Ginger is a root from a flowering plant and is from the Zingiberaceae family which originated from China and South East Asia over 5000 years ago. It was brought to England and introduced to nobility through the spice trade by the Crusades in the 13th century and later again became fashionable during the Tudor Period where the legend of the gingerbread began. It is said Queen Elizabeth I would have gingerbread made to resemble her courtiers and diplomats to show off her vast wealth. Throughout history it has also been used as a cure for common ailments.
In cooking, it can be used in root, crystallised, preserved, pickled and also grounded form for a range of dishes and deserts. It is often used as part of a base along with garlic across many cultures and cuisines in Asia. However in the western world it has often been used (in its grounded form) to spice breads and deserts. This is due to the way it was originally brought over to England on long sea journeys in barrels during the Tudor period.
- It contains Gingerols which are the main bioactive compound in ginger making it responsible for much of its medicinal properties. Gingerols have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects as well as inhibiting the growth of many different types of bacteria. They also thought to help treat respiratory viruses.
- It reduces gastrointestinal irritation and can speed up the emptying of the stomach
- It has been used for many years in holistic and Ayurvedic medicine to treat nausea.
- It is anti inflammatory. Studies show that ground ginger in specific regular quantities can be just as effective in menstrual pain relief as ibuprofen