Ginger originated in Asia and now grows in several part of the world. The root of the plant is harvested for many culinary and medicinal uses. It can be used in many forms and is edible raw as well as cooked. One of the most common uses of ginger is to relieve nausea and other gastric ailments.
A flowering plant, it is actually the root of the ginger plant that is harvested. A single root can have many offshoots above ground. The portion of the plant above ground has slender stalks with long leaves that come to a point. The flowers grow in clusters and are green and purple. Ginger is a tropical plant that is found in the Caribbean, India, Southeast Asia, and West Africa. Though the full name is root ginger, it is usually just called ginger.
After being harvested, ginger can be prepared in many ways. It can be found in the produce section of most grocery stores as sections of raw root. This root can be grated, chopped, or sliced in order to be added as an ingredient in many dishes. Ginger can also be dried, either whole or sliced, with the skin on or peeled. Another common form ginger can be found in is ground into a fine powder that is light tan in color. The root can also be harvested early and then cooked and stored in a heavy syrup which yields a very pulpy, very spicy form. It can also be cooked in syrup, air dried, then rolled in sugar, which produces crystallized ginger. A common garnish and palate cleanser served with sushi is pickled ginger which is sliced thin and pickled in vinegar.
While ginger is well known as a remedy for nausea, it has many other medicinal applications. It has long been used to alleviate nausea due to both morning sickness and motion sickness, proving to be more effective than some medications for motion sickness without causing side effects such as drowsiness. Ginger can be used by expectant mothers to soothe nausea without adverse effects for the baby. It has also been used as a digestive aid due to its stimulation of both saliva and digestive fluids. Other gastric ailments it has been used to treat include indigestion and diarrhea. It is also an anti-inflammatory and can be used to treat ailments and conditions like arthritis, muscle spasms, and rheumatism. Ginger can also be used to rid the body of toxins because it stimulates blood circulation.
With its spicy flavor and appealing aroma, it is no wonder that ginger is prepared and enjoyed many different ways in many countries. It can be used as an ingredient in food, or eaten on its own. The essential oils in ginger give it significant medicinal properties and have been used to treat a wide variety of ailments including nausea, arthritis, and indigestion. Its ability to be used in many foods and to treat many medical conditions has made it a highly valued spice the world over.