Ginger has so many incredible health benefits that it’s widely acclaimed as “the Universal Medicine” in the traditional healing system of Ayurveda. Fresh ginger and dried ginger have different health benefits, so read more to learn when to use each type of ginger.
When I started looking into natural remedies many decades ago, one of my first discoveries was that eating fresh ginger could eliminate nausea. I was so excited, because I can easily get carsick or seasick…. and taking medicine for it was just as nauseating!
So, with this natural remedy info, I learned to carry a bag of dried ginger with me whenever I traveled, and was happy to call ginger my newfound friend. Later, when I studied Ayurveda, I realized that ginger has so many additional benefits. I still love ginger! Ginger has remained one of my all time favorite remedies to have at hand for a variety of purposes.
What is Ginger?
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a not actually a root, but rather, is a rhizome – a fleshy, bulbous growth that shoots off from the roots of the leafy vertical ginger plant. Ginger is from the same family as turmeric, galangal and cardamom, which, not surprisingly, are also renowned for their many curative properties.
Ginger originated in Asia and then, due to its fantastic flavor and its healing constituents, made its way around the world… exported to the Pacific Islands, all the way to what is now known as Hawaii, over to India and from there, spread to Europe in the spice trade.
Ginger has been used as a “folk” medicine and culinary delight around the world for over 5,000 years. Despite its prominence in history, modern medicine still struggles to give a definitive on the medicinal value of ginger, stating that most claims about ginger are merely anecdotal and experiential… as if thousands of years of corroborative experience is not reliable!
Well. I always say that thousands of years of history is worth more than a few hundred years of scientific experimentation… which is one reason why I rarely quote scientific studies in my articles. Also, at the Enchanted SpiceBox, we don’t condone animal testing for any reason… especially when there is so much anecdotal evidence about the benefits of foods like ginger!
So, I’ll go with ginger’s amazing history of healing that continues to be validated in people’s lives every day. It’s also not surprising that every culture throughout history has their own favorite recipes, formulas and uses for ginger. It is a prominent spice featured in Ayurveda, Unani and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) just to name a few.
Fresh Ginger Versus Dried Ginger
In Ayurveda, a distinction is made between the effects of fresh ginger and dried ginger, although both are beneficial to health, albeit in slightly different ways. Both forms of ginger are considered warming to the body, but dried ginger is more heating.
Through the drying process, ginger’s main volatile oil, gingerol, is transformed into another phytochemical (plant chemical) known as shogaol. The drying process renders dried ginger more spicy and saogaol is more potent for some health benefits.
Fresh ginger is moistening and warming, which in Ayurveda, means that it is most often prescribed for those with Vata constitution. Vata constitutions tend towards imbalances of lightness and dryness, such as dry skin, constipation and gas.
Dried ginger is hotter and more drying. That means it’s better for regulating Kapha imbalances. Kapha imbalances result in heaviness and excess moisture, such as mucous/phlegm, and slowness to lose weight.
That said, with its many bioavailable natural phytochemicals, ginger has numerous health benefits (in addition to relieving travel nausea) such as:
- Reduces nausea and vomiting from pregnancy and also from chemical therapies that are known to cause nausea, such as chemotherapy and HIV therapy
- Helps digestion, aids nutrient assimilation, relieves bloating and gas
- Aids weight loss
- Boosts circulation, may lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots
- Helps the heart to beat more effectively, anti-hypertensive
- Is Antiviral, helps to prevent and treat colds & flu and boosts immunity
- Is anti-inflammatory, reducing heart inflammation and relieving body pain such as with arthritis, and also helps to dispel migraine pain
- Promotes oral health
- Clears the body of toxins and may suppress cancer cell growth
How To Use Ginger For Health
For medicinal purposes such as those mentioned above, there are numerous ways to add ginger to your diet and daily health care program. Ginger tea, especially with lemon is a favorite around the world. It’s always a soothing and healthy drink. Many drink it regularly to relieve inflammation (pain) and to relieve nausea.
For helping digestion, Ayurveda recommends taking a little fresh ginger digestive shot before meals – it’s easy!
All you have to do is chop, mash or grate a small piece of peeled fresh ginger (I use a 1/2″ chunk) and place the ginger into the bottom of a small cup or shot glass. Add two teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, one tablespoon of water and a couple of pinches of sea salt or, as I do, Himalayan mineral salt. Stir together and let the digestive ingredients fuse for at least fifteen minutes.
You can take this digestive right before any meal to help get your digestive juices flowing. This will assist in food assimilation.
After taking the digestive, you’ll have all those chunks of ginger sitting at the bottom of the cup…don’t throw them away! You can chew on the ginger a little bit at a time whenever you feel hungry. Ginger is always beneficial!is
Adding some fresh ginger to your meals via cooking is an easy way to get some ginger benefits… many international recipes, especially those from a wide variety of Asian countries, call for fresh ginger. I cook a lot with ginger, so you can find fresh ginger, dried ginger, even candied ginger, in lots of my recipes, such as the these:
You can see that I love ginger in any form!
If you want to take ginger as a supplement, the most convenient way to take ginger for nausea, digestion and other health issues, is to take dried ginger capsules. They’re portable and easy to use. Paradise Herbs has a nice dried ginger capsule ✓ with no additional additives. Their products are tested to be free of pesticides, and they always use wild crafted or organic material when available.
If you are really into ginger and want to take it often, you can cook with dried ginger, too. Dried ginger features in numerous baked goods (especially around the holidays). You can also use dried ginger to make ginger tea or as an ingredient in spiced tea or coffee. Although you can buy ginger tea bags, if you’re going to be using a lot of dried ginger, it’s most economical to buy it in bulk. We have used bulk spices like dried ginger from Frontier Co-op ✓ for years and are always impressed with the quality of their products.
Ginger is truly the “Universal Medicine” that will benefit anyone and will relieve numerous health complaints. If there is one condiment that you turn to regularly,not only for flavor, but for its impressive health benefits, it should be ginger! Fresh or dried, ginger is your friend!
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