“Everything good is found in ginger.” Indian proverb
There are several foods I regard as panaceas – Aloe Vera, garlic, turmeric, and ginger. Today I am going to dwell on the last one. But before I start, I would briefly explain what panacea means. In Greek mythology,
Panacea (or Panakeia) was the Goddess of Universal Remedy. According to Dictionary.com, a panacea is regarded as the answer or the remedy to all difficulties or diseases, or in a nutshell – a cure-all (what it literally means in Latin).
A Spice, a Condiment or a Food in Itself
The fragrant, pungent and piquant ginger is one of the world’s healthiest foods. The tender rhizomes are juicy and fleshy, while the mature roots are fibrous and dry. Its flesh ranges from yellow through red to yellow, depending on its variety. Ginger (or Zingiber officinale Roscoe) is widely used across Asian cuisine – Indian and Chinese, in particular. Having myself been to China a couple of times, I have seen them using it in meals ranging from salads through main courses to various desserts. Chinese people usually refer to it as “a Chinese medicine”, but do not get offended too quickly as they say that for many things, which are extensively used in the Middle Kingdom but originate somewhere else.
In Ayurveda and Hinduism, it is a fire plant, considered a food of the fire god Agni who lives in the belly of people (Manipura chakra) and helps not only the digestion but also positively influences the emotions, eroticism and sexuality. It is believed that those who feed their fire god with ginger, will have a very active sexual energy.
Health Benefits of Ginger
In addition to the excellent taste that it adds to a meal, it has a long history for the use of its medicinal properties:
- Thanks to its functional ingredients – gingerols, shogaol, and paradols – it could be consumed to prevent various types of cancers.
- Ginger is also known to be beneficial for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, although studies are hesitating in their support. It is also a widespread cure for nausea taking place during pregnancy.
- If ginger is consumed right before exercise, it could relieve occurring quadriceps muscle pain due to its anti-inflammatory effects which are further to be researched for humans.
- Along with its anti-inflammatory properties, another study suggests ginger has antioxidant, anti-platelet, and other effects in treating cardiovascular diseases.
- Other diseases that this panacea could successfully treat include bronchitis, cough, diarrhoea, dysentery, flatulence, heartburn, infections, and loss of appetite.
- Ayurvedic and Chinese herbal medicines also commend ginger for its ability to improve food digestion.
- Zingiber officinale helps against depression and high cholesterol too.
Of course, as any other thing in this world – if it is excessively consumed, side effects might occur. Different people’s bodies react in their own way to certain spices, so if you have never eaten ginger, try a little and see how your body responds. I also suggest consulting a doctor if you have some specific conditions.
Selection and Storing of Ginger
It goes without saying that fresh ginger is preferred to its dried form because it is not only stronger in flavour, but also has a high content of gingerol and active protease (the compound that helps with anti-inflammation). When buying the root, ensure that it is firm and not moulded.
Although most supermarkets offer ginger powder, a great idea is to visit the local spice stores around you. Usually, their freshness and quality outstrip those in supermarkets. Personally, I like regular powder, but organic is also an option. There are other forms in which the spicy panacea is sold – pickled, crystallised or candied. I have tried the candied version and the sugar, which the small chunks of ginger are coated into, takes away a bit of the strong, pungent taste. A tastier, and healthier, option would be to combine the ginger with honey instead of sugar.
How about a chocolate with this spicy panacea?