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Ginger - An Ingredient for Food and Medicine

Author: Sonia Velarsan, RD

Sometimes it’s about the simple spices in life and ginger certainly hits the spot every day for many of us - are you thinking what I am thinking? Masala Tea! 

Ginger’s versatility spans across cultures throughout the world and certainly packs in a punch with its health benefits.

Dry vs Fresh/ Wet Ginger

Dry and fresh ginger have similar properties, but according to Ayurveda, dry ginger is preferred over fresh ginger during the summer. Ginger is beneficial for conditions such as indigestion, asthma, and nausea. Modern science has identified that compounds like gingerols, paradols, and shogaols, which are polyphenols found in ginger, possess antioxidant properties. 

Qualities of dried ginger (shunti) are hot (ushna), bitter (tikta), and pungent (katu). It is one of the three key ingredients of trikatu that is useful in clearing digestive toxins and digesting heavy foods. Therefore, it is an excellent option for Kapha-related issues, as it is significantly more drying and heating than fresh ginger (Bhojana Kutuhalam). Useful in loose motions and/or IBS as it has an absorbent property. 

Qualities of fresh ginger include being hot (ushna), sweet (madhura), pungent (katu), and unctuous (snigdha). It is useful in treating constipation (Bhojana Kutuhalam).

Try this if you feel bloated, or experiencing a lack of appetite

Ginger with hot water:1 - 3 grams of ginger is administered with a cup of hot water to relieve Ama (altered digestion and metabolism) in case of Irritable bowel disease, associated with low digestion strength. - Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 15th chapter.

Some benefits of ginger - eaten dry or fresh: 

The properties of ginger differ between its fresh form (adrak) and dried form (shunti), but ginger is a versatile kitchen hero overall.

  • Strong anti-inflammatory (1)

  • Antibacterial/Antiviral (2)

  • Antiemetic (prevents vomiting) (3)

  • Purifies the blood (4)

  • Stimulates nerve impulses (5) 

  • An antioxidant powerhouse (6) 

  • Relieves asthma and respiratory congestion (7)

  • Powerful pain reliever (8)

  • Alleviates vata aggravation (pacifies vata, pitta and kapha) (9) 

  • An easy go-to for nausea (10) 

  • It stimulates hunger, relieves indigestion, and enhances digestive strength. (11)

How to Use Ginger

  • Grate it: Add grated ginger to foods, soups, stews, and casseroles.

  • Make tea: Prepare ginger tea with honey (avoid heating the honey) to relieve a cold.

  • Chew it: Chew on a piece of raw ginger to soothe a sore or hoarse throat.

  • Try ginger sweets: For a tasty and beneficial treat.

Ginger is not just a spice; it’s a natural remedy and a health booster. So, next time you cook, add a little ginger to your dishes!

Next up in our #FoodAndMedicine series is Karonda (Carissa Carandas). Stay tuned! 


  1. Rahmani, A. H., Al Shabrmi, F. M., & Aly, S. M. (2014). Active ingredients of ginger as potential candidates in the prevention and treatment of diseases via modulation of biological activities. International Journal of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology, 6(2), 125–136.

  2. Singh, G., Kapoor, I. P., Singh, P., de Heluani, C. S., de Lampasona, M. P., & Catalan, C. A. (2008). Chemistry, antioxidant and antimicrobial investigations on essential oil and oleoresins of Zingiber officinale. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 46(10), 3295-3302.

  3. Ernst, E., & Pittler, M. H. (2000). Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. British Journal of Anaesthesia, 84(3), 367–371.

  4. Srivastava, K. C., & Mustafa, T. (1989). Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and rheumatic disorders. Medical Hypotheses, 29(1), 25-28.

  5. Young, H. Y., Luo, Y. L., Cheng, H. Y., Hsieh, W. C., Liao, J. C., & Peng, W. H. (2005). Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of [6]-gingerol. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 96(1-2), 207-210.

  6. Mao, Q. Q., Xu, X. Y., Cao, S. Y., Gan, R. Y., Corke, H., Beta, T., & Li, H. B. (2019). Bioactive Compounds and Bioactivities of Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe). Foods, 8(6), 185.

  7. Townsend, E. A., Siviski, M. E., Zhang, Y., Xu, C., Hoonjan, B., Emala, C. W. S. (2013). Effects of ginger and its constituents on airway smooth muscle relaxation and calcium regulation. American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, 48(2), 157-163.

  8. Ozgoli, G., Goli, M., & Moattar, F. (2009). Comparison of effects of ginger, mefenamic acid, and ibuprofen on pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(2), 129-132.

  9. Lad, V. (2002). Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing: A Practical Guide. Lotus Press. (Discusses the balancing of doshas including vata, pitta, and kapha through the use of various herbs, including ginger).

  10. Lete, I., & Allué, J. (2016). The effectiveness of ginger in the prevention of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy and chemotherapy. Integrative Medicine Insights, 11, 11-17.

  11. Tripathi, A. S., & Jadon, R. S. (2021). Recent Updates on Pharmacological Activities of Zingiber officinale (Ginger). Natural Products and Bioprospecting, 11, 263–292.

1 Comment

5 days ago

Nice article!

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