Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Main Facts about Ginger
Ginger is a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root or simply ginger, is widely used as a spice or a medicine. It is a perennial reed-like plant with annual leafy stems, about a meter (3 to 4 feet) tall. The flesh of the ginger rhizome can be yellow, white or red in color, depending upon the variety. It is covered with a brownish skin that may either be thick or thin, depending upon whether the plant was harvested when it was mature or young. Ginger produces clusters of white and pink flower buds that bloom into yellow flowers
Using GingerHistorically, ginger has a long tradition of being very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. It has been used for flatulence and to relax and sooth the intestinal tract. Ginger is very effective in preventing the symptoms of motion sickness, especially seasickness. Ginger reduces all symptoms associated with motion sickness including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating. It can be also used to reduce the symptoms of morning sickness during pregnancy. Unlike many antivomiting drugs, ginger is safe and only a small dose is needed. Ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These substances are believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly. Ginger promote healthy sweating, which is often helpful during colds and flus. A few preliminary studies suggest that ginger may lower cholesterol and help prevent blood from clotting. That can help treat heart disease, where blood vessels can become blocked and lead to heart attack or stroke. But more studies are needed to know whether ginger is safe or effective for heart disease
Caution!Ginger may exacerbate symptoms of acid reflux in some people. Do not take ginger if you have a bleeding disorder or if you are taking blood-thinning medications, including aspirin. Ginger may interact with blood-thinning medications, diabetes medications, and high blood pressure medications.
Cooking with GingerFlower petals and tender young shoots may be eaten raw or cooked. Whenever possible, choose fresh ginger over the dried form of the spice since it is not only superior in flavor but contains higher levels of gingerol as well as ginger's active protease (it's anti-inflammatory compound). To remove the skin from fresh mature ginger, peel with a paring knife. The ginger can then be sliced, minced or julienned.
How to grow GingerGinger loves a sheltered spot, filtered sunlight, warm weather, humidity, and rich, moist soil. The best planting time is late winter/early spring. Make sure you select a spot where the plants get plenty of light but no direct sun, and where they are protected from wind. Ginger plants take 10 months to mature. Once the ginger root is planted, water it thoroughly. In a week or two you will see the leaves of the ginger plant emerge. Once the leaves emerge, water sparingly, but when you water the ginger root plant, water it deeply. The leaves on the ginger plant will get to be up to 4 feet tall. If you live in an area where ginger will not survive the winter, bring your ginger plant inside once night time temperatures dip below 50 F.