This week, we'll be exploring the spicy root of the ginger plant. The Latin name for this plant is Zingiber officinalis. It's other names include: African Ginger, Gan Jiang, Gingembre, Ginger Root, Imber, Jengibre, Jiang, Kankyo, and Sunthi
The Universtity of Maryland Medical Center writes that the use of ginger originated in China over 2,000 years ago. It was then exported to the Roman empire, where it became valued for its therapeutic as well as culinary properties. The name Ginger comes from Old French gingibre and means ”Spirit” or “Temper”.
Ginger is apart of the Zingberaccae family, to which it lends it's name, and is a relative of tumeric, cardamom, and galangal.
It is a perennial reed-like plant with annual leafy stems that grow between 3 – 4 feet tall. It produces clusters of white and pink flower buds that turn yellow as they bloom. The root of the ginger is a knotted, thick, beige underground tuber, called a rhizome, and this is what is used in both medicines and the culinary arts. Cultivation began in South Asia, and spread through East Africa and the Carrabean, though now ginger has found a place in millions of gardens around the world. Ginger grows best in warm climates with nutriant rich soil, and because of gingers aethetic appeal it is often used as in landscaping subtropical homes.
The main effects of ginger are to aid in soothing digestive disturbances, and helps speed up a slow digestive system. It helps relieve nasuea in basicly any situation where nasuea is present, and helps treat first and secod degree burns. It is good for arthritis, and boosts the immune system. As a heating herb, it is indicated for disorders due to cold conditions. It has a positive intropic effect on the heart, helping irraticate Fibrin that is desposited in tissues new varicose veins.
Ginger is taken in a veriaty of ways. Infusions / hot teas, powder, tintures, capsuls, and in foods. Ginger is great zest on creamy winter soups, it is also great with fish, and easy to incorperate in sweet foods.
Ailments which indicat treatment with ginger include: arthritis, morning sickness, nasuea, upset stomach, flatulance, slow digestive system, 1st and 2nd degree burns, nasuea from chemotherapy, sore throat, nose congestion, dizziness, muscle pain, enfluenza, loss of appitite, migranes, athsma, high blood pressure, dysmenorrhea, and motion sickness.
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and may interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.
It is okay, with first checking with your Doctor, to take ginger occassionally for morning sickness while pregnant. Check with your Doctor before consuming ginger while breast-feeding; if you are taking sedative medications; if you are diabetic; if you are taking a narcotic; or if you are going into surgery.
Latin Name: Zingiber officinalis
Medicinal Actions: Carminative, Decreases platelet aggregation, Antiatherosclerotic, Diaphoretic, Cardiotonic, Antipyretic, Antitussive, Expectorant, Stomachic, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Antispasmodic, Diuretic, Anti-emetic, Choleretic, Hypolipidemic, Analgesic, Antioxidant.
Indications: arthritis, morning sickness, nasuea, upset stomach, flatulance, slow digestive system, 1st and 2nd degree burns, nasuea from chemotherapy, sore throat, nose congestion, dizziness, muscle pain, enfluenza, loss of appitite, migranes, athsma, high blood pressure, dysmenorrhea, and motion sickness
Contraindications: While breast-feeding; concurrently with prescription drugs or psychiatric medications; going into surgery.
University Of Maryland Medical Center - Ginger
Worlds Healthiest Foods - Ginger
Ginger Bug Recipe – Make Your Own Soda!
- 1-2 fresh ginger roots
- ½ cup white sugar (important for starting the culture. Honey, stevia or other sweeteners will not work)
- 2 cups of water
- Quart size mason jar
- Cut a piece of ginger root about 1.5 inches long to make 2-3 tablespoons of grated ginger. You can also finely chop instead of grating. There is some debate about if it is better to peel the root or not. My genera rule is that non-organic ginger gets peeled and organic just gets rinsed before grating.
- Place the ginger in a quart size mason jar and add an equal amount of white sugar (2-3 tablespoons). Nourishing Traditions insists that white sugar is needed to create the bug and I’ve had the best success with this, but a local friend claims that unrefined sugar or sugar with 1 tsp of molasses added works better. Try what you have and adapt as needed.
- Add 2 cups of filtered water to the mason jar. Make sure that the water has been filtered so that it does not contain chlorine which can affect the culturing process.
- Stir with a non-metal spoon and lightly cover. I cover with a coffee filter and rubber band.
- Each day for the next five days, stir the mixture at least once and add 1 tablespoon of grated ginger root and 1 tablespoon of sugar. (note: depending on temperature, it may take up to eight days of adding sugar and ginger to create the desired culture).
- You can tell if culture is active if there are bubbles forming around the top of the mixture, it “fizzes” when stirred and it takes on a sweet and mildly yeasty smell. It will also become somewhat cloudy and opaque. If mold appears on the top, scrape it off if it can be removed. It this happens more than once, you will need to start again. If the mixture hasn’t taken on these characteristics by the 7-8th day, you need to discard it and start again.
- Keep the culture away from other cultures like sauerkraut and kombucha or it can cross culture.
- Once the ginger bug has cultured, it can be used to create fermented sodas and drinks at the ratio of ¼ cup ginger bug starter per quart of sweetened herbal mixtures (for ginger ale or root beer) or diluted fruit juice (for fruit flavored sodas).
- To keep the bug alive and continue growing it, you will need to feed it regularly. Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger and 1 teaspoon sugar per day if kept at room temperature. You can also “rest” it in the fridge and feed it 1 tablespoon each of ginger and sugar once a week. To reactivate it, remove and let it reach room temperature and begin feeding it again.