him roial spicery and gyngebreed" and there are recipes for gingerbread dating back to the 14th century. During this time it was one of the most commonly traded spices, along with black pepper, and was sometimes used as a cheaper alternative.

Points of Interest:                                        Ginger is related to turmeric. It was also known as ‘Grains of Paradise’ in the Middle Ages.

Ayurvedic Properties:                                         Cools Vata with salt, Pitta with unrefined sugar, & Kapha with honey. Acts upon the digestive & respiratory systems. Has anti-oxidant, analgesic, anti-emetic, aromatic, aphrodisiac, carminative, diaphoretic (induces perspiration), digestive, expectorant, nervine, sialagogue (aids production of saliva), anti-tumour & stimulant properties. It has many medicinal uses within the Ayurveda, and also enables other herbs to be more effective.Can be used for settling digestive tract and is the best spice for kindling digestive fire, relieves arthritis, belching, heart disease, laryngitis (taken as a tea), vomiting, constipation, good for memory, dilates vessels (which is also the reason for its’ warming effect), incontinence, flatulence, colic, asthma, spasms, fever, and eye diseases. Reduces nausea, including seasickness (eat the ginger shortly before traveling on a boat), morning sickness, and chemotherapy. Juice helps with coughs, colds and vomiting. Dry improves poor digestion. Research is ongoing into its potential cancer fighting properties. Studies at the University of Michigan already suggest it could help to fight ovarian cancer.Energetics: Pungent, sweet-hot-sweet

Precautions:                                                            Pure oil can irritate the skin and mucus membranes. It doesn’t mix well with Warfarin, speak to a doctor if this concerns you – in small quantities it shouldn’t be a problem, but probably best not to take our word for it.

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