The health benefits of ginger include relief from digestive issues, relief from cough and cold, remedy from other respiratory diseases like influenza, bronchitis, whooping cough, relief from nausea, stomach ache, motion sickness and seasickness, healing of gastric ulcers and protection of liver.
Ginger is one of the oldest known herbs and condiments known to man. For many thousands of years, it has been used as a medicine as well as a culinary additive spice. But, most of it is centred around its medicinal usage. Ginger is a rhizome which grows underground. The leaves of ginger give out a peculiar scent and flavor when they are cut or bruised. This scent is very similar to mild scent of ginger.
There is a little confusing over where exactly ginger originated, whether in India or China. It is equally popular in both India and China for a very long time. The Sanskrit name for Ginger is Singabera, which means the horns of a deer, as ginger resembles the horn of a deer. This name was transformed into Zingiberi in Greek and Zingiber in Latin. The official name of ginger is Zingiber officinale is of Latin origin. At present, India and China are the largest producers of ginger in the world, producing about 380, 100 and 331,000 tonnes annually.
For centuries, ginger was used as a folklore remedy for seasickness, nausea, colds, aches and pains, etc. These uses have recently been confirmed by science to be legitimate.
Nutrition in ginger
According to the National Nutrient Database from the United States Department of Agriculture, the nutrient values found in ginger include
|Nutritional Component||Value per 100 g||Nutritional Component||Value per 100 g|
|Water||79 g||Energy||74 kcal|
|Protein||2.6 g||Total Lipid||0.1 g|
|Carbohydrate||17.23 g||Dietary Fiber||4.9 g|
|Calcium||45 mg||Iron||1.16 mg|
|Magnesium||23 mg||Phosphorous||100 mg|
|Potassium||556 mg||Sodium||40 mg|
|Zinc||0.39 mg||Vitamin C||44 mg|
|Thiamin||0.16 mg||Riboflavin||0.22 mg|
|Niacin||0.4 mg||Vitamin B-6||0.25 mg|
Apart from these regular nutritional components, research has also shown that ginger contains biochemicals such as gingerol, camphene, beta-phellendrane, curcumene, cineole, geranyl acetate, terphineol, terpenes, borneol, geraniol, limonene, linalool, etc. Research is ongoing to assess the medicinal properties of these biochemicals. (Ghosh, 2011).
Is it safe to ginger to my baby?
Many parents have a concern whether or not spices, herbs or condiments such as ginger can be given to their babies or not. Yes, ginger is generally regarded as safe for your baby. You can add ginger in your baby’s food to make it more interesting and spicy. It is also believed that adding very less quantity of spices like ginger to baby’s diet is actually much better than adding salt or sugar in baby’s food. The ideal time to introduce ginger into baby’s diet is after solid foods have been introduced. If solid food is introduced by 6 months, then wait until the baby is at least 8 months old for introducing ginger.
Health benefits of ginger for babies
Here are some of the health benefits of ginger for babies
Remedy for digestive issues: One of the major benefits of ginger is that it provides remedy for digestive problems such as indigestion, constipation, flatulence, etc. Including small amounts of ginger in your baby’s diet will eradicate such digestive issues which are otherwise seen in babies. (Ghosh, 2011).
Remedy for stomach ache: If your child is suffering from stomach ache caused by dyspepsia, flatulence, colic spasms or other painful stomach issues, a quarter spoon of ginger juice mixed with half a teaspoon of fresh lime juice can be given to the baby. This should be given twice daily (HK Bakhru, Nature Cure For Children).
Reduces nausea and motion sickness: For many centuries, sailors have been using ginger as an effective remedy for seasickness, motion sickness and nausea. It is not a superstition but, now it is a fact that ginger reduces nausea and motion sickness. Little amounts of ginger can be given along with food to reduce the chances of esophagal reflux or food vomiting in babies. (Pakrashi, Ginger: A Versatile Healing Herb).
Heals gastric ulcers: Gastric ulcer is one of the risks that infants and toddlers face during the first few years. The stomach lining of infants and children might not be as strong as that of adults, resulting in ulcers from stomach acid juices. Giving them ginger keeps these ulcers at bay by healing them way before they become a threat. (Ghosh, 2011).
Effectively treats cold and cough: For many centuries, ginger has been one of the prominent medicines for treating cold and cough. It has been proved due to the fact that the biochemicals found in ginger control the spread of rhinoviruses which are responsible for spreading cold and cough. So, you can give ginger boiled in water when your baby is suffering from cold and cough. (Malhotra, Singh, 2003).
Remedy for whooping cough: Whooping cough or pertussis is a contagious disease and it can cause serious trouble to lungs. Newborns and infants with their lack of resistance can be easily affected by whooping cough, apart from toddlers and children. One of the best remedies is to mix a teaspoonful of ginger juice with decoction made from half a teaspoonful of fenugreek seeds. This mixture can be given to the baby in small quantities (HK Bakhru, Nature Cure For Children).
Can treat bronchitis: Bronchitis is a common disease in children which results from the inflammation of the mucus membrane resulting in breathing difficulty. By mixing dried ginger powder, pepper powder and long pepper powder in equal quantities mixed with honey (for toddlers only) should be given thrice daily (HK Bakhru, Nature Cure For Children).
Remedy for other respiratory problems: According to CDC, influenza is a respiratory disease that affects roughly about 20000 children below the age of 5 years in the US alone. Apart from giving flu vaccine, one of the best home remedies for influenza is ginger. Mix fresh ginger juice with fenugreek decoction and give it to babies. Only small amounts are required as both ginger and fenugreek seeds are hot and pungent in nature. (Bakhru, Herbs That Heal).
Protects liver: Though liver is a strong and resilient organ in the body, liver of an infant still might not be strong. In such cases, ginger can be given to your baby to strengthen liver. Ginger has been noted to provide liver protection. Studies indicate that liver toxicities were reduced when ginger extracts were given. (Ghosh, 2011).
Reduces flatulence: Ginger has been traditionally used as a remedy for flatulence or intestinal gas. Studies have shown that ginger can in fact reduce flatulence to a great extent (Lohsiriwat, 2010).
Safety measures while giving ginger to your baby
Do not give too much ginger: Ginger is a strong, hot and pungent spice that must be given in very small quantities to babies. Babies cannot take the overwhelming smell and flavor of ginger just yet. Start by adding ginger the size of an orange seed to your baby’s food. Also make sure that you pulverize that small piece and mix it well with the food.
Do not add honey to compensate for taste: Adding honey to ginger juice is a common practice in naturopathy. It is good enough at least for toddlers (who are above 1 year of age) but not for infants. Honey may contain spores of bacteria that can cause serious infant botulism.
Be on the lookout for allergies: Though ginger does not come under the purview of an allergic food, yet it is better to be on the lookout for allergies in babies. There is no rule of thumb that says otherwise. Instead, follow the 4-day test rule.