Saturday, September 8, 2012

Native Plant Medicine: Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Native Plant Medicine: Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

In the realm of the West medicine, the Cherokee were well known for their stories coming from a time when animals and plants could talk to humans and in the ways of a right relationship and reverence. One elder was noted as saying,
"Food was sacred. It was as much medicine as it was sustenance."
This is easy to recognize when learning about the Ginger plant in the genus specified ( Zingiber officinale ). Ginger is well known as a solution to acid reflux and heartburn, while also:
"being a treatment for heartburn, the health benefits of ginger are more than abundant, with the spice also being antibacterial, antiviral, and has antiparasitic properties. It’s been found to kill cancer cells more effectively than often harmful cancer drugs and even ease the common cough."
This amazing plant considered to have a rhizome is again absent primarily of having medicinal properties as suggested by Wikipedia, however according to G. T. Garrett and quoting above from his book, The Cherokee Herbal: Native Plant Medicine from the Four Directions," the following uses were mentioned:
"The primary use of ginger by the Cherokee is as a carminative or digestive aid. In earlier years it was also used as a stimulant and a tonic. Today it is used as a stimulant and a diuretic. Most people probably know ginger as a culinary herb and a remedy for motion sickness, but it is a powerful medicine in other ways. Ginger was used in several formulas that were referred to as "heal-all." It was used instead of capsicum for system cleansing by the Cherokee in swears and other ceremonies. It was used in a formula for easing the pain and swelling of arthritis. today it us used for treating bacterial infections and digestive problems.

This ginger is not to be confused with the wild ginger ( Asarum canadense ), sometimes called black snakeroot, colic root, or Indian ginger. Asarum gingers were used to treat irregular heartbeat and for general pain relief."
According to this author, the etymological origins are seemingly tied to the type of Zen in the root that is made to order.
"World-wide, ginger is among the most important and valued spices, as the many synonyms indicate. Today, the plant grows in tropic regions all over the world and plays part in the local cuisines. In Europe, however, it is not common, although it had been an important spice in Roman times (see silphion for more information about the taste of ancient Rome). Fresh ginger (also called green ginger) is now easily available in Western countries.

Many people like raw ginger, and it is particularly popular in China and other Far Eastern countries. Fresh ginger is grated or finely chopped, optionally soaked in water for several hours, and then added to the dish not long before serving. This kind of usage will result in a fresh, spicy and pungent taste which is best suited for salad-like preparations. Examples of this kind include Chinese salads made from boiled spinach (jiang-zhi bo-cai [姜汁菠菜]) or green beans (suan-rong jiang-dou 蒜蓉豇豆]), some Newari snacks in Nepal (see garlic for details) or the Japanese tofu salad hiya yakko [冷や奴, ひや やっこ] (see below).

If fresh ginger is cooked, it will increase in pungency but decrease in freshness. Thais add grated ginger together with many other ingredients (in the form of curry pastes) to their creamy coconut milk curries. Indonesians frequently use spice pastes based on fresh chiles and ginger to rub meat before grilling or baking (see lemon grass for a general discussion and lesser galangale for an example). Ginger tea, prepared by soaking slices of fresh ginger in black tea for a few minutes, is a spicy and healthy drink enjoyed in hot tropic climates (Indonesia), but also in the chill Himalayas (Sikkim); it may be also prepared without tea leaves, just by boiling crushed ginger in water.

On frying, the flavour of ginger changes dramati­cally; as such, it is pre­ferred in India and Sri Lanka: If chopped ginger is fried (typi­cally, together with garlic or onion), the hot and spicy taste gives way to a mellow, mild, rich flavour (see ajwain). Especially Northern Indian recipes make much use of this technique as the basis for delicious sauces to vegetable or meat dishes. During the often long cooking of these dishes, ginger blends very harmoniously with other flavours and becomes rather an unspecific background flavour.

In Chinese cookery, fresh ginger is both used boiled and fried. Food that needs a long simmering time is often flavoured with slices of ginger, because the slices release their flavour quite slowly (see orange for an example and see also cassia on Chinese master sauces). On the other hand, there are the so-called stir-fries (Chinese chao or chow []), which means that the food is cooked rapidly in very hot oil, with constant stirring; such recipes usually require finely cut or even grated ginger. In such short-fried dishes, ginger flavour remains discernible in the finished dish.

A great and well-known recipe of the latter kind is kung pao chicken, sys­temati­cally spelled gong bao ji ding [宫保雞丁]: Chop­ped chicken breast pre­viously mari­nated in soy sauce and rice wine are stir-fried in chile-flavoured oil together with a good amount of ginger and some garlic; the dish acquires a distinct character by addition of peanuts. With its liberal usage of chiles and fresh ginger, gong bao very well illustrates the cuisine of Sichuan, China’s most spicy cooking style; see chile for another example.

Ginger has its place even in the cuisine of Japan, where it is used in small quantities only; for example, chicken is flavoured by rubbing it with juice obtained from squeezing fresh ginger rhizome. A salad or appetizer called hiya yakko [冷や奴, ひや やっこ] consists of pieces of chilled bean curd (tōfu [豆腐, とうふ]) that has an custard-like, soft texture, which are dressed with grated fresh ginger, soy sauce and green scallion slices. Japanese cuisine has two different versions of pickled ginger: Beni shōga [紅生姜, 紅しょうが, べにしょうが] is made from fresh ginger cut to thin strips and a red pickling brine which owes its pink colour to perilla leaves; it is eaten as a condiment or relish to warm foods. Another type is gari [がり, ガリ] prepared from very young ginger rhizomes, which is either pale or slightly pink; is often served with sushi (see wasabi).

Ginger, being today grown as a cash crop in both Africa and Latin America, has entered many local cuisines. Some recipes for Jamaican jerk paste (see allspice) use ginger, which is not surprising since Jamaica’s ginger is of extraordinary quality."
In March of 2012, Anthony Gucciardi reported in an article that Ginger Reduces Tumors in Mice by 56%, and it seems this herbaceous plant has long been known as anti-inflammatory in nature.
"An outpatient cardiology clinic in an Israeli hospital now encourages all of their patients to take one-half teaspoon of ginger daily.  This is because ginger inhibits the same blood thickening enzyme as aspirin and does this naturally without the side effect of aspirin.    This “wonder drug” herb has an additional benefit to the circulatory system and is remarkable, even transcending the potential of many modern cardiovascular drugs.  With heart disease the #1 killer in America, is it any wonder that ginger is growing in popularity"
Amazingly, according to  Dr. Ch. Murali Manohar, MD, Ayurveda, Ginger possesses properties that deal with what he calls "aversion therapy,"and is a type of toner for the sexual centers. Another consensus exists here and points out the safety of use during pregnancy.

Also from Plant Cultures:
"Today the rhizomes are commonly used in Asian medicine to treat rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, sore throats, to improve circulation and reduce fat deposits in the arteries. Ayurvedic practitioners, use ginger rhizomes as a cure for cholera, anorexia and 'inflamed liver'."
Pubmed also vouches for the amazing properties of ginger in relation to inflammation and from the Segen's medical dictionary offered in the jamming of the bread.
"A deciduous plant rich in volatile oil with borneol, camphene, cineol, citral, gingerols, shogaols, zingerones—e.g., phenylalkylketones and phelandrene

Alternative nutrition Ginger is used as a digestive aid, to prevent nausea in motion sickness, morning sickness, or chemotherapy, and for heart disease—ginger reduces cholesterol; it may have some carcinopreventive activity. See Healthy foods, gan jiang

Chinese medicine The rhizomes are antiemetic, cardiotonic, carminative, rubifacient, and stimulate secretion; it is used topically for burns, internally for abdominal pain, colds, hypercholesterolaemia, dysmenorrhoea, Raynaud phenomenon, seafood intoxication, vomiting. See Chinese herbal medicine

Herbal medicine The root is used for arthritic pain, colds, coughs, earache, GI complaints, gout, headache, pancreatitis, hypertension, kidney conditions, menstrual cramping, sinusitis, thrombosis, vertigo. See Herbal medicine

Psychiatry Ginger may have an anxiolytic effect. See Anxiety"

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