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Ayurvedic Herbs and their Healing Power - Ginger (zingiber officinalis)

Posted by Elizebath Bijoy Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Article by: Dr. Satish Kulkarni

Ginger is also known by the colloquial names zingiber adrak or aale, while its botanical name being Zingiber officinale. Ginger is a perennial herb. It has irregular, underground, branched stems, which are juicy, shiny, yellowish, with threads inside, unevenly thick and tough. It has a characteristic fragrance when shredded or cut. It can be used in fresh or dried form. Fresh ginger called adrak and dried ginger is soonth.

Ginger is known for its medicinal properties from ages and has being in use as a medicine in India, China and Far East since long. Ayurvedic scholars use ginger in carminative and anti-flatulent mixtures. It is routinely used in Indian recipes as a spice where it serves both flavoring as well as medicinal purposes. It is a common constituent of Indian curries. Ginger was known to European countries since the first century A.D. and was in use in Europe since then. The Western world has also accepted ginger in their cookery in the form of gingerbreads, biscuits, soups and pickles.>

Ginger has major role in treatment of dyspepsia i.e. indigestion, tastelessness, loss of appetite, distension of abdomen i.e. flatulence, intestinal and biliary colics, nausea, vomiting etc. A small piece of fresh ginger with salt/rock salt (saindhav) sprinkled on it, if eaten prior to meal helps in digestion and assimilation of food. Shredded fresh ginger mixed with lemon juice and honey is a famous combination used in digestive tract problems especially in nausea and vomiting. Dried ginger (soonth) in powdered form combined with Piper longum (pippali) and Piper Nigrum (kali miri) is called Trikatu and works well on digestive tract in general. It is said that, this combination has some anti allergic properties also which can be used in drug and food intolerance.>

Dried ginger is an effective remedy for acute/chronic cough, common cold and fever. Here it helps in digesting ama (accumulated toxins in body, which are a cause of these troubles). A decoction or herbal tea prepared from ginger works excellent in catarrhal infections like allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, acute and chronic bronchitis where accumulated secretions is the irritating factor. Herbal tea prepared out of fresh/dried ginger also gives prophylaxis from respiratory troubles in cold weather and seasons. In influenza and other viral fevers, decoction or herbal tea induces sweating and reduces fever. Here it serves the purpose of diaphoretic mixture.>

According to the Sanhitas (original ayurvedic texts), ginger has some aphrodisiac properties also. Ginger added to chicken or mutton soups or taken with half boiled egg is recommended in sexual problems like impotency, premature ejaculation, spermaturia i.e. semen discharged with urine and spermatorrhea i.e. involuntary loss of semen without orgasm. Asava (medicinal wine) prepared from ginger and other supportive medicines helps in toning of muscles of genitalia.>

Ginger is a proven remedy in menstrual disorders also. A decoction of ginger is to be taken regularly for 6 to 12 consecutive cycles helps in correcting problems like irregular menstruation, menorrhalgia i.e. painful menstruation, menostasis i.e. suppression of menses.

Ginger is known for its pain killing properties also. It is used in all types of pain, internally or externally. In headache, backache or any kind of muscular catch ginger can be applied externally where it works as a counterirritant and helps in relieving pain. In toothache it is pressed against painful tooth, gum and the juice helps in relieving pain and swelling.

To summarize; ginger is a very common medicinal herb, which has place in kitchen as well as medicinal cupboard. It is commonly used in digestive disorders like dyspepsia and flatulence, respiratory troubles like cough and cold, painful conditions like headache, toothache and muscular spasms. It also has proved its role in conditions like impotency and menstrual disorders. 


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