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Ginger: AKA African Ginger


Zingiber Officinale

Family: Zingiberaceae


Description:

The Zingiberaceae plant family includes a wide variety of gingers, plus melegueta pepper, turmeric, and cardamom. Ginger is an aromatic perennial herb that has creeping horizontal underground stems or tuberous rhizomes. The ginger plant has yellow flowers and grows to a meter high.

Origin:

Ginger was first cultivated in South Asia, near the Himalayan ranges. In addition ginger is now also grown in East Africa, the Caribbean, and other countries around the world.

History:

Native to South Asia, Ginger is a favorite of ancient and modern Chinese , Indian, and Middle East diets because of it's aromatic, culinary and medicinal properties. It has been a renowned root for more than 2,000 years. Ancient Romans began importing ginger from China to the Mediterranean region to be integrated into their cuisine, but not until the middle ages did the use of ginger spread throughout Europe. Ginger a very expensive imported spice, was soon in great demand by the European populace. To make it more available, Spanish explorers introduced the the cultivation of ginger to the West Indies and tropical Americas. The rhizome root can be separated into pieces, with each piece giving rise to a new plant. By the 16th century, this exotic root was being exported back to Europe.

Nutritional Values:

Consumed whole, as a delicacy, medicine, or spice, ginger is low in calories, and is a rich source of many essential nutrients and vitamins, such as: pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and panthothenic acid (vitamin B-5) which are essential for optimal health. Ginger also contains a good amount of minerals such as: potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium.

Medicinal Values:

Ginger produces stimulating warmth, and is a mild expectorant, providing relief to cold and flu symptoms, and circulation problems. Ginger's anti-inflammatory properties lessen joint pain and swelling, improve symptoms of arthritis, rheumatism, osteoporosis, gout, and promotes healing. Ginger has antibacterial, antiseptic, and antimicrobial properties help your body fight against pathogens and skin infections. It can help reduce fever, and act as a mild sedative. It's a carminative, and is widely used to ease motion sickness, stomach upset, nausea, cramps, and diarrhea. Ginger increases gastrointestinal tract action and stimulates the production of saliva, which makes swallowing easier and increases metabolic heat to burn calories. A gem for the heart, it lowers cholesterol, stabilizes blood pressure, and helps prevent clotting - reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke. It contains 6-gingerol, which studies have shown provides some protection against free-radicals and colorectal cancer, skin cancer, and ovarian cancer.

Beneficial Parts:

Tuberous rhizome root.

Suggested Preparation:

Powdered or freshly grated ginger is often used as a flavor ingredient in baking and cooking because of it's unique taste. It can also be sliced and pickled in vinegar or sherry to be eaten as a snack.

For most medicinal applications add it to chicken soup or steep as tea by itself or with a complimentary herb like peppermint.

Warnings:

Check with your doctor or pharmacist first if you are unsure if your medications might interact with ginger consumption.

Ginger might slow blood clotting. Taking ginger along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Ginger might reduce blood pressure in a way that is similar to some medications for blood pressure and heart disease. Taking ginger along with these medications might cause your blood pressure to drop too low or an irregular heartbeat.

Ginger might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking ginger along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

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