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Ginger – The universal medicine
Ginger is a herbaceous plant with narrow leaf blades, rolled stems, and pale yellow flowers with purple edges. Ginger is a rhizome (part of the stem growing below the ground) like galangal and turmeric, which are equally important in traditional medicine.
It has also been extensively used as a multi-purpose spice in Chinese, Indian, and various other Asian cuisines for thousands of years. Although ginger grows in many parts of the world, India accounts for approximately 30% of the world’s ginger production.
Scientific name: Zingiber Officinale
Rasa (taste): Pungent
Virya (effect): Heating
Guna (quality): Dry, Heavy, Strong/Piercing
Part Used: Rhizome – Root: Fresh or Powdered
Classification: Rasayana (Rejuvenating)
Impact: Digestion, Liver, Dosha balance, Kidney, Skin, Vision
Dosha: Balances Kapha
Ginger – The universal medicine
Fresh Ginger (wet) is called adraka in Sanskrit and it has dry and heating qualities while ginger powder (dry) is called shunti in Sanskrit and it has oily and heating qualities. They have been categorized separately in Ayurveda and it is important to note the difference between fresh rhizome and dry ginger powder.
Generally, fresh ginger is used for cooking and it also supports respiratory and digestive health. Excessive use or long-term use can aggravate vata dosha due to these dry qualities. Conversely, dry powder is concentrated, oily, and can penetrate deeper into the tissues. It can be taken long-term by people with vata dosha.
The versatility of ginger’s benefits have been outlined in various important Ayurvedic texts. Ginger extracts have also been used during pregnancy to reduce pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting.¹
This brief background of ginger falls short to mirror the reverence for ginger and the praise in classical Ayurvedic texts. Nevertheless, let us look at some of its health benefits and discuss common uses of ginger in its fresh and powdered form.
Anti-inflammatory: The smell and taste of ginger can be attributed to gingerol – a highly-regarded bioactive compound in the natural oil of ginger. Gingerol is known to support a healthy inflammatory response. Ginger is also useful in supporting joint health, especially in the knees.
Digestion: Ginger’s katu rasa (pungency) enhances the flavor of food and causes salivation. Its heating effect on the stomach (virya) strengthens digestion and enhances the absorption of nutrition. Ayurveda emphatically states that one should start a meal with a few slices of ginger to support excellent digestive health. It has been used to improve digestive fire (agni) in people who have lost their appetite. Although ginger is pungent, it gets converted into a sweet taste after digestion (vipaka).
Weight Loss Support: Ginger is known to promote healthy weight loss.¹
Healthy Blood-Sugar Levels: Ginger can help to maintain blood-sugar levels already in the healthy range. Although this use is less prevalent in Ayurveda, modern research has shown that ginger (2g powder a day) can be very beneficial in this manner.
Respiratory Health: Ginger is commonly used nourish the respiratory system during a cold or sore throat. The pungency of ginger also supports sinus health. Ginger is also useful to promote oral health.
The other known health benefits of ginger are as follows:
- Provides stomach comfort during menstruation and motion-intensive travel
- Has aphrodisiac properties
- Enhances taste and supports a healthy appetite
- Removes ama (toxins) from the tongue and mouth
- Pacifies kapha dosha
Frequently Asked Questions
Please consult with your health care practitioner prior to the use of this product if you are pregnant or nursing, taking medications, or have a medical condition. Keep out of the reach of children.
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