Considered as one of the most used and “in demand” condiments in the world today, ginger is not only for the kitchen but among its benefits are relieving joint and muscle pain, fighting fungal infection and for sea and morning sickness.
Wikipedia defines ginger as a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root or simply ginger, is widely used as a spice or a folk medicine. It is a herbaceous perennial which grows annual pseudostems about a meter tall bearing narrow leaf blades.
Ginger’s scientific name is Zingiber Officinalis.
This is a tropical plant that was spread around the tropical world during the colonial days. In Africa, Asia, or South America, and many hot spots between those continents, locals have taken to using ginger widely in medicine and food. The entire ginger family is rich in oils that both kill micro-critters and stimulate the immune system to do the same. The ways it stimulates the body are many, and whether added to food or taken as a medicinal tea, ginger makes your body a little bit stronger and a little bit better able to resist the damaging forces of nature. Here are the basics for using ginger as a medicine.
GINGER’S HEALTH BENEFITS
- Ginger contains Gingerol, a substance with powerful medicinal properties – Ginger is a popular spice. It is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Ginger can treat many forms of nausea, especially morning sickness – 1-1.5 grams of ginger can help prevent various types of nausea. This applies to sea sickness, chemotherapy-related nausea, nausea after surgery and morning sickness.
- Ginger may reduce muscle pain and soreness – Ginger appears to be effective at reducing the day-to-day progression of muscle pain, and may reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness.
- The anti-inflammatory effects can help with osteoarthritis – There are some studies showing ginger to be effective at reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis, which is a very common health problem.
- Ginger may drastically lower blood sugars and improve heart disease risk factors – Ginger has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve various heart disease risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes.
- Ginger can help treat chronic indigestion – Ginger appears to speed up emptying of the stomach, which can be beneficial for people with indigestion and related stomach discomfort.
- Ginger powder may significantly reduce menstrual pain – Ginger appears to be very effective against menstrual pain when taken at the beginning of the menstrual period.
- Ginger may lower cholesterol levels – There is some evidence, in both animals and humans, that ginger can lead to significant reductions in LDL cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels.
- Ginger contains a substance that may help prevent cancer – Ginger contains a substance called 6-gingerol, which may have protective effects against cancer. However, this needs to be studied a lot more.
- Ginger may improve brain function and protect against Alzheimer’s disease – Studies suggest that ginger can protect against age-related damage to the brain. It can also improve brain function in elderly women.
- The active ingredient in ginger can help fight infections – Gingerol, the bioactive substance in fresh ginger, can help lower the risk of infections. In fact, ginger extract can inhibit the growth of many different types of bacteria. It is very effective against the oral bacteria linked to inflammatory diseases in the gums, such as gingivitis and periodontitis. Fresh ginger may also be effective against the RSV virus, a common cause of respiratory infections
GINGER SIDE EFFECTS
Some people can have mild side effects including heartburn, diarrhea, and general stomach discomfort. Some women have reported extra menstrual bleeding while taking ginger. Ginger is possibly safe when it is applied to the skin appropriately, short-term. It might cause irritation on the skin for some people. It is possible to be sensitive to ginger and have a reaction to it if the:
- Ginger seems to have little or no side-effects but may aggravate acid reflux in some individuals.
- Ginger may affect blood clots, so it should not be taken at the same time as blood thinner medications.
- The effects of long-term supplementation of ginger remain to be determined.
- Ginger contains actives that suppress human cytochrome P450 activity, so it may interact with drugs that are metabolized by cytochrome P450 enzymes.
Large doses of ginger may cause sleepiness and minor sedation, according to MedlinePlus. Ginger may increase the risk of bleeding so if you have a bleeding disorder, you should avoid eating large amounts of it or taking supplements. Ginger may also lower your blood sugar, which could cause problems if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia. Eating large amounts of ginger, or taking high dose supplements, might make some heart conditions worse so avoid ginger if you have heart disease. As well, if you take warfarin or other blood thinners, you should limit the ginger you eat since high consumption could interfere with your medication.
Fish Stew with Ginger and Tomatoes
- 4 small (15 ounces, 443 g) red potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 can (14 to 16 ounces, 400 to 453 g) diced tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 3 cups (700 ml) chicken stock
- 2 pounds (.90 kg) boneless firm-fleshed white fish, such as haddock, halibut, hake, flounder, pollock, whiting, or other local fish (it’s okay if the skin is still on)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Prepare the potatoes: Without peeling, slice the potatoes into 1/4-inch rounds. Steam them over boiling water in a vegetable steamer, tightly covered, for 10 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.
- Make the tomato sauce: Meanwhile, In a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium heat, heat the oil and add the ginger, garlic, tomatoes and their liquid, sugar, salt, black pepper, and red pepper. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the flavors mellow.
Add the potatoes and return the sauce to a boil. Simmer 2 minutes
- Add the fish: Cut the fillets into 3-inch pieces. Add them to the sauce and press them down into the pan to submerge them in the liquid. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with the tip of a knife.
- Serve: Taste for seasoning and add more salt and black pepper, if you like. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.
Chicken Soup with Ginger and Shiitake Mushrooms Recipe
- 1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms (dried is much preferable to fresh in this recipe)
- 3 cups boiling water
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, preferably bone-in, cut into chunks
- A 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced very thin
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce (use gluten-free soy sauce for gluten-free version)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Soak dried mushrooms: Soak the dried mushrooms in the hot water for 20 minutes. Use a bowl or a smaller pot to keep the mushrooms submerged in the water.
- Marinate chicken: While the mushrooms are soaking, mix the soy, sugar, salt and cornstarch in a large bowl. Make sure there are no cornstarch lumps. Add the chicken and ginger to the bowl, toss to coat with the marinade, and set aside.
- Slice mushrooms, add to chicken: When the mushrooms have softened, remove from the water (saving the soaking liquid) and slice thin. Add the mushrooms into the bowl with the chicken. If the soaking water has grit in it, pour the soaking water though a fine-meshed sieve lined with a paper towel into another bowl.
- Cook chicken, mushrooms with mushroom soaking water: Put the chicken mushroom mixture, and the mushroom soaking liquid into a pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a bare simmer, cover the pot and cook gently for 25 minutes. Serve hot.
Pork Chops with Ginger Pear Sauce Recipe
- 4 pork chops
- 2 Tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup minced shallots
- 2 Tbsp minced ginger
- 1 large pear (anjou, bartlett, or bosc), peeled and diced
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 3 Tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Salt the pork chops and score the fat: Salt the pork chops well and let them sit at room temperature while you chop all the vegetables and the pear.
Make a few cuts in the outer fat layer of the pork chops, all the way through to the meat, to prevent them from curling up when you cook them. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering.
- Sear the chops: Working in batches as to not crowd the pan, when the oil is hot, pat the pork chops dry with paper towels and lay them in the pan. Sear the chops until nicely browned, about 3-5 minutes depending on how hot your burner is. Burn the pork chops over and sear on the other side for a minute or two.
Then lower the heat and cook until done, 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chops. Remember you no longer need to cook pork well done. The recommended minimum temperature for cooked pork is now 145°F in the U.S. (Use the finger test for meat if you don’t have a meat thermometer.)
When done, remove the pork chops from the pan to a plate to rest.
- Saute’ shallots, ginger in butter, then add pear: When the pork is done, remove all but 1 tablespoon of the oil from the pan. Add the butter, shallots and ginger and toss to combine.
- Add stock, vinegar, honey, reduce: Add the chicken stock, vinegar and honey and bring to a rolling boil. Boil vigorously until the liquid is reduced by 2/3, about 4-6 minutes.
Turn off the heat and add the rosemary and some black pepper. Add salt to taste.
Serve the pork chops with the sauce on the side.
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