Ginger: properties, use and benefits

the rhizome with many virtues






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Zingiber officinale


Ginger, whose scientific name isZingiber officinale, belongs to the family ofZinziberaceae and is native to India and tropical Asia.

Its peculiarity is the large fleshy rhizome from which the aerial stems of the plant depart.The stems are devoid of branches: the shorter ones (about 20 cm) are intended for the production of flowers while the longer ones (about 1.5 m) carry the leaves in charge of carrying out normal assimilation and photosynthesis activities.


The aromatic properties are given by its essential oil mainly made up of hydrocarbon sesquiterpenes, mainly zingiberene. The characteristic spiciness seems to be given by gingerol and zingerone and others that are found in small quantities in the fresh product but are particularly abundant in dry ginger.


The rhizome contains cellulose and numerous essential oils such as zingiberene, curcumene, camphor and compounds called gingerols and shogaoli, both responsible for the acrid aroma and its therapeutic properties. The former are found mainly in fresh ginger while the latter in dried ginger and their quantity depends on how the ginger was processed, therefore there is a substantial difference between fresh and dried ginger. In dried ginger (therefore in powder form) all its components are concentrated and also contains a high concentration of shogaol (during dehydration the gingerols are partly converted into shogaoli) which has properties similar to aspirin. more intense and therefore much more suitable for all those uses where you want to have its aroma.

The fresh root is more suitable for counteracting colds, to stimulate digestion, to dissolve phlegm, to eliminate nausea and vomiting (even motion sickness) .The powder is instead more indicated in cases of abdominal pain, diarrhea due to cold and to stop bleeding present in the urine.

It is proven that ginger has properties: antihistamines, anti-inflammatory, prokinetic (stimulate digestion and intestinal function), anti-rheumatic, anti-arthritic and anti-arthritic, antioxidant, anti-emetic, toning, anti-migraine, anti-tumor and anti-cholesterol properties.


The dried rhizome is used from the ginger plant, generally reduced to powder, but it can be fresh as it is quite easily found at the greengrocer's and if intact, it can be kept well for a couple of weeks at room temperature. To keep it for a longer time it should be put in the fridge. in the vegetable department. Once cut, it must be kept strictly in the fridge, always in the vegetable drawer, also wrapping it with cling film to prevent it from dehydrating and losing its fragrance. It is also possible to freeze it grated, blended, squeezed or cut into small pieces. There are also those who suggest keeping it in salt.


With its peppery and burning flavor, it is used to flavor liqueurs, sweets, bread as well as meat, fish, pasta, syrups. It is also commercially available in candied fruit.


Ginger has always been one of the main species of Chinese cuisine used dried or candied. It is also used as a remedy for various ailments in fact it is a stimulant, stomachic and carminative.

In Europe it was widely used during the Middle Ages.

It is a plant known since ancient times, it is three thousand years old. Despite this, its origin is not certain. It is thought that it may have originated in India or China where it was a precious bargaining chip with other products. It was also known in Japan where it was known as "the wonder of the Universe".

There are testimonies that say that in the 19th century it was a very difficult spice to find in Asia as it was cultivated in dangerous places (from Universal dictionary of materia medica and general therapeutics by Merat and De Lens, 1835).

From Asia it arrived in the Mediterranean thanks to the Phoenicians. It was known to the Egyptians that they used it in embalming processes; it was known to the Greeks and Romans who used it in all kinds of dishes. Dioscorides (about 40-90 AD) speaks of it in his De Materia Medica where he recommends it to strengthen the stomach and many other testimonies.

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