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VEGETABLES : GINGER

There is a pill made from ginger alone, known as the 'Universal Remedy'. Dried ginger, which is mainly used in medicine, is pungent and sweet, hot, and sweet after digestion; it controls and balances the three doshas (though in excess it may increase pitta). Fresh ginger, which is used mainly in cookery, has a stronger pitta-increasing property and is forbidden when pitta is high, such as in bleeding disorders, skin disease, fever and the summer season.

The ancient texts call ginger 'satisfaction killer' for its property of inflaming the appetite. Bhavaprakasha suggests that one should always eat a little fresh ginger and rock salt before a meal, to intensify the digestive fire, increase appetite and clean the tongue and throat. As part of the powder known as Hingvashtaka Churna, ginger relieves bloating and abdominal distension due to gas. Powdered ginger, as research in Britain has proved, can prevent motion sickness, and it is given with rock salt and cumin with water after meals to treat chronic diarrhoea. With lime juice and sugar or salt it is a popular Indian first-aid remedy for sunstroke. Ginger is Ayurveda's supreme toxin-digester, used, for example, as a strong tea with castor oil in treating rheumatism and rheumatoid arthritis.

Ginger promotes circulation, especially when applied to the body. Ginger baths promote warmth and help relieve musculo-skeletal aches and pains. Paste of powered ginger on the forehead relieves some kinds of headache, juice of fresh ginger alleviates certain kinds of earache, and burnt ginger and salt is beneficial for the gums and teeth. Consumed with turmeric in hot milk, dry ginger loosens and liquefies thick respiratory congestion; for productive cough, it is given with honey, either alone or mixed with black pepper and long pepper (piper longum; see P. 234). For dry cough, pharyngitis, bronchitis, nausea and vomiting, fresh ginger juice is used with mint juice, lemon juice and honey. Fresh ginger juice is often given with fenugreek decoction and honey to people suffering from influenza. Dry ginger and solidified sugar-cane juice make urine and faeces flow more freely, and sweetened ginger tea helps some cases of disturbed or absent menses.

References:
Ayurveda Life Health and Longevity by Robert E. Svoboda - Penguin Books.

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