by Hakim M.Salim Khan
Origins of ginger (Zanjabeel)
Zanjabeel, whose common name is ginger, is a very old plant. Botanically, it is known as zingiber officinale. The Arabic word Zanjabeel is said to have been derived from the Sanskrit word of Sringeber. Maulana Sayyid Sulayman Nadwi mentions in his classic Ardhul Qur’an that, for us (Indians) it is a matter of great pride that there are some fortunate words of our country which have found place in the holy Qur,an. He mentions Misk, Kaafur and Zanjabeel, being the three medicines. The common name, ginger is also derived from Sanskrit "Gringa" meaning horn and "Vere" meaning body, in reference to the shape of the root.
Ginger is a very old plant known to many societies. It was first mentioned in China around 400 BC. In China, ginger (Jiang) has been cultivated since before written history began. Marco Polo also reported seeing it in China between 1280 and 1290 CE. In Chinese traditional medicine, ginger has long and reputable uses. Ginger ranks as the fifth most important plant in traditional Chinese medicine. The ancient Greeks and Romans were familiar with ginger as a spice and medicine.
During the time of the prophet Muhammad (salAllahu alayhi wasalam), the Byzantine Emperor once sent a jar of pickled ginger to Allah’s messenger (S.A.W) as a gift and Allah’s messenger (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) ate from it and gave a piece to each of his companions (radiAllahu anhum). It is stated in Tafseer Mazhari that the Arabs had a great liking for ginger and they used it as a medicine and as a drink. Ginger has been grown since ancient times in India too. The Indian physicians considered ginger to be an important medicine and gave it names such as "Great remedy" and "Panacea".
Different types of Ginger
Ginger is cultivated in many different parts of the world including Australia, China, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Japan and Jamaica. Botanically speaking, ginger is an underground stem, known as rhizome, which bears buds on top of each of its stubby fingers and grows a mass of thin tangled root below. Fresh ginger is called Adrak. It is fleshy and bulbous and looks rather like several small potatoes clumped together and flattened. The main segments are about 80 cm long, 40 cm wide and 20 cm thick. Ginger grows well in conditions which are hot and damp.
Ginger is propagated by dividing the rhizome into fingers, each of which contains a bud, and planting these about a foot apart. They grow rapidly and flower in the autumn. When the aerial stems wither, the rhizomes are dug up, fresh from roots and washed. They are then peeled with a narrow blade knife by which the layer of cork and part of the paren chime of the cortex are removed, at which they are again washed ad dried in the sun for up to seven days. This processed dry ginger is called Yaabis Zanjabeel in Arabic or Sunth in Urdu.
The taste of ginger is pungent The odour is aromatic
The mizaaj is hot and moist of fresh ginger and hot and dry of dried ginger
The use of ginger as a safe and effective medicine is so well established that no home or pharmacy should be without ginger. Thousands of years of use in Arabia, China, India, Pakistan and Europe testifies to its benefits. Modern research continues to research the uses of ginger and have confirmed much of the classical uses suggested by physicians such as Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushud of Muslim Spain and modern hakeems such as Sabir Multani and Dr Khalid Ghaznavi of Lahore, Pakistan. Due to the mizaj of ginger being hot and moist, it is an excellent medicine to use in any cold or phlegmatic condition, such as cold or flu. For colds and flu, bacterial or viral, ginger will be found most helpful, as it promotes heat, induces sweating and destroys germs and poisons.
The Circulatory system
Ginger, as we mentioned earlier, is warm and stimulating, therefore it is no surprise that ginger is an excellent medicine for circulation and heart conditions. Heart disease is the main cause of death and disability in the so-called "modern world". About two thirds of "modern human beings" have high blood cholesterol, half of which will have heart attacks, strokes or other circulatory diseases. The sources of all these circulatory diseases are not simple to identify, except that lifestyle contributes significantly. These modern conditions of furring of arteries, (Atherosclosis) or hardening of arteries is a major factor. This degeneration is a result of reduced circulation. Ginger helps to improve the quality of the contraction by preventing blood-clots. Ginger can act as a natural aspirin without the side effects of the tablet.
Memory and ginger
Dried ginger improves poor memory. For this purpose, 1 gram of powder in warm milk is an excellent way of using ginger.
Stomach and digestion
One of the most important and best known uses of ginger is on the digestive system. It is the classic medicine for dealing with many digestive disorders. Ginger promotes Haraarate Gharazi (digestive and metabolic fire), thus promoting digestive heat burning toxins and removing and lowering cholesterol deposits. Ginger is a pungent herb par excellence; we may call ginger as being stimulating carminative for digestion.
Nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting can be a problem when travelling. Dried ginger is found to be effective for nausea and vomiting due to travelling. For this purpose, 1 gram of dried ginger may be used 30 minutes before starting the journey and then one dose every four hours. Many women experience nausea and vomiting due to pregnancy. Dried ginger helps in these conditions too. The only condition in which ginger should not be used is when there are ulcers in the digestive system.
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