Ginger is used in ayurvedic treatment in two forms Dry ginger (shunti) and Raw ginger (Ardraka). According to ayurvedic principles benefits and uses of both forms of ginger is different.
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Ginger in Ayurveda
Ginger is a very well-known spice. It is used in almost all cuisines around the world. Texts of Ayurveda immensely price the medicinal properties of ginger. Ginger is used in two forms- raw or dry. Raw ginger is called “Aardraka” and dry ginger is called “Shunti”. It has a Botanical name– Zingiber officinale and belongs to Family-SCITAMINEAE
It contains- a-Curumene, B- D- Curcumene, B- Bourbornene, d-Borneal, Citral, D- Camphene, Citronellol, Geraniol, Gingerol,a-&b- Zingiberenes, Zingiberol, Zingerone, Gingerols, Paradol,Gingerone A, ginner glycolipids A,B &C; Gingerdiol; Gingerone B& C etc.
(Reference: Illustrated Dravyaguna VIjnana, Vol. II, by Dr JLN Shastry)
Ginger contains 584 picograms / gram of melatonin. (reference)
Ayurveda Health Benefits and Uses of Ginger
Texts of ayurveda describe health benefits of ginger as follows
This is known by different names in India like- in Hindi Adarakh (fresh),
Kannada – Hasi Shunti, Shunti,
Telugu – Alla, Allamu
Bengali – Ada
Marathi – Alla
Gujarati – Adu
Tamil – Inji
Punjabi – Adarak,
Malayalam – Inchi
Texts of ayurveda refer fresh variety with following names Ardraka (moist ), Moolaja (raises from roots) , Ardra Shaka (moist stems) ,Gulma moola (Knotty rhizomes),
Anupaja ( grows in moist places), Vishva Bheshaja (an universal medicine)
Action on Doshas
Fresh ginger is pungent to taste (katu rasa). It increases vata dosha . It is heavy to digest and increases body heat (ushna veerya) . It absorbs more water while getting metabolised , hence causes dryness (rooksha) inside body. It tastes sweet (madhura vipaka) after digestion.
Fresh Ginger and Jaggery
Adraka is used in treatment of rakta (blood) and pitta dosha disorders. When used with jaggery (guda) it normalises vata and kapha. This combination of fresh ginger and jaggery helps to strengthen the body and increases appetite.
Dry ginger has different names in India
Hindi – Sont,
Kannada – Ona shunti,
Bengali – Shunt,
Telugu – Shonti,
Tamil – Shukku,
Malayalam – Chukka
Gujarati– sunt, soont
Marathi – sont
Difference Between Fresh Ginger and Dry Ginger
Good for Heart
It is praised as heart healthy (hrudya). Various studies have shown that ginger can lower total cholesterol and triglycerides levels. It can reduce LDL cholesterol levels and boost HDL cholesterol. This prevent clogging of arteries and improves blood supply to heart. It nourishes all 7 dhatu (tissues) and boosts immunity. Adding grated ginger to salads, fruit juices and vegetable juices is a healthy heart friendly way to use this herb.
In digestive disorders
Fresh ginger juice may cause constipation and exaggerate symptoms of piles or haemorrhoids. But when it is mixed with jaggery it helps to relieve constipation , stomach discomfort and forms soft stools.
It increases appetite and digestion power (agni). Hence this herb is recommended in indigestion. Consumption of this herb helps to remove coat on tongue, improves taste, reduces nausea, stops hiccups, relieves gas and bloating. This is used as best liver detox.
Ginger is very commonly used in almost all common diseases of digestive system. Indigestion, flatulence, bloating, nausea, vomiting, stomach colic and haemorrhoids are treated with this herb. Chewing a piece of this herb smeared with powdered rock salt (sendha namak), before meals aids digestion and prevents other problems of digestive system.
In Respiratory Disorder
This spice is widely used in treatment of chronic cold, cough, bronchitis and asthma. Its anti-inflammatory property helps in management of vocal chord health and improves voice in singers and speakers.
This herb is very helpful in common cold, cough and sore throat. Mix equal quantity of fresh ginger juice and honey. Add half the quantity of Indian Borage (ajwain Leaves) juice and a little dab of salt to this. Keep half spoon of this mix on tongue and allow it to slowly get down through your throat. This relieves cough and sore throat. It boosts body immunity and helps body to fight common infections and allergies (Read How to boost immunity Naturally )
Ginger for Weight Loss and Diabetes
Nagara is another name coined by ayurveda acharyas for this wonderful herb. Since this spice balances vata and kapha it has direct effect on meda or body fat. Dry ginger or shunti very effectively help to reduce body weight. It improves metabolism and increases sensitivity of cells to insulin. This helps in controlling blood sugar level fluctuations. Hence this is highly recommended by ayurveda acharyas to include in ayurvedic weight loss diet and ayurvedic diet for Diabetes.
Ginger for PCOS
Due to its weight loss and lowering blood sugar level properties this spice can be included while addressing PCOS/ PCOD or Polycystic Ovarian Disease. (Read Ayurvedic Treatment for PCOS /PCOD at Home ) .
Ginger in Vajikarana Therapy
Just like Pippali (long Pepper) , Ginger even-though it has pungent taste and hot potency it is considered as a vajikarana herb and praised as Vrushya (aphrodisiac). It increases sperm count and improves libido. It is best herbal ayurvedic remedy for erectile dysfunction. Almost all preparations used in Vajikarana Therapy contain this herb.
In Joint Pain
Based on principles of ayurveda ginger normalises Kapha and Vata. Hence this herb is used in diseases in which Kapha and vata are prominent. Almost all diseases of vata are treated with this magic spice along with other herbs. It is very use full in rheumatoid arthritis. Ginger exhibits anti-inflammatory qualities. Hence it is useful in joint pain, inflammation of muscles and body pain. Ginger is ground into fine paste and this paste is warmed in steam. This warm paste is applied on painful joints. Dry ginger powder is mixed in warm sesame oil. This warm oil is massaged all over body to relieve body pain.
Precautions to be Taken While Using Ginger
- Ginger should not be used in skin diseases, anaemia, urine retention or burning micturition, skin rashes, wounds or in fever.
- Fresh Ginger should not be used in summer and autumn.
- It can be used in small quantities during pregnancy and lactation
- Never use this in children below 1 year.
- Dont use ginger if you have sensitive stomach
- While using fresh ginger tea add pod of cardamom to counteract the hot potency. Otherwise it may cause throat irritation and drying of palate