Ginger is a powerful aphrodisiac and increases sexual prowess

ginger.jpg (15361 bytes)by Namini Wijedasa
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is identified in Sanskrit as Singara but has also been called Mahaushadha, meaning ‘universal medicine.’ According to Lakshmi Senaratne, senior scientist (ayurveda) at Bandaranaike Memorial Ayurveda Research Institute, it is considered a herb of utmost importance, used both raw and dry.

Ginger is extensively used at home, usually a slice of the raw variety, for seasoning curries as well as simple remedies. There are several kinds of ginger. For decoctions, dry ginger or siddiguru is opted for while there is also a small medicinal variety called beheth inguru. The large variety or cheena inguru (normally found in the home) is not for medicinal purposes. Val inguru is found in jungles and hill areas and is rarely prescribed in traditional medicine.

To store fresh ginger, bury it in a pot of soil. To prepare dry ginger, boil the root and then dry it. It is one of the most common home-grown plants and flourishes in damp, hot and humid environments.

"In ayurveda, there are three herbs called thrikatu which are used for treatment of phlegm conditions," said Mrs. Senaratne. "These are ginger, pepper and long pepper."

Ginger reduced vatha and kapha and is good for pain and phlegm disorders. It increases pitta and, therefore, improves appetite and digestion. It stimulates the nervous system, the heart and the circulatory system. It reduces pain and is effective for asthma, fever and oedema. It relieves palpitation of the heart, and tympanitis.

Senaratne explained that it is used for treatment in loss of appetite, indigestion, vomitting, belching, diarrhoea, abdominal distension, gaseous stomach, non-bleeding haemorrhoids, sore throat, common cold, sinusitis, cough, hiccoughs, malaria, chronic fever and heart ailments such as the weakness of the heart. It also constitutes an element in remedies for angina, filaria, rheumatism (rheumatic arthritis), urticarial rashes, ascites, diseases of the nervous system and coldness (general coldness of the body as well as shivering and chills).

Ginger is also a powerful aphrodisiac and increases sexual prowess.

Raw ginger is commonly used as an anupana or vehicle for ayurvedic drugs, Senaratne explained. Numerous ayurvedic medicines and pills are administered with ginger juice. "Even to prepare the pills or medicine, we grind the raw material with ginger juice," she elaborated. "That way, we can keep the medicine for a long time."

As all herbs, there are certain conditions under which ginger is not recommended: for skin rashes, anaemia, difficulty in passing urine and bleeding diseases where pitta is predominant. It is also so with bleeding haemorrhoids and menstruation. "People suffering from these ailments should restrict their intake of ginger to the minimum," Senaratne advised. When living in very hot climates, don’t use ginger excessively.

Dr. Seela Fernando, in her book Herbal Food and Medicines in Sri Lanka says that those with high fever and kidney complaints should avoid ginger.

Ginger is used externally for coldness in the body and headache. Grind ginger with water or breast milk and apply. "However, when applying on forehead, place the ground ginger on a piece of cloth and do not place it in direct contact with the skin as it is strong," Senaratne warned.

For joint swelling, apply ground ginger with water (no cloth is necessary)

For non bleeding piles, take aralu and coriander with dry ginger, boil and drink. It may either be the decoction or the boiled herbs.

For cold, cough, fever and influenza, the most famous remedy is the inguru-kotamalli decoction. Also, ginger powder with turmeric (equal quantities) and a tablespoon of bees’ honey. Take twice a day. Also, one teaspoon of ginger juice mixed with one teaspoon of bees’ honey two to three times a day. Another remedy is to boil one tablespoon of chopped ginger in one cup of water, strain, add sugar or bees’ honey and drink warm.

For sore throat, take small piece of raw ginger, steam it and eat with sukiri.

For cold, cough and asthma, take raw ginger and garlic in equal quantities, steam and extract juice, add sour orange juice, sugar, bees’ honey and rock salt and take one teaspoonful at a time. Half a cup for 24 hours.

For loss of appetite, indigestion, abdominal distension and abdominal pain, take two teaspoons of raw ginger juice with four teaspoons of lime juice, mix with a little salt and drink before meals. Or, simply take a piece of raw ginger with salt before meals.

According to Dr. Mauroof Athique, an ayurvedic physician and director of the Ayurvedic Medical Association of London, ginger can also be taken as a tea. When chewed with salt or lemon before a meal, it stimulates appetite. Ginger reduces toxic build-up and helps eliminate it. Because it is an expectorant and reduces nausea and vomitting, ginger is one of the best natural remedies for travel sickness. He recommends chewing on fresh root or crystallised ginger and says it relieves symptoms.

For nausea and flatulence, mix some ginger juice with one teaspoon of lime-juice, one teaspoon of mint juice and one tablespoon of bees’ honey. Take twice a day.

For stomach ache, boil one teaspoon of ginger in one cup of water, add a pinch of salt and drink.

For fungal infections in the mouth, or for a furry tongue, rub the tongue with a piece of raw ginger.

Dr. Seela Fernando recommends that for colic, a liquid from crushed, raw ginger, iriveriya and undupiyaliya be mixed with a tablespoon of lime juice and bees’ honey. Into this is dipped a red hot piece of iron. The dose is one tablespoon at a time, three times a day.

Fernando says that dry ginger is the chief ingredient in the treatment of amoebiosis. Take dry ginger with stems of karapincha and tamarind leaves and the rind of a raw lime in equal quantities and roast as for coffee. A tablespoon of this powder is mixed with a tablespoon of coffee powder and brewed in half a cup of boiling water. When cold, add bees’ honey to sweeten. Take three times a day for best results.

She prescribes a remedy for acute colic and diarrhoea followed by vomitting: crush together ginger, garlic and a piece of bark from the drumstick tree (murunga pothu) with a small quantity of Buddha Raja Kalke.

When diarrhoea and vomiting gives a patient a chill, rub crushed ginger on palms and soles of feet and tie a little of it on the two big toes.

For fever, take three kalans (1.5 pounds) of each of the following: ginger, katuwelbatu, batumul and dewadara and 8 cups of water. Boil down to one and take twice daily.