Vishwabhesaj, the universal medicine!
My early encounters of ginger used to be ‘adoo marcha’ paste which was added in cooking or a mixture of ginger and honey shoved down my throat when I had a cold or a cough. I never paid attention to ginger’s healing properties then. Until one day, I was crossing the English Channel to get to France from London. The sea was choppy and a lot of us were feeling terribly queasy and nausea. The ship crew handed over little pieces of ginger to the passengers. In no time, we actually felt better! Ever since then, I never forget to carry a little piece of ginger in my travel bag. Any sort of motion sickness disappears just by having a little antidote of ginger.
A chapter in the book “Yoga of herbs” opens with a quote: “Ginger is perhaps the best and most sattvic [life-supporting] of the spices. It was called vishwabhesaj, the universal medicine.” In Asian societies, ginger has always been known for its healing powers. Pythagoras too, was one of its greatest supporters in Ancient Greece. It is believed to have originated in India and then introduce to China. It is used as a spice and as a medicine from early times till today, especially in the East.
Well, it is not just motion sickness that ginger can help in, but also breathlessness due to congested nose or bronchitis or asthma – ginger juice is a sure shot remedy. Sip on it – either neat or diluted with water. If it is too strong for you then add a dash of lemon and half a teaspoon of organic honey. I cut thin slices and like a lozenges, I suck on it. It feels really good.
If you have overeaten, are gassy and have stomach problems – ginger juice or ginger tea will be lovely. Just boil some water with grated ginger and strain before drinking. No wonder ginger is put in most Indian cuisines to prevent indigestion. If you suffer from migraines or headaches consume ginger in some form every day. It prevents arthrital pain, excellent for joint pains – applying ginger juice or consuming ginger juice is beneficial.
• It helps to relieve nausea, morning sickness (during pregnancy) and motion sickness
• Helps to relieve menstrual cramps
• Produces marked relief in arthritis pain
• Improves conditions during asthma and migraines
• It has been used traditionally as a digestive aid. In many cultures, ginger is usually taken after meals to aid digestion. In colonial times, candied ginger was consumed after meals. It is hence, a healthier alternative to commercial sodas.
• Relieves common cold and cough
• It has been documented that ginger improves weight loss by calorie burning since it makes the tissues use more energy
• It is a relaxant and has properties that warm the entire body hence, making it useful during fevers, aches and colds
• Helps relieve morning sickness in pregnant women.
• A very powerful anti-oxidant, it prevents premature aging and degenerative diseases.
• Research at Cornell medical university has shown that it has an effect on blood clots that is similar to that of an aspirin. Hence, high cholesterol levels are lowered using the above findings.
• It has been known to play an effective role in cancer prevention.
Drawbacks: Candied ginger may irritate oral tissue and other mucous membranes. Also, it produces heat in the body hence can cause piles and hemorrhoids or could cause breaking out of acne. So drink a lot of water if you are consuming ginger and stop if any of these conditions occur.
(The writer is a Mumbai-based nutritionist, obesity and health consultant)