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Ginger: its medicinal benefits

Ginger plant

by Pauline James

Ginger has been used by the Chinese for nearly 2,000 years for the treatment of nausea and motion sickness and is even hailed to be more pungent and effective than modern-day travel-sickness medication.  It also reduces all the associated symptoms of dizziness, vomiting and cold sweating too.  One ‘old wives’ tale’ even dictates, if you feel nauseous in pregnancy, lie down and eat ginger biscuits...!  But the great thing with ginger is that it has no derogatory side-effects, and a little goes a long way.

Ginger is mainly grown and produced in Jamaica, India, Fiji, Indonesia and Australia, and is the aromatic, pungent and spicy underground knobbly rhizome of the ginger plant with a firm, ridged texture.  The flesh of the ginger rhizome can be yellow, white or red in colour, depending on the variety.  It is covered with a light brown skin that can be thick or thin, depending on whether the plant was harvested when it was mature or young.

How to use
Pour a cupful of boiling water over 1-2 peeled, thick slices of fresh ginger root and steep in the hot water for 10-15 minutes.  This produces a mild ginger ‘tea’ which can then be added to food to provide comfort to parrots.  It is a wonderful remedy for chicks being hand-reared, if they are suffering digestive problems or are throwing-up their food.  Just mix the formula with the ginger infusion, rather than water and it will often provide instant relief.  If your parrots must travel and are prone to motion sickness, add this liquid to their food and drinking water, or alternatively add finely chopped ginger and orange juice to mashed sweet potato, several hours before the trip - a few slices of fresh ginger placed in the carrier is also often appreciated.  Parrots seem to have an innate sense of what they need and will often nibble on the ginger to quell their queasiness.  The branches and leaves of the ginger plant are also beneficial to parrots in helping an upset stomach or digestive problems in general!

gingerroot3Other benefits
Ginger also contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols.  These substances are believed to reduce the pain of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and aid mobility if ginger is consumed regularly.  Ginger extracts have also been found to have antioxidant properties and have an anti-tumour effect on cells.  Dietary-wise ginger provides the minerals potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper and vitamin B6.

Fresh or dried ginger?
Fresh ginger is superior to the dried spice and not only has a better flavour, but has higher levels of gingerols, and a greater level of anti-inflammatory compounds.  If dried ginger is preferred, try and select organically grown dried ginger to ensure it has not been irradiated.  A specialist health or spice store is more likely to sell superior and fresher products.  If kept in the fridge in a tightly sealed glass container it can be stored for up to a year.

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