Fresh ginger root, also known as Sheng Jiang in mandarin, is definitely an important ingredient in cooking no matter it is steaming fish, preparing dishes, or making seasoning. The reason is so obvious – its characteristic spicy taste can not only help eliminate fishy smell and mutton odor, but also flavor the dishes with its own distinct zest. More importantly, it makes dishes become more delicious. No wonder it is so essential in cooking pork, beef, mutton, and other delicacies. The health benefits of ginger are numerous. In short, eating a few slices of ginger or adding a little bit of it in the dish can increase appetite; ginger-based soup plays an important role in the prevention and treatment of cold, enteritis, and stomach problems like stomach ulcers and deficiency-cold type gastritis. Given the fact that traditionally it is often used for nausea and vomiting, it also enjoys the reputation as “the panacea for habitual vomiter.”
What is fresh ginger root?
Medicinally it mainly refers to the fresh rhizome of Zingiber officinale Rosc. This is a plant in the family Zingiberaceae. In China, it is produced all over the country. It is usually harvested in autumn and winter. And the following steps are to remove fibrous roots and soil and slice.
Ginger is a perennial herb, 40 to 100cm in height. Fleshy roots are flat oval, crosswise, branched, and with aromatic and spicy scent. Alternate leaves are in 2 rows, sessile, and with a long clasping sheath; blade is linear-lanceolate, 15 to 20cm long, about 2cm wide, and with acuminate apex and narrow, smooth and hairless base; membranous ligule is 1 to 3mm long. Floral axis grows from the stems, about 20cm long; dense spica is oval, about 5cm, and 2.5cm wide; green and white bracts are oval, about 2.5cm long, and with hard, pointy apex and yellow edge in lower surface; tubular calyx is about 1cm long and with 3 short teeth; greenish-yellow corolla is with about 2cm tube and 3 lobes; stamens is slightly purple; glabrous ovary is glabrous, with 3 rooms, solitary style that held by the anthers. Capsules are 3-lobed and seeds are black. Flowering time is from July to August and fruit time is from December to next January. By the way, the cultivated is rarely flowering.
Fresh ginger contains volatile components, dozens of galanolactone, spicy ingredients, furanogermenone, pipecolic acid, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, serine, and other amino acids. The volatile components include α-zingiberene, β-santalol, β-phellandrene, β-bisabolene, α-curcumene, zingiberol, perillaldehyde, neral, geranial, 2-caraneol, camphene, β-ocimene, α-bergamotene, β-farnesene, myrcene, β-pinene, 2-borneol, citral, etc. And spicy ingredients include 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12-gingerol, 4, 6, 8, 10-gingediol, 6-methylgingediol, 4-gingediacetate, 6-methylgingediacetate, 6-dehydrogingerdiong, 6-acetylgingerol, 6-shogaol, and more.
Benefits of fresh ginger root
So, what is ginger good for? Is fresh ginger root good for you? As a matter of fact, it is warm in nature and its unique ingredient of gingerol can stimulate the gastrointestinal mucosa, congest the gastrointestinal tract, enhance digestion, and effectively cure bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting caused by excessively eating cold food. Eating ginger can make people feel hot. This is because it is able to dilate the blood vessels, speed up blood circulation, and promote the opening of body’s pores, which thus take the extra heat away along with bacteria and cold pathogen inside the body. In addition, cooking with fresh ginger root can promptly eliminate a variety of cold-heavy-body induced discomforts due to the influence of cold food, rain, or air-conditioner.
1) Inhibiting oxidation and tumor. It contains gingerols and diarylheptanoid structure, which have strong antioxidant, free radical scavenging, and tumor suppressor activities. As a result, it is anti-aging and can help the elderly get rid of age spots on face.
2) Whetting the appetite. In the hot summer people tend to eat less due to the reduced secretion of saliva and gastric juice. And eating a few slices of it before meals can stimulate the secretion of saliva and gastric and digestive juices, increases gastrointestinal motility, and thereby increase appetite.
3) Preventing sunstroke, cooling, and refreshing. Eating some ginger in summer days can help excite, sweat, cool, and refresh. Hence, appropriate fresh ginger root drink can be really helpful for general summer-heat symptoms, such as dizziness, palpitations, chest tightness, nausea and others.
4) Killing bacteria, detoxicating, reducing swelling, and relieving pain. Research found that it could play the role of some certain antibiotics, especially on Salmonella. Food is susceptible to bacterial contamination in hot temperatures. The bacteria grow rapidly and can cause acute gastroenteritis easily, which can be preventive and treatable by consuming moderate ginger. It is reported that ginger extract can significantly inhibit skin fungal, kill trichomonas vaginalis, and treat a variety of boils. In addition, using it as gargle can treat bad breath and periodontitis.
5) Preventing car sickness and stopping nausea and vomiting. It is reported that some “Sports maladjustment syndrome” can be relieved by eating ginger root. And studies have shown that the effective rate of its dried powder was 90 % in treatment of sports-induced headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms. And the efficacy can last more than 4 hours. In addition, eating it or sticking its paste on Neiguan point can prevent seasickness and carsickness.
6) Traditional Chinese medicine thinks that it is a Yang tonic. It’s just like the old saying goes: “a man cannot afford not to take ginger for 100 days.” And modern clinical pharmacology found that it is capable of speeding up the body’s metabolism, reducing inflammation, relieving pain, simultaneously exciting the function of human multiple systems, regulating the function of the male prostate, treating sexual dysfunction in middle and older men. Therefore, it is often used in male health.
Sample fresh ginger formulas on herbal remedies
The Chinese Materia Medica believes that it is acrid in flavor and warm in nature. It goes to meridians of lung, stomach, and spleen. Principal functions are dispelling cold to relieve exterior syndrome, calming the adverse-rising energy to arrest vomiting, and preventing phlegm from forming and stopping coughing. Main ginger root uses and indications include wind-cold cold, aversion to cold with fever, headache, stuffy nose, vomiting, cough or asthma due to phlegm and fluid retention, fullness, and diarrhea. Recommended fresh ginger root dosage is from 3 to 10 grams in decoction. And there are also many related choices, such as ginger root tea, extract, supplement, pills, capsules, candy, gingerbread cookies, cake, tincture, juice, and more.
1) Sheng Jiang Ban Xia Tang from Jin Gui Yao Lue (Essential Prescriptions of the Golden Coffer). It is coupled with Ban Xia (Pinellia) to treat retained fluid oppressing the chest causing asthma-like symptom that actually isn’t asthma, vomiting-like symptom that actually isn’t vomiting, hiccup-like symptom that actually isn’t hiccup, and an upset heart.
2) Xiao Ban Xia Tang from Essential Prescriptions of the Golden Coffer. It is joined with Pinellia to cure vomiting caused by phlegm and retained fluid.
3) San Ao Tang from Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang (Formulas of the Peaceful Benevolent Dispensary). It is formulated with Ma Huang (Ephedra) and Xing Ren (Apricot Seed) to heal pathogen of wind-cold invading lung, phlegm cough, chills, and headache.
4) Er Chen Tang from Formulas of the Peaceful Benevolent Dispensary. It is matched with Chen Pi (citrus peel), Pinellia, etc. to treat excessive phlegm but with no exterior pathogen.
5) Sheng Jiang Xie Xin Tang from Shang Han Lun (Treatise on Febrile Diseases Caused by Cold). It is combined with Gan Cao (Licorice Root), Ren shen (Ginseng), Gan Jiang (Dried Ginger Root), Huang Qin (Scutellaria), Pinellia, Huang Lian (Coptis Root), and Da Zao (Jujube fruit) to cure the binding of water and heat, disharmony of stomach, epigastric fullness and rigidity, belching with indigested food odor, thunderous rumbling in the abdomen, and diarrhea.
Clinical research of ginger roots
This herb can be used for many ailments like enuresis, scald, shoulder-hand syndrome, acute bacillary dysentery, ascariasis, facial paralysis, toothache, arthritis, seborrheic dermatitis, vitiligo, urinary retention after spinal anesthesia and epidural anesthesia, traumatic bloating, and more.
a) 25 cases of infantile enuresis have been treated with the combination of fresh ginger 30g, Pao Fu Zi (prepared aconite) 6g, Bu and Gu Zhi (Psoralea) 12g by applying to umbilicus. And the result was really good;
b) Fresh ginger slice sticking to Neiguan can prevent motion sickness;
c) Topical use of ginger juice can treat burns caused by fire or hot water no matter the blisters is broken or not.
Simple fresh ginger root recipes
If you don’t know how to prepare fresh ginger root, here are some simple but useful recipes for your reference.
1) Ginger lamb porridge
Ingredients: fresh ginger, lamb, rice, water, salt, chicken powder, and ground pepper
Directions: peel the ginger and cut into small dices, cut lamb into small pieces, wash rice with clean water, pick a clay pot and pour into right amount of water, heat it with high heat, add in rice after it is boiling, continue boiling with low heat for 20 minute, add in all above-mentioned ingredients, continue heating for another 30 minutes, and now it is ready to serve.
2) Sweet pear ginger soup
Ingredients: pear, ginger root, peppercorns, sugar, and honey
Directions: peel the pear and cut into even sections, peel the ginger and cut into thin slices, put ginger slices into the pot, cook for the soup, embed peppercorns into the chopped pear, put them into the cooked soup, add in sugar and honey, and boil them until they look transparent.
Ginger root side effects and contraindications
In terms of how to use fresh ginger root to maximize it advantages, here are some rules you should pay attention to.
1) Do not peel. Some people like to peel the ginger before cooking. But it is so wrong since by doing so it fails to make full use of its all health benefits. The right practice is to just shred it right after cleaning.
2) Long-term consumption is inadvisable in people suffering from fire excess from yin deficiency, red eyes due to internal heat, carbuncles and boils, pneumonia, lung abscess, tuberculosis, gastric ulcer, cholecystitis, pyelonephritis, diabetes, and hemorrhoids.
3) As for medicinal uses, ginger brown sugar soup can only apply to wind-cold cold or the patients with stomach cold and fever after caught in the rain. That’s to say, it cannot be used for summer-heat or wind-heat cold and heat stroke. In addition, fresh ginger juice treats only vomiting caused by exposure to cold but other types of vomiting.
4) Do not eat rotten ginger. Rotten ginger can produce a highly toxic substance that can cause degeneration and necrosis to the liver cell and induce liver cancer, esophageal cancer, and so on.
5) More is not necessarily better. This is a warm-natured herb. So, taking too much of it in hot summer weather is not suitable since it can aggravate dry mouth, thirst, sore throat, and sweating.
a) Jiang Su Zhong Yi Za Zhi (Jiang Su Journal of Chinese Medicine), 1984;(2):Inside Back Cover;
b) Da Zhong Yi Xue (Popular Medicine), 1980;(9):7;
c) Xin Zhong Yi (New Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine), 1984; (2): 22;