Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ginger - Zingiber Officinale - Halia (Medicinal Herbs)

The Latin name Zingiber is derived from the Sanskrit word, shringavera, which means "shaped like a deer's antlers." The word ginger evolved in English from the Latin zingiber as "gingifer" and "gingivere."

Ginger is the common name for the monocotyledonous perennial plant Zingiber officinale. The term is also used to describe the edible part of the plant which is commonly used as a spice in cooking throughout the world. Often erroneously referred to as "ginger root", the edible section is actually the horizontal subterranean stem or rhizome of the plant. The ginger plant has a long history of cultivation known to originate in China and then spread to India, Southeast Asia, West Africa, and the Caribbean.

Ginger contains up to 3% of an essential oil that causes the fragrance of the spice. The pungent taste of ginger is due to nonvolatile phenylpropanoid-derived compounds, particularly gingerols and shogaols. The latter are formed from the former when ginger is dried or cooked. Zingerone is also produced from gingerols during this process, and it is less pungent and has a spicy-sweet aroma.

Ginger has a sialagogue action, stimulating the production of saliva.



Medical uses

The medical form of ginger historically was called "Jamaica ginger"; it was classified as a stimulant and carminative, and used frequently for dyspepsia and colic. It was also frequently employed to disguise the taste of medicines. Ginger is on the FDA's 'generally recognized as safe' list, though it does interact with some medications, including warfarin. Ginger is contraindicated in people suffering from gallstones as the herb promotes the release of bile from the gallbladder. Ginger may also decrease joint pain from arthritis, though studies on this have been inconsistent, and may have blood thinning and cholesterol lowering properties that may make it useful for treating heart disease.

The characteristic odor and flavor of ginger root is caused by a mixture of zingerone, shoagoles and gingerols, volatile oils that compose about one to three percent of the weight of fresh ginger. In laboratory animals, the gingerols increase the motility of the gastrointestinal tract and have analgesic, sedative, antipyretic and antibacterial properties.

Reactions or side effects

Allergic reactions to ginger generally result in a rash and though generally recognized as safe, ginger can cause heartburn, bloating, gas, belching and nausea, particularly if taken in powdered form. Unchewed fresh ginger may result in intestinal blockage, and individuals who have had ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease or blocked intestines may react badly to large quantities of fresh ginger. Ginger can also adversely affect individuals with gallstones. There are also suggestions that ginger may affect blood pressure, clotting, and heart rhythms.

Technorati Tags: Ginger, Zingiber Officinale, Halia

2 comments:

shirley January 31, 2008 at 9:31 AM  

I drink ginger tea for an upset stomach. It really works! Thanks for such a great blog full of information! Keep up the great work!

wildcatsthree January 31, 2008 at 1:17 PM  

A lot of good useful info here. Thanks

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