Ginger (Zingiber officinale) belongs to a large family of herbs. Which includes cardamom, turmeric, and other ginger-like tuberous herbs. Its common name came from Middle English gingivere meaning “horn root” because of the shape of the plant’s tubers. This arose from Greek, Latin, and even Sanskrit origins. This reflects how well known and used ginger had been since ancient times.
The spice gained medicinal importance during the times of the ancient Egyptians and the Romans. Healers in India and China used it as a tonic and medicine for various disorders. During medieval times it was expensive – one pound of the root was worth one sheep.
The plant is a perennial herb. Every year, a new shoot can grow from a separate tuber. The roots were used either fresh, dried or processed into powder. The essential oils in the ginger root increase as the plant matures. Ginger is not easy to consume in large servings. So you should use it as a spice in other dishes.
The Health Benefits of Ginger
The table below summarizes the content of nutrients in ginger. The table lists the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for each respective nutrient as well. Ginger is most significant in providing the RDA for minerals like magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium. For the vitamins it supplies to the body, vitamin B-6 is the most significant. It also provides substantial quantities of vitamin C and niacin.
|Nutrient||Unit||Per 100 grams||% RDA||1 tsp = 2.0g||% RDA|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||0.75||0.97||0.01||0.013|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||17.77||7.1||0.36||0.14|
|Total Dietary Fiber||g||2||6.67||0||0|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||5||5.56||0.1||0.11|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||mg||0.26||1.73||0.01||0.067|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||g||0.154||0.81||0.003||0.016|
Ginger health impacts include:
- Many diseases happen due to long-term free-radical damage, causing inflammation and pain. These diseases include impaired brain, heart, muscle, immune functions, and even cancer. Ginger contains powerful antioxidants which eliminate harmful free radicals that cause inflammation. It helps the body’s own glutathione to detoxify free radicals.
- Many chemical substances in ginger improve arthritis. One research observed significant improvement in joint swelling caused by severe chronic adjuvant arthritis.
- Lab studies have shown that ginger compounds suppressed the growth and spread of cancerous cells. In some, these compounds killed the cancer cells by largely stopping their ability to divide.
- Ginger has been used to counteract nausea and related symptoms like those suffered during seasickness and pregnancy. One study showed that ginger extract stop contractions of the stomach when vomiting. Current status of researches shows the ginger potential to reduce nausea. That happens after surgery or during chemotherapy.
- Experiments using ginger extract have shown it may reduce loss of memory. These chemical compounds could treat degenerative diseases of the nervous system, like dementia and Alzheimer’s. This is most probably caused by the herb’s antioxidant effects. Experiments show ginger could also improve the functioning of important enzymes in nervous tissues, including the brain.
- Ginger can fight off bacterial and fungal infections. The herb is comparable and even superior to those antimicrobial drugs. Ginger can kill bacteria and fungi. Even those became resistant to antibiotics and anti-fungal medicine.
- Experiments show that ginger reduces levels of lipids and sugar in the blood. Ginger has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. So it may help prevent and manage obesity and diabetes. Ginger can treat illnesses like heart disease as well.
Current Research on Phytochemicals Found in Ginger
Lab research had identified at least 115 chemical compounds from ginger. In both fresh and dried forms. These are the top most phytochemicals. Found in ginger in terms of concentration and medicinal importance:
Gingerols – are the most studied and named after the plant itself. Their chemical structure is closely related. The body uses its enzymes to change their structure into one another. Much of ginger’s medicinal benefits are due to this group. These group of chemicals have the highest concentrations in the fresh ginger. They decreases with drying, cooking, and processing of the plant.
Shogaols – are created by drying the ginger (for processing into powders, dried sweets and the like). So these 2 substances are closely related. They have shown biochemically similar health effects. Shogaol possesses the most powerful anti oxidant and anti inflammatory potential in ginger.
Zingerone – is produced when ginger is cooked or heated. So it is absent in fresh ones. It is responsible for the sweet taste and less pungent smell of cooked ginger. One study had given evidence of its antioxidant effect. It helped protect DNA from damage caused by toxic chemicals. Another experiment showed ginger’s ability to inhibit diarrhea resulting from bacterial infection.
The Medicinal Value of Ginger Leaves as a Source of Antioxidants
Whenever ginger is used as a cooking ingredient, what usually comes to mind is the rhizome or root. The use of leaves is mostly ignored. In nutritional and medicinal research – the leaves are seldom mentioned. Recent research, however, suggests that the leaves should have its due attention.
The leaves of a plant are above ground and exposed to the harsh elements of the environment. These includes the damaging radiation of the sun. To protect itself, the leaves of the plant produces antioxidants.
It has been assumed that these antioxidants are stored in the roots. A review of ginger researches showed that this is not the case. In about 26 species of ginger, the leaves were found to contain a lot more antioxidants than the roots. Antioxidants in ginger grown on high mountains (where solar radiation is higher) are the most concentrated.
So, we should consider eating leaves of ginger, turmeric, and other ‘root’ plants. Their leaves contain many beneficial compounds.
Why should I grow Ginger?
By growing ginger by yourself, you can know exactly how it is grown. (Some ginger powder in the marker are ‘diluted’).
You can harvest the freshest ginger from the planter whenever you want. Growing ginger in your home might be the only source of ginger leaves.
You can always cut ‘young’ crop. While commercial ginger might be mature and woody.
Having ginger growing in your home, give you plenty of ginger. You can use it frequently.
Recipes using Turmeric
No, this does not refer to an insect. It is an age-old recipe for making a base ingredient with which to create natural homemade drinks or sodas. This fortifies ginger’s natural goodness by infusing it with beneficial bacteria and other probiotics during the fermentation process. You can then add this to ginger brews or other fruit-based drinks for added flavor and goodness. Once you are able to cook this up, the rest should be easier as you only have to keep the probiotic culture in the bug alive. You can do this by occasionally adding ingredients to maintain their growth.
3 cups water
3 tsp. organic sugar (or brown sugar or honey if not available)
3 tsp. ginger diced
Additional sugar and ginger for maintenance
- Find a clean and dry glass jar with a resealable. Combine all ingredients in it. Seal the jar and shake to further mix the ingredients.
- Let stand in a warm area for about 24 hours to begin the fermentation (If you live in a cold area, the space beside the room heater or behind a refrigerator would be good spots. But check that the bug container doesn’t get too hot so the culture doesn’t get killed).
- Check daily for about two weeks while adding about 2 teaspoons of sugar and ginger per day. At about this time, the liquid should begin to bubble. Once you see this and feel some air pressure at the top of the jar, then the bug should be ready for use.
- In order to maintain and keep the bug growing, you must keep adding the ingredients at the same proportions. Do this on each day if you need to keep using the bug. If you don’t, then you can give it a rest by putting it in the refrigerator. Then you only need to feed the bug just once a week. If you need to use it again, then reactivate it out of the refrigerator and feed it daily once more.
Homemade Ginger Ale Recipe
This recipe will provide you with a much better, all-natural option to the artificially flavored drink sold in supermarkets. It can be a welcome addition to your usual list of homemade herbal teas because of its zesty sweetness.
Old-fashioned ginger ale (or ginger beer) also promotes digestive health due to the beneficial probiotics and enzymes introduced during the fermentation process.
8 cups filtered or bottled water
1-2 inch piece fresh ginger root, minced or chopped finely
½ cup sugar (plain or dark brown)
2-3 tbsp molasses or honey (if using plain sugar for flavor and minerals)
½ tsp sea salt
½ cup fresh lemon or lime juice
½ cup homemade ginger bug
- You would need to make what is called a “wort” for the ginger ale. Combine 3 cups of water with the minced ginger root, sugar (with molasses or honey if needed), and salt in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for about five minutes. The mixture should start to give off its ginger scent.
- Remove from heat and cool by adding water. Leave in room temperature.
Add the lemon or lime juice. Making sure that it is cool enough, mix in the ginger bug.
Pour into a resealable glass jar and stir well. Seal the jar and leave for 2-3 days.
- Keep watch for bubbles to appear. If the lid is removed, bubbles should fizzle like a soda.
This process could be faster during warmer weather. It may need to be stirred and “burped” from time to time. And then it should be ready.
- Keep in refrigerator to prolong shelf life. Strain before drinking.
Tinolang Manok (Chicken in ginger broth)
This is a very popular Filipino dish due to tasty high-nutrition the chicken meat provides and the warmth brought by the ginger-spiced soup.
2 lbs. chicken cut into serving pieces
3 thumbs ginger
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup hot pepper leaves (spinach or mustard if not available)
1 pc. small unripe papaya wedged (or chayote if not available)
8 cups water
1 medium yellow onion sliced
4 cloves garlic crushed and chopped
1-2 tbsp salt
3 tbsp vegetable oil
- After heating the oil in a pot. Sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger. Add the ground black pepper.
- Add the chicken when the onion softens. Cook for 5 minutes or until it is light brown.
- Add the water and let boil. Cover and set to low heat for 40 minutes.
- Put in the hot pepper leaves (or mustard or spinach). Add the salt. Continue to cook for 2 minutes. When done, transfer to a serving bowl. Serve on its own or with rice.
Growing Ginger hydroponically in condo-farm
Ginger is a summer planet. Winter frost can kill it. So, its growing season is spring to autumn. In winter, take out the ginger. Store its root in a dark place, where it is not expected to freeze.
The sowing is simple. Take a ginger root, cut three small pieces from it. Fill the recycled cup with clay pellet to about half its height. Put the ginger roots in the cup and fill it with clay pellet. Place the cup within a planter. wait for about three weeks to see shoots.
When the leaves are big enough you can cut the upper third leaves and use them. Look at the cup from time to time. When you see that the root is big and space become ‘dense’ take the planet out, cut the new roots out and put the plant back in.
LXIV.—The pungent principles of ginger. Part I. A new ketone, zingerone (4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenylethyl methyl ketone) occurring in ginger.
Hiroshi Nomura, Chem. Soc., Trans., 1917,111, 769-776Antioxidant properties of ginger leaves: An overview. Free Radicals and Antioxidants.
Eric WC Chan, YY Lim, SK Wong Open Access. 1. 6–16. 10.5530/ax.2011.1.3.Zingerone Protects Against Stannous Chloride-Induced and Hydrogen Peroxide-Induced Oxidative DNA Damage In Vitro.
Iyappan RajanNithya NarayananRemitha RabindranP. R. JayasreeP. R. Manish KumarThe Amazing and Mighty Ginger
Ann M. Bode and Zigang Dong.Ginger and Its Bioactive Component Inhibit Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli Heat-Labile Enterotoxin-Induced Diarrhea in Mice
Jaw-Chyun Chen et al. 6-Shogaol induces apoptosis in human colorectal carcinoma cells via ROS production, caspase activation, and GADD 153 expression.
Pan,M.H. et al. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 May;52(5):527-37.Muscarinic, Ca(++) antagonist and specific butyrylcholinesterase inhibitory activity of dried ginger extract might explain its use in dementia.
Ghayur M.N. et al. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2008 Oct;60(10):1375-83.Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of ginger in gastrointestinal disorders.
Ghayur MN, Gilani AH. Dig Dis Sci. 2005 Oct;50(10):1889-97.12 Major Benefits of Ginger for Body & BrainAntibacterial effect of Allium sativum cloves and Zingiber officinale rhizomes against multiple-drug resistant clinical pathogens.
Ponmurugan Karuppiah and Shyamkumar Rajaram Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2012 Aug; 2(8): 597–601.Survey of the Antibiofilm and Antimicrobial Effects of Zingiber officinale (in Vitro Study).
Aghazadeh M. Jundishapur J Microbiol. 2016 Feb 7;9(2)
Inhibition of acetylcholinesterase activities and some pro-oxidant induced lipid peroxidation in rat brain by two varieties of ginger (Zingiber officinale). Oboh G, Ademiluyi AO, Akinyemi AJ.
Investigation of the effect of ginger on the lipid levels. A double blind controlled clinical trial.
Alizadeh-Navaei R, Roozbeh F, Saravi M, Pouramir M, Jalali F, Moghadamnia AA. Saudi Med J. 2008
The Effects of Ginger on Fasting Blood Sugar, Hemoglobin A1c, Apolipoprotein B, Apolipoprotein A-I and Malondialdehyde in Type 2 Diabetic Patients. Nafiseh Khandouzi et al.
Gingerenone A, a polyphenol present in ginger, suppresses obesity and adipose tissue inflammation in high-fat diet-fed mice. Sujin Suk et al.
Recipe: Ginger Bug.
Recipe: Natural Ginger Ale.
Recipe: Asian Ginger Broth.
Recipe: Classic Tinolang Manok.