Monday, March 03, 2008

Ginger - the spice of life...

Moreover, according to Ayurveda, a patient of any acute disease should never be given plain water to drink. The drinking water should e boiled with dry ginger and then cooled and administered in sips. The 'cold' of the water is thus neutralized and the body's digestive 'fire' is protected.

As a remedy, ginger is unsurpassed in diseased due to Kapha and Pitta. There is nothing like it for the common cold. It has even been found useful in cases of influenza.

Some mix dry ginger with honey and lick it from a spoon. Some mix it with gud (solidified molasses), which has the property of making the urine and feces flow freely.

Since an important cause of upper respiratory congestion is incomplete evacuation of wastes, ginger and gud are often remarkably effective in relieving such congestion.

This combination is good for hiccough also, whether swallowed or inhaled as a snuff. Inhaling it causes a quicker, more direct effect.

Any sort of cough can be treated with ginger. Dry cough, which is due to Vata, responds well to the juice of raw ginger; productive cough, due to Kapha, is better treated with dry ginger and honey. Even shortness of breath, vomiting and giddiness, all due to vitiated Vata, can be conquered with ginger.

Ginger is good in every disease characterized by the accumulation of undigested or partially digested food, known in Ayurveda as Ama.

Any diarrhea or dysentery can be treated with ginger. There is a school of thought which suggests that an individual suffering from dysentery or colitis follow a diet restricted to lassi , as prepared above with the substitution of / for raw ginger.

Hyperacidity is known in Ayurveda as Amla pitta. As its name suggests, the Pitta of the body becomes 'sour' and leads to trouble. Ginger can cure hyperacidity without the help of any other medication. It returns the Pitta to normal by regulating instead of depressing the production of stomach acid.

Abdominal distention deflates when confronted by ginger, especially when it is mixed with asafetida and rock salt. Trapped gases are evacuated with ease.

Ginger is even useful in cases of piles. Unfortunately, Indians are so fond of spicy foods they often overuse ginger and as a result, produce piles. It seems paradoxical that a single substance can both cure and cause the same illness, but is merely a question of the amount consume. "Ati sarvatra varjayet" (always avoid excess) is the watchword of Ayurveda.

Dry ginger made into a thick paste with water is used as a plaster on the forehead in case of headache; on the chest in case of cold, cor yza, congestion or bronchitis; over rheumatic joints; over any swollen part of the body. In rheumatic fever and syndromes which resemble it, characterized by fever, severe joint inflammation and general systemic complications (suggesting that Vata is being afflicted by Ama), treatment begins with the active purification of the body by purgation.

Decoction of dry ginger is mixed with castor oil in a ratio of 2:1 and is given internally. The castor oil flushes out the digestive tract; the ginger digests any remaining Ama and frees the digestive organs to transform nutrients efficiently again.

Ginger finds a place in many compound medicines. There is Visvabhesaja Vati, which is dry ginger mixed with an equal quantity of the juice o raw ginger; the combination is then rubbed in a special type of mortar and pestle until it becomes dry. This process is repeated up to twenty-one times to fully potentiate the resulting medication. It can be used in any condition which calls for ginger.

The most important compound of ginger, however, is Trikatu, "Three Pungents", which is composed of equal parts of dry ginger, black pepper and long pepper (Piper longum). It is especially useful in dyspepsia, loss of appetite and flatulence.

In addition, ginger is used to potentate, in the manner described above, such drugs as Anandabhairava Vati (fever and teething troubles in children), Gandhaka Rasayana (skin diseases, joint troubles, any condition which involves formation of pus), Catus Bhuja Kalpa (heart disease, asthma), and numerous others.

Perhaps I should mention that ginger is not a cure-all, and that any persistent or serious illness should be treated with the help of a physician. But as you stroll through your food store and see the plump rhizomes of Zingiber officianalis, please do it respect as benefits its position as a proven remedy.

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