Ginger is just as familiar in our kitchen as garlic and has a long reputation of being a medicinal plant. Even the biggest skeptic of plants aiding in health will reach for ginger ale at the sign of stomach upset!
Ginger scientific name is Zingiber officinale Roscoe, and the part we know is found underground, also called the rhizome of the plant. Ginger is also called root ginger.
Ginger has a long history for treating ailment and as a health aid. Both China and India viewed it as an advanced medicine applying it in different treatments for its toning abilities and spiritually uplifting properties and more recently, in the western world, it has been noted for its ability to bring about digestion, calm down stomach upset, and ease aches and pains.
There has been a great deal of research on ginger and its therapeutic effects, mostly in Japan and Europe while the western world seems to still be catching up.
Ginger improves digestion of proteins as well as being an effective treatment for sea sickness and motion sickness. Most over the counter pills you find for motion sickness will have ginger in them. It also strengthens the mucosal lining of the upper gastrointestinal tract that can protect from ulcers and intestinal parasites.
When you dry ginger you change the chemistry of it and it has different properties for healing. When you dry it you form shogaols which is a compound that has a more powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect. People with arthritis and other inflammatory ailments may get much more benefit for dried ginger or powdered ginger than from fresh for those ailments. You can buy them in most health food stores.
If you want to steal a good trick for your cooking you should note that ginger is used widely in Chinese cooking as it cancels out the unwanted effects of other ingredients that can produce indigestion.
A great and popular way to take your ginger is in ginger tea. Put a half of teaspoon if freshly grated ginger into a cup of boiling water and steep for about ten minutes or so. Then strain the ginger out and add honey to taste. You can drink this hot or cold.
There is also honey based ginger syrups available for purchase that you can add to drinks or you can make it on your own by adding one par ginger to three parts raw honey and keep it in the refrigerator to stay fresh.
The side effect of ginger is possible heartburn if you take too big of an amount on an empty stomach. Funny that it heals the stomach but can cause heartburn! The best way to take fresh ginger is with food to avoid this from happening.