Ginger Root’s Evergreen Offering
Ginger root is originates in Asia where using it as a flavoring agent is a practice so ancient, that it even predates historical records. Medicinal uses by traditional Southeast Asian healers are traced back as far back as 5000 years ago, while the earliest written testimony to the use of ginger as a flavoring agent can be seen in the 4th century Hindu Mahabharata, an epic folk legend.
It is unclear where exactly the ginger root stems from but some suspect it may be India. The first western exposure to ginger root came in the 1st century AD when maritime spice trading brought it to the Mediterranean, and by the middle ages it was such a sough-after delicacy that a pound of ginger could buy you a whole sheep! By the 1600’s it had found its way to Africa and the Caribbean but today it has naturalized itself to such an extent through its prolific cultivation through the tropics, that it is now very much a part of these cultures.
Ginger Root Medicine in Ancient Times
Since ancient times the inherent “warming” qualities of Ginger have been recognized to hold great medicinal benefit and Ayurvedic healers from India have used the rhizome as a treatment for many ailments over the ages. Even today, these healers still use ginger it to treat:
- Rheumatoid arthritis,
- Sore throats,
- For improved blood-circulation
- Clearing arteries of fatty deposits
- Liver infections
It is interesting to note that, later on King Henry VIII recommended it to treat the plague in the 16th century.
Modern Medicine’s Take on Ginger
Modern medicine has proven ginger root to posses many healthy benefits. Research has found that it stimulates the heart and settles “queasy” stomachs and is frequently prescribed for morning sickness and to improve digestion. Its healing benefits are ascribed to active compounds in the rhizomes called gingerols and shogoals. These compounds react on stomach muscles and also help lower blood cholesterol.
These compounds also have cancer deterrent qualities and are known to minimize the risk of thrombosis. Another western use for ginger root is found in treating allergies as it provides an excellent, healthy alternative to using anti-histamines. Its “warming” qualities also go much further than simply negating the chilly grips of colds and influenza, as it is also used as a natural anti-depressant.