Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root or simply ginger, is widely used as a spice or a folk medicine.
The history of Ginger goes back over 5000 years when the Indians and ancient Chinese considered it a tonic root for all ailments. While Ginger originated in Southeast Asia, it has a long history of being cultivated in other countries. At an early date it was exported to Ancient Rome from India along the Spice Route. It was used extensively by the Romans, but almost disappeared from the pantry when the Roman Empire fell. After the end of the Roman Empire, the Arabs took control of the spice trade from the east. Ginger became quite costly like many other spices. In medieval times it was commonly imported in a preserved form and used to make sweets.
It is only in recent years that ginger has become more valued as a spice than for it’s medicinal properties. Even so, in western countries it has been used to add taste to buttermilk drinks as far back as the 11th Century AD. Widespread use in foods did not occur until roughly 200 years later when ginger was used in cooking meats and in ginger pastes. It is said the Queen Elizabeth I of England invented the gingerbread man, which became a popular Christmas treat.
Ginger has been a staple of much of Dr Red's early product development. Dr Red started in 2004 with a Sparkling Ginger Juice which continued to be sold out as soon as soon as each batch was made. Dr Red Ginger Liqueur, a spicy alcoholic version of the sparkling product developed a strong following. With the move into research areas, we developed our much loved Ginger Punch collection. With the simple extraction processes and combining the extract with other extracted ingredients led to our first scientifically recorded results in the area of health.
Over the years, we continue to source our raw ginger from local South East Queensland growers. Once juiced and pressed, it goes into to make the Ginger Punch, Immune Formula and the Prostate Formula whilst the "waste" fibres are extracted to become part of the Ginger Liqueur. Development is currently underway on a Ginger Chai tea with the Aged French Oak extract to be released in the coming months.
The leafy stems of ginger grow about a metre high. The leaves are 15 to 30 cm long, elongate, alternate in two vertical rows, and arise from sheaths enwrapping the stem. The flowers are in dense, conelike spikes about 2 cm thick and 4 to 6 cm long composed of overlapping green bracts, which may be edged with yellow. Each bract encloses a single, small, yellow-green and purple flower.
Ginger is propagated by planting rootstalk cuttings and has been under this type of cultivation for so long that it no longer goes to seed. Harvesting is done simply by lifting the rhizomes from the soil, cleansing them, and drying them in the sun. The dried ginger rhizomes are irregular in shape, branched or palmate. Their colour varies from dark yellow through light brown to pale buff. Ginger may be unscraped; partly scraped; or scraped or peeled.
Research into Ginger has spanned many years and countries. A Google search alone will give you 1.6 million hits into Ginger research. In the article , Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence by Mashhadi. et. al, published in 2013 in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine we find have a review of some of the research.
The health-promoting perspective of ginger is attributed to its rich phytochemistry. Jolad et al. grouped fresh ginger into two wide range categories, i.e. volatiles and non-volatiles. Volatiles include sesquiterpene and monoterpenoid hydrocarbons providing the distinct aroma and taste of ginger. On the contrary, non-volatile pungent compounds include gingerols, shogaols, paradols, and zinger one.
Ginger has staring potential for treating a number of ailments including degenerative disorders (arthritis and rheumatism), digestive health (indigestion, constipation and ulcer), cardiovascular disorders (atherosclerosis and hypertension), vomiting, diabetes mellitus, and cancer. It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties for controlling the process of aging. Furthermore, it has antimicrobial potential as well which can help in treating infectious diseases. Generation of free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS) during metabolism beyond the antioxidant capacity of a biological system results in oxidative stress, which plays an essential role in heart diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, and in the aging process. The bioactive molecules of ginger like gingerols have shown antioxidant activity in various modules.
Inflammatory disorders such as gastritis, esophagitis, and hepatitis, which are caused not only by infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites but also by physical and chemical agents like heat, acid, cigarette smoke, and foreign bodies, are recognized as risk factors for human cancer. Ginger consumption before exercise might reduce naturally occurring quadriceps muscle pain during moderate-intensity cycling exercise. This effect may be due to anti-inflammatory effect of ginger and further investigation need to prove it in human.
As with any scientific research, traditional use and evidence based research is important to be considered when looking at these age old plants. Ginger does have some contraindications with prescribed medicines of today and we always recommend that your health care professional should be consulted if you are taking prescription medicines.
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