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Ginger has been called the miracle spice, the universal medicine, for all of the health benefits it contains.
Ginger is part of the family of rhizomes. A rhizome grown in a horizontal fashion underground, can shoot stalks out laterally, above ground from its nodes. The stalks of the ginger plant have green leaves and depending on the variety, may have flowers that are pink, red, or white.
A good time to plant ginger is spring when any danger of frost is gone.
If you rub your fingers on the leaves or roots, you can smell ginger’s familiar spicy scent.
Some insects thrive on ginger while other insects are attracted to ginger, to their detriment. Burning ginger can ward off mosquitos.
Ginger in All Its Forms
This subterranean substance can be processed into different forms such as fresh ginger root, cooked ginger, pickled ginger, crystalized ginger, oil of ginger, and dried ginger.
Each of these forms of ginger have some similarities but dried ginger is most heating and pungent. The pungency of dried ginger indicates that it also has a more drying effect than other forms of ginger. The process of drying ginger creates a chemical reaction that is responsible for increasing its heat and pungency.
Because ginger comes in different forms, confusion can arise around it because it is called by different names. Dried ginger is known as shunthi.
Dried ginger eradicates toxins and unhealthy fat, heats the body, absorbs excess fluids from the intestines, prevents and pacifies nausea, and aids in enkindling the digestive fire.
Practically speaking, it is indicated in conditions where a productive cough or cold is present. Many of us have taken to a cup of dried ginger tea with lemon or honey when feeling under the weather! Dried ginger can clear toxins from the body in an arthritic environment and clear phlegm from the lungs.
It is useful for morning sickness and motion sickness and in certain cardiac imbalances due to its ability to increase circulation and thin the blood.
It is present in traditional Ayurvedic herbal formulas such as triphala guggulu, yogaraj guggulu, and trikatu. Always consult with your Ayurvedic professional for herbal recommendations.
Dried ginger reduces kapha dosha (excess water and earth). It can reduce vata dosha (excess space and air) if used along with an unctuous substance like ghee, to balance out its pungency. Pitta dosha (excess fire) would be best served by taking a pass when it comes to dried ginger.
Since we know that dried ginger creates more heat and dryness, it makes sense to use it with caution in summer.
Those with imbalances that are exacerbated by excess heat would do well to use dried ginger more sparingly or in some situations, avoid it altogether.
When it comes to culinary uses, dried ginger is employed in many types of cuisine and especially popular in Ayurvedic and various Asian cuisines.
Generally speaking, ginger—vishwa bhesaj—is considered a universal medicine.