Also known as Soonth, Sunth or Sukku in India, dried ginger is, as the name suggests, nothing but fresh ginger which has undergone a drying process by first washing and soaking overnight and then drying it out in the sun. Sometimes calcium carbonate is added to bleach the dried ginger, which gives it a whitish covering. Dried ginger is mostly used in its powdered form which is easy to store having a long shelf life of more than six months.
The pungency or spiciness in ginger is derived from three main compounds – Gingerol, Shogaol and Zigerone. Fresh ginger contains Gingerol as its active component, which, when cooked, loses its pungency and gets transformed to Zingerone. The most pungent form, however, is dried ginger whose active component is Shogaol.
Ginger in your kitchen:
Dried ginger powder is a highly versatile spice used in various ways in the culinary world, including spicing food and beverages, seasoning meats, making ginger tea and is also used as a flavour in a variety of baked dishes like ginger bread, ginger cookies and ginger candies. In India dried ginger powder finds pride of place in the making of spices and masalas which are used in gravies, curries and marinades, especially in Tandoori dishes.
Tea made with ground ginger, with or without the inclusion of other ingredients, is a refreshing drink and has also been known to be a traditional herbal remedy for thousands of years in Asian, Indian and Arabic medicine, including motion sickness, nausea, vomiting and to relieve inflammation.
How to make Ginger Tea:
- Heat a cup of water till it just comes to boiling point
- Add half teaspoon of dried ginger powder and one teaspoon of honey to the hot water
- Let this liquid steep for about 10-15 minutes before drinking
You could also add one tablespoon of lemon juice to the ginger tea and enjoy added health benefits. The compound zingiber, found in ginger, coupled with the pectin found in lemon juice acts as a barrier and blocks the growth of harmful bacteria in the body, specifically the dreaded salmonella bacteria, found on uncooked meat products or uncooked vegetables, which can cause fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, and in extreme cases, even death.
Nutritional Properties and Health Benefits of Dry Ginger:
The medicinal value of dry ginger has been well documented and has been known to man since ancient times for its anti inflammatory, anti flatulent, anti emetic and anti microbial properties. Low in cholesterol and sodium, dried ginger is a good source of Dietary Fibre, Vitamin B6, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Vitamin E and Manganese.
- The root contains many essential oils such as gingerol, zingerone and shogaol. Gingerol portrays anti inflammatory, analgesic, anti emetic, anti pyretic as well as anti bacterial properties. It also aids in the production of gastric juices in the stomach.
- Zingerone, which is responsible for the pungent flavour, has been found to be effective against the bacteria E Coli which causes diarrhoea especially in small children.
- Dry ginger is a potent anti emetic and is effective in relieving nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, or for motion sickness. It is also known to decrease nausea caused by radiation and chemotherapy.
Grandma Knows best
Given below are home remedies using dry ginger used for curing common ailments:
Dry Ginger for Indigestion:
Add to hot water, 1 gm dry ginger, an inch of asafoetida, a little rock salt, and drink while it is still warm, to get relief from stomach pain.
Get Rid of Flatulence:
Dry ginger, a pinch of asafoetida along with black salt, mixed in warm water helps clear flatulence.
Grind together a piece of dry ginger and half a teaspoon of carom seeds (Ajwain in Hindi), add enough lemon juice to make a thick paste and dry this mix in the shade. Add salt and have 1 gm in the morning and evening to clear discomfort in the stomach and flatulence.
Dry Ginger for Cough and Cold:
Heat 1 teaspoon of ghee along with 1 teaspoon of honey and add 5 gms of dry ginger powder. Taken on an empty stomach every morning ensures relief from cough and chest congestion.
Dry Ginger for Urinary infections:
Dry ginger powder added to milk and candied sugar helps clear urinary infections.
Dry Ginger for Hiccoughs:
Boil milk with a piece of ginger and drink to get rid of hiccoughs.
The Ayurvedic Root to Good Health – Dry Ginger
Dry ginger, called Shunti in Ayurvedic Medicine has been a key ingredient in Ayurvedic preparations for centuries and is used either individually or as a component in the preparation of various decoctions, powders etc. It is believed to enhance the healing properties of other herbs. Being hot and pungent by nature, it is said to combat excess of vata, (one of the three principles which govern all the activities of the mind and body- the other two being Pitta and Kapha), in the gastrointestinal tract and regulate digestive functions. It is also used in various combinations to combat various health disorders including digestive, gastrointestinal and respiratory. It’s warm and stimulating properties help stimulate circulation and enhance the absorption of nutrients by encouraging the secretion of digestive enzymes.
Though ginger is considered as safe to use for most people, there are reports that suggest the use of ginger could be contraindicative for certain health conditions. If you are on medication, it is wise to be cautious and consult with your healthcare provider before using ginger. Be especially cautious if you are on
- Medication that Slows Clotting of Blood: If you are on anti coagulant or anti platelet drugs, avoid using ginger since ginger might slow blood clotting even further, thus increasing the risk of bruising and bleeding.
- Medication for Diabetes: Ginger has properties known to decrease blood sugar levels, so if you are taking medicines for diabetes like Glimipride, Glimisave, Metformin or Insulin, chances are that your sugar levels might go too low, causing Hypoglycaemia.
- Medication for High Blood Pressure: Avoid the use of ginger if you are on medication for high blood pressure, as it can cause your blood pressure to drop further or cause an irregular heartbeat.