A popular flavouring agent and health supplement, ginger, also known as “zingiber”, has traditionally been used in South Asia in both its fresh and dried forms. Ginger is said to be native to India and China. Interestingly, it takes its name from the Sanskrit word stringa-vera, which means “with a body like a horn”.
Together with black pepper, ginger was one of the most commonly traded spices during the 13th and 14th centuries. Ginger is most commonly known for its effectiveness as a digestive aid. By increasing the production of digestive fluids and saliva, it helps relieve indigestion, gas pains, diarrhoea and stomach cramps.
Ginger root is also used to treat nausea related to motion and morning sickness. Its anti-inflammatory properties help relieve the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, rheumatism and muscle spasms.
In the Philippines ginger is chewed to expel evil spirits.
In English pubs and taverns in the 19th century, bar keepers put out small containers of ground ginger for people to sprinkle on their beer —the origin of ginger ale.
In order to “gee up” a lazy horse, it is the time-honoured practice of Sussex farmers in the UK to apply a pinch of ginger to the animal’s backside.
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