Ginger is a perennial plant belongs to family of Zingiberaceae and mostly grown in tropical countries (United State, China and India) is a well-known herb from ancient times. Scientifically, ginger is known as Zingiber officinale, bearing green to purple flowers and aromatic root also referred as rhizome. The rhizome or ginger root is usually fibrous in structure with yellow or light pink in color. Whereas the skin of ginger root is brownish which can be soft or hard depending on its harvesting time.
Uses of ginger root
The ginger root is mainly used in Asian cuisine as a spice to add that peppery zesty flavour to all cooking dishes. The root can be used as fresh, dried, as powder or in oil form in cooking. Although it is mainly used as spice in food, it is also shown to possess number of medicinal and therapeutic properties and therefore was used in Indian and Chinese traditional medicines from ages. It was widely used as part of home remedy in alleviating various illness such as stomach ache, cough, cold, morning sickness, anorexia, gas problems, nausea and diarrhoea. Even though it was used from ancient times as herbal and Ayurvedic remedy mainly in getting relief from stomach related problems, now a days it has found its use in treatment of number of other diseases like upper respiratory tract infection, bronchitis, muscle soreness, lower back pain, chest pain and arthritis.
Constituents of Ginger root
Ginger is an herb which contain overall 80 calories per 100gm and is cholesterol free. It possess vitamins such as pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and is also good source of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper and magnesium. Whereas the spicy and aromatic flavour of ginger root is basically because of the presence of number of phenolic compounds and essential oil in it.
Medicinal properties of Ginger root
Researchers have reported that the major phenolic compounds found in ginger are gingerols and shogaols which gives ginger a pungent and spicy taste.
The major phenolic compounds present in ginger are believed to involve in chemopreventive effects (compound that interfere with disease process) of ginger and are also found to possess anti-oxidant properties (free-radical scavenger).
They are also involved in altering the gene expression and in induction of apoptosis (programmed cell death), which further helps to prevent tumor initiation, promotion and its progression and thus help in cancer prevention.
These phenolic compounds present in ginger root imparts it a chemotherapeutic properties which makes it an important medicinal herb in fighting against disease.
Gingerol and shogaols are also found to possess strong anti-oxidant properties where they act as scavenger in fighting against free radicals and thus protecting cell against damage and tumor formation.
The essential oil present in ginger oil are gingerol, zingerone, farnesene, b-phellandrene and citral that make ginger a good therapeutic agent.
Because of all these properties, ginger is found to be a powerful herbal home remedy used in every home from traditional time.