Ginger Root (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root or simply ginger, is widely used as a spice or a folk medicine. Ginger is in the family Zingiberaceae, to which also belong turmeric (Curcuma longa), cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), and galangal. Ginger originated in the tropical rainforests from the Indian subcontinent to Southern Asia where ginger plants show considerable genetic variation. As one of the first spices exported from the Orient, ginger arrived in Europe during the spice trade, and was used by ancient Greeks and Romans. The distantly related dicots in the genus Asarum are commonly called wild ginger because of their similar taste.
Other Common Names: Jamaican ginger, Indian Ginger, gan-jiang, sheng-jiang, African ginger, black ginger, zingiber officinale.
The English origin of the word, “ginger”, is from the mid-14th century, from Old English gingifer, from Medieval Latin gingiber, from Greek zingiberis, from Prakrit (Middle Indic) singabera, from Sanskrit srngaveram, from srngam “horn” and vera- “body”, from the shape of its root. The word probably was readopted in Middle English from Old French gingibre (modern French gingembre).
Raw ginger is composed of 79% water, 18% carbohydrates, 2% protein, and 1% fat (table). In 100 grams (a standard amount used to compare with other foods), raw ginger supplies 80 Calories and contains moderate amounts of vitamin B6 (12% of the Daily Value, DV) and the dietary minerals, magnesium (12% DV) and manganese (11% DV), but otherwise is low in nutrient content. When used as a spice powder in a common serving amount of one US tablespoon (5 grams), ground dried ginger (9% water) provides negligible content of essential nutrients, with the exception of manganese (70% DV).
100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of raw ginger contains approximately:
- 80 calories
- 8 grams carbohydrates
- 8 grams protein
- 7 grams fat
- 2 grams dietary fiber
- 415 milligrams potassium (12 percent DV)
- 2 milligrams copper (11 percent DV)
- 2 milligrams manganese (11 percent DV)
- 43 milligrams magnesium (11 percent DV)
- 5 milligrams vitamin C (8 percent DV)
- 2 milligrams vitamin B6 (8 percent DV)
- 7 milligrams niacin (4 percent DV)
- 34 milligrams phosphorus (3 percent DV)
- 6 milligrams iron (3 percent DV)
In addition to the nutrients listed above, ginger also contains a small amount of calcium, zinc, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and thiamin. However, keep in mind that most people consume a very small portion of ginger, so it should be combined with a variety of other nutrient-dense foods to meet your micronutrient needs.
The characteristic fragrance and flavor of ginger result from volatile oils that compose 1-3% of the weight of fresh ginger, primarily consisting of zingerone, shogaols and gingerols with -gingerol (1-[4′-hydroxy-3′-methoxyphenyl]-5-hydroxy-3-decanone) as the major pungent compound. Zingerone is produced from gingerols during drying, having lower pungency and a spicy-sweet aroma.
Benefits of Using Ginger Root
Ginger has been used for in cooking and traditional medicine for thousands of years. It is currently one of the most widely used herbs worldwide.
- It has been used traditionally for a long time to treat nausea. Scientific evidence confirms its uses as an herbal remedy for nausea and related ailments such as morning sickness and motion sickness.
- Several studies have found that ginger could help prevent the formation of stomach ulcers. In fact, one 2011 animal study showed that ginger powder protected against aspirin-induced stomach ulcers by decreasing levels of inflammatory proteins and blocking the activity of enzymes related to ulcer development.
- Ginger contains many anti-fungal compounds which make it a popular herb for treating athlete’s foot. Fungal infections cause a wide variety of conditions, from yeast infections to jock itch and athlete’s foot. Fortunately, ginger has powerful anti-fungal properties that can safely and successfully help kill off disease-causing fungi.
- The health benefits of ginger are largely due to its antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and content of therapeutic compounds like gingerol, shogaol, paradol and zingerone. Studies have shown that ginger root inhibits the production of cytokines, which promote inflammation. Therefore, the traditional Indian use for treating inflammation is gaining new-found popularity.
- Some of the other traditional Asian uses for this herb include stimulating the appetite, promoting perspiration, and fighting body odor.
- It has been used to treat pain and traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicinal uses include ginger root in herbal arthritis treatment. Treatment of joint pain, especially those conditions caused by poor circulation, is another popular use of this herb.
- Heart health is another benefit of ginger use. It has been shown to slow the production of LDL and triglycerides in the liver and prevent the clotting and aggregation of platelets in the blood vessels, associated with atherosclerosis and blood clots.
- One of the most impressive benefits of ginger is its anti-cancer properties, thanks to the presence of a powerful compound called 6-gingerol. Test-tube studies show that ginger and its components may be effective in blocking cancer cell growth and development for ovarian, pancreatic and prostate cancer. However, more research is needed to determine how the anti-cancer properties of ginger may translate to humans.
- Unfortunately, adverse side effects like pain, period cramps and headaches are commonly associated with menstruation for many women. While some turn to over-the-counter medications to provide symptom relief, natural remedies like ginger can be just as useful at easing menstrual pain.
- The root has also been used to treat some of the symptoms of common cold and flu such as loosening phlegm and treating chills. During cold weather, drinking ginger tea is good way to keep warm. It is diaphoretic, which means that it promotes sweating, working to warm the body from within. To make ginger tea at home, slice 20 to 40 grams (g) of fresh ginger and steep it in a cup of hot water. Adding a slice of lemon or a drop of honey adds flavor and additional benefits, including vitamin C and antibacterial properties.
Ginger for Your Skin and Hair (GingerParrot.co.uk)
Here are our favorite Ten Beauty Benefits of Ginger for Skin and Hair – they’re all reasons to eat ginger every day!
- Anti-ageing: Redheads are well-versed in the importance of wearing SPF to protect the skin from the sun, the biggest influence of the appearance of ageing. But eating ginger can also help fight wrinkles! The food is packed with the super-foodiness of anti-oxidants, which reduce toxins in skin cells while increasing blood circulation, helping to reduce the appearance of ageing.
- Blemishes and Acne: Not only is ginger great for anti-ageing, it can also help with spots and imperfections. Ginger contains powerful antiseptic and cleansing qualities, minimizing the rate of spot and acne formation by actively killing bacteria on the skin’s surface and deep inside the pores. And sensitive-skinned redheads will be pleased to know that ginger is the best natural acne-fighting solution, so it’s great for those with delicate skin.
- Soothes burns and blisters: Probably not wise to apply immediately after a new burn, but your skin has cooled, fresh ginger juice is said to soothe and heal blisters, burnt skin or sunburn.
- Radiant skin: As odd as it sounds, slices of ginger root applied to your face can help to give you a refreshing glow. We agree that it doesn’t sound too glamourous, so perhaps try it when you’re home alone.
- Skin toning: While cleaning, fighting blemishes and making your skin more radiant, ginger also gets to work on toning your skin. A face mask is an ideal method for this. Try mixing grated ginger with a natural mask mix (or store-bought); it’ll help to moisturize and soften the skin, leaving it supple and glowing.
- Hypopigmental (white) scars: If you have scarred areas that are slightly lighter in pigmentation than the rest of your skin, a piece of fresh ginger can help. For noticeable results, hold a sliver of fresh ginger on the white scar for 30-40 minutes. This should be done every day for at least a week, at which point you should start seeing the color come back to your skin.
- Reduces hair loss: Ginger root makes your ginger roots stronger! Thus reducing hair loss, something we obviously want to prevent – keep living the ginger dream!
- Stimulates hair growth: Not only does ginger reduce hair loss, but it increases blood circulation to the scalp, also making hair silky and shiny at the same time.
- Fights dandruff: Ginger contains natural antiseptic properties which help to fight dandruff issues.
- Split ends: With its anti-oxidants, ginger can seriously help to repair any split ends and dry hair problems. Mix some ginger oil with your shampoo and watch how its natural moisturizing powers help to fix any dryness.
Ginger is available in fresh or dried root, tablets, capsules, powder, tincture, and tea forms. Customary daily dosages are:
Fresh Ginger Root: 1/3 of an ounce of fresh ginger root daily. This can be taken in tea form or used in baking or other herbal uses. Take five to six thin slices of fresh ginger and steep it in hot water for thirty minutes to make a fresh ginger tea.
Dried Ginger Root: 150 to 300 milligrams of the dried root can be taken three times daily in capsule or powder form.
It may also be used to make tea. A teaspoonful of the dried powder may be added to a pint of hot water and steeped for 30 minutes to make the tea.
Tablets and capsules generally come in 150 mg to 500 mg doses.
Potential Side Effects of Using Ginger
Allergic reactions to ginger generally result in a rash. Although generally recognized as safe, ginger can cause heartburn and other side effects, particularly if taken in powdered form. Unchewed fresh ginger may result in intestinal blockage, and individuals who have had ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, or blocked intestines may react badly to large quantities of fresh ginger. It can also adversely affect individuals with gallstones and may interfere with the effects of anticoagulants, such as warfarin or aspirin.
- Pregnant women should be careful with ginger due to its potential to cause uterine contractions.
- It has also been shown to interfere with the absorption of dietary iron and fat-soluble vitamins.
- Stomach upset is a common side effect with larger doses. It may potentiate the effects of blood thinners, barbiturates, beta-blockers, insulin, and other diabetes medications.
- Due to the blood thinning effect, it should not be used before surgery.