Ginger: The Universal Medicine

By Sabrena Salahudeen

This spicy root vegetable, also known as a rhizome, is considered in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, to be the universal medicine in all ancient prescriptions. Ginger is found in all tropical and sub tropical environments throughout the world. This natural stimulant is used medicinally for digestion, circulation, nervous system and respiratory system. As a complete cleanser it works on the skin, colon and kidneys. Mostly known for its impact on nausea, morning sickness and a staple in most homes as a cold remedy, ginger also aids nausea associated with chemotherapy. The anti-inflammatory effect works best on intestinal parasites.

Ayurveda, or ancient Indian medicine texts dating back to the 16th century informs us of the harmful effects ginger has on certain skin diseases, incontinence and hot symptoms.

Best to take ginger as a cold drink offset with lemon or lime and honey during the warm months. When adding it to cooking, less is more. This fiery root does not need to be peeled for cooking purposes and dehydrated ginger tends to be less potent medicinally. If you want more of a delicate flavour to your meals, use young smaller ginger fingers whereas bold spicy flavour is found in mature ginger. Stem ginger is less peppery than mature ones. Look for firm, fleshy ginger with smooth skin. It’s important to store refrigerated and uncovered in a vegetable drawer to prevent moulding. Use within three days on refrigeration, or grate and store 1 tsp. in freezer ice cube trays for up to several months to be used when cooking.

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