Category Archives: Medicinal spice

Ginger – 5 reasons why you should include it in your daily diet


Cranberry sauce with Ginger - A Whole Foods suggested Recipe

Zingiber officinale or ginger is native to Asia, where it has been known to have been used by cultures over four thousand years.  In Asia it is a popular accompaniment to most meal plans or used as a cooking spice. Scientists have shown the presence of several volatile oils and pungent phenols and are researching the active ingredients for traditional therapies. Click here for hundreds of photographs of ginger rhizome, the flowering plant and illustrations (although some are of animals and people named ginger).

A Ginger Rhizome at the Grocery Store

GINGER RESEARCH – 5 major health benefits

The ginger rhizome extracts could reduce bacterial load (Gaus et. al., 2009); have strong anti-oxidative activity (Kikuzaki & Nakatani, 2006); and have potential anticancer agents (Miyoshi et. al., 2003), especially gastric cancer chemo-prevention (Gaus et. al., 2009). Ginger extracts have strong inhibitory effects on COX-2 enzyme activity, an enzyme responsible for inflammation and pain (Tjendraputra et. al., 2001).

GINGER SCIENCE

Ginger has been used fresh or as a dried powder. The rhizome of the plant holds the active ingredients used in traditional therapies. The fresh rhizome is the form in which ginger is sold and it is used in Asia in hot, boiling teas which probably assists in extracting the active ingredients. Herbalists supply it as extracts, tinctures, capsules and oils. For more information on the biology, and volatile and non-volatile constituents of ginger visit the University of Maryland Medical Center site which includes ginger on its list of top ten foods that prevent inflammation.

Alpinia purpurata - Hawaiian Red Ginger plant in the field

Ginger has been traditionally used to treat:

The common cold; Motion sickness; Chemotherapy nausea; and Inflammation.

It is so easy to include a little amount of ginger in your daily diet. Doing so may prevent some inflammation from bacteria, and pain and certain types of cancer. Below we include examples of how different people all around the world are doing so.

RECIPES WITH GINGER 

Please, visit the sites below with links for the ginger recipes by different authors, several creative and delicious international ones from our wordpress community:

1) Hot tea – soothing

Add slices of fresh ginger to boiling water and continue to boil for two minutes, add favorite tea bag or loose tea and steep following directions one to nine minutes. Visit this amazing Boston tea site for ginger teas.

2) Alcoholic – delightful

Visit Aimee’s site for a ginger mojito.

3) Fabulous chicken meal – great for hungry men.

Tested by brothers and made by a loving sister.

4) Healthy fruit sauce – tested by busy graduate student.

Uses a teaspoon of dried ginger in a apple-pear sauce.

5) A mouth-watering apricot chicken recipe.

Uses ginger powder and incorporates caramelized figs.

6) A fish recipe – ginger glazed salmon.
Utilizes the juice of fresh ginger.

7) The classic gingerbread man.

A recipe that makes lots of ginger cookies using ginger powder.

8) An amazingly beautiful chicken soup for the common cold.

9) Apple peel, jalapeno, ginger jelly – Wow!

A creative young man came up with this clever “Keep the doctor away” sweet, spicy and HOT recipe that you can keep in a jar.

10) A delicious chocolate cake with ginger by ‘Eatmeetswest’ is simply delicious.

This cake makes it easier for the young creator of this AWESOME recipe to cope with those Australian winters.

The main ingredient is ginger and this recipe uses a generous helping of it! The photos and step by step guide are so helpful on this site.

11) The cranberry sauce with ginger sauce recipe from Whole Foods.
Perfect, for family fall gatherings like Thanksgiving, or a year – round recipe for sour and spicy good times.

GROWING GINGER – at home :

According to a ginger enthusiast in Hawaii, it is not too complicated to grow ginger at home. It would be fun to try it to have a constant fresh supply at home.

Hawaiian Ginger - 5 days after leaves noticed on planting

Hawaiian ginger - One month after sprouting

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Aloe: sunburn relief and more


Aloe extracts soothe a sun burn. I don’t know if that is FDA approved or not. However, I would not use any thing else if I were to be sunburnt. The reason being I have been sunburnt badly and I was saved by Aloe. I was vacationing in Barbados and fell asleep under the sun by the poolside. A few hours later, I was in much pain and my skin was peeling. The local people quickly slit open a few thick, fresh Aloe leaves, emptied it’s contents into a little bowl and applied it all over my sunburnt skin. I healed so quickly. I became a convert and a staunch Aloe worshipper. I got an Aloe plant and repotted it as it grew. It does not need much water. I can even leave on vacations to get sunburnt again and return to an Aloe plant that was thriving in spite of not being watered while I was away! That’s my kind of house plant: Low nurture – High value. I include several photos below.

By the way, I was vacationing in the Maldives, a country where the people have this fabulous skin that has been genetically selected to never get sunburnt. So naturally, they had no idea what the Aloe plant was when I got sunburnt, again. They handed me some bottled concoction recommended in medical lectures to diligent students, who had never heard of or taught about Aloe for free, natural sunburn relief. I was left with a hefty fee and I was very disappointed with it’s results. Once burnt with no Aloe, I am twice shy. I now always travel with bagged slices of the leaves of my Aloe plant. I am so Brilliant! I found that in Hawaii and Florida too, the doctors do not prescribe free Aloe for sunburn.

The international varieties of Aloe are seemingly endless, as you can see from the photos below. I have no idea if all the Aloe varieties behave the same way or not. If you do know the species names of the Aloe that do give sunburn relief then please share it here. Below, I am including photographs of all the varieties that I saw at the New York Botanical Garden conservatory. I would highly recommend that trip just to see this fascinating display of Aloe in the most beautiful display. It will make you want to go home and uproot your manicured garden and replace it with a low water requiring stunning Aloe garden. However, unless you are in a desert climate you may have to invest in a sunroom – just a minor adjustment but a fabulous mood enhancer and spirit uplifter.

Properties:

There have been claims of both effectiveness and ineffectiveness of Aloe gel in wound healing, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-neoplastic, immunostimulant and promotion of radiation damage. The differences in activity may be because of seasonal fluctuations and the several cultivar varieties around the world (see photos below). Conflicting results in wound healing in particular may be dependent upon compound stability as time of treatment after harvesting was an important factor. A 5.5kDa Glycoprotein isolated from Aloe gel has shown increased cell migration and mobility. This in my opinion is good news for wound healing and explains why my sunburns may have responded so well to freshly harvested Aloe leaves.

A Pharmaceutical scientist from Tshwane University of South Africa, has reviewed in great detail the effects and applications of the Aloe leaf gel and if you are interested in one content filled article, then this 2008 review is the one I would recommend. 75 ingredients in the inner leaf gel have been identified but only a few have been correlated with therapeutic activities. A synergistic effect of many components in the leaf gel probably bring about the healing that I raved about above.  Aloe vera is the single most Aloe species that is used in large scale manufacture of Aloe leaf gel for cosmetics, pharmaceutical products and health drinks.

The Aloe leaf has an outer hard green rind and an inner colorless viscous liquid gel. The gel is over 99% water and about 1% enzymes, minerals, vitamins, polysaccharides, phenolic compounds and organic acids. The large varieties of Aloe show variations among cultivars and seasonal fluctuations in their mannose containing polysaccharides. The acemannan found in Aloe is structurally unique and is a characteristic of Aloe species.

Aloe vera gel increased the bioavailability of Vitamin C in the laboratory. The Aloe vera gel is being researched as a vehicle to enhance transdermal delivery of drugs.

Aloe juice is being bottled and sold. Now, I have no comments on that. If you do, please, discuss it here. A scientist at University of Karachi, Pakistan has studied the anti-epileptic properties of Aloe for a doctoral thesis. Also, some have bottled Aloe as a laxative ingredient.

Why should you not use aloe extracts as a laxative? The FDA (The Food and Drug Administration, USA) has issued a warning about Aloe after reviewing data. The FDA’s final warning in 2002 advises that aloe extracts and flower extracts are generally unsafe, ineffective or misbranded as stimulant laxative ingredients. So, my advice would be to avoid using laxatives listing aloe extracts as an ingredient. The scientists at University of Illinois at Chicago’s Department of Pharmacy explains why. Anthraquinone category of stimulant laxatives are derived from natural sources such as Aloe extracts. The International Aloe Science Council filed a petition saying that FDA did not base that decision on appropriate data but that decision remains unchanged. So, if you visit a foreign country and finds the natives using Aloe extract as a laxative successfully, you may want to bring it to the attention of a reputable Department of Pharmacy.

Photos of Aloe plant from the New York Botanical Garden Conservatory are below:

Large, Grey leaves

Large Green Leaves

Dark Green Medium Leaves

Dark Green Small Leaves

Light Green Variegated Leaves

Light Green Small Leaves

Dark Green Tiny Leaves

The Tree Aloe

Soft Green White Flecked Leaves

Dark Green White Flecked Leaves

Spiky Dark Green Small Leaves

Dark Green Very Small Leaves

Light Green Large Slim Leaves

Light Green Large Upright Leaves

Purplish Green Small Variegated Leaves

Yellow Green Small Bushy Leaves

Light Green Small Orange Spiked Leaves

Dark Green Small Bushy Leaves

Purplish Brown Small Leaves

Now, that you can that there are several varieties of Aloe plants all over the world beginning exploring how you can benefit from it. Especially, when you are planning a vacation on the beach (1,2, 3,4,5,6, 7,8, 9, 10, ). You may want to begin today.

This article has been cited by DIDI of scoop.it for “Top home remedies”.

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Healthy Ginger Zucchini Cupcakes (via Daily Crave)


Try this excellent and healthy recipe for your family. It has ginger, whose qualities I have raved about in a previous article, and zucchini, which I shall be researching in more detail later but is a nutritious vegetable.

Ginger Zucchini Cupcakes with an Orange-Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting If you're anything like me, right around this time of year you begin to get the Autumn itch.  The nights are slowly evolving into a cool calm, the scent of the outside air begins to change, and the anticipation for the fall festivities ahead has you wound up with total excitement! What better way to transition into the best time of year, than to unite the two worlds of summer and spice in this delicious cupcake.  My father in-law graciously gifte … Read More

via Daily Crave

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Saffron


Crocus sativus L.

Crocus is native to Asia Minor and Southern Europe. Saffron is obtained from the stigmas of the flower, which flowers in autumn. Crocus sativus L. is a major agricultural crop, in northeastern Iran. Not only is saffron one of the most ancient spices of the old world, since ancient times, the genetics of this plant has remained unchanged. The labor intensive method of removing the stigmas from the saffron flowers has made the product extremely expensive. Hence, this product may be found in the market place adulterated (Negbi, 2004).

A field of Saffron and the Saffron harvesters

Photo curtsey from: The Penthouse Kitchen

Medicinal value of Saffron

Ancient medicine uses included antispasmodic, carminative, expectorant, aphrodisiac, stimulant, cardiotonic, and stomachic (Zargari, 1993).  In modern medicine, crocus plant constituents are used as an exhilarant and curative of anxiety (Mirheidar, 1994; Salomi MJ, Nair SC and Panikkar KR, 1991). The orange-yellow coloring principle is crocin.

Saffron: Photo curtsey Vaishali Parekh

Pharmacological research has shown the extract of saffron to have antitumor effects (Rojhan , 1995), radical scavenger activities (Nair SC, Kurumboor SK, Hasegawa JH., 1995) and hypolipaemic effects (DerMarderosian, 2001). Research shows potential usefulness in neurodegenerative disorders connected with memory impairment (Abe and Saito, 2000). In addition, Kaempferol, an extract of saffron petals has potential as an anitdepressant (Hadizadeh, 2003; Karimi G, Hosseinzadeh H and Khaleghpanah P. 2001).

There are other varieties of Crocus sp. which are highly valuable and economically important in the garden as flowering plants. However, the saffron producing European crop is in danger of extinction. Saffron production has decreased dramatically in many European countries and is already extinct in England and Germany. The world Saffron and Crocus collection makes available a wide variety of over twenty Crocus genotypes. It aims to slow down the genotypic erosion and hosts a database of Crocus species from various countries.

Recipe suggestions:

Visit Vaishali Parekh’s site which has a delicious Indian recipe using saffron.

Visit The Penthouse Kitchen site, caterers serving you recipes using saffron.

Experts on Crocus sativus :

1. Moshe Negbi 
Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel

2. Farzin Hadizadeh*a,b, Naaman Khalilia, Hossein Hosseinzadeha,b, Randa Khair-Aldinea. Faculty of  Pharmacy, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran,  bBu-Ali Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Center, Bu-Ali Square, Mashhad, Iran.

Corresponding author for reference on kaempferol: Email: fhadizadeh@yahoo.com

References:

1. Negbi, Moshe. 2004.

Saffron. ‘Prelims’, Saffron, 1:1, 1 – 12 . Edited by Dr Roland Hardman; Harvood academic publishers; The Netherlands. ISBN 0-203-30366-0 Master e-book ISBN

2. Farzin Hadizadeh*a,b, Naaman Khalilia, Hossein Hosseinzadeha,b, Randa Khair-Aldinea 2003. Kaempferol from Saffron Petals. Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research : 251-252.

3) Zargari A. Medicinal Plants, 1993. Volume 4, Tehran University Press, Tehran : 574-578.

4) Mirheidar H. Maarif-e Ghiahi, Farhang-e. 1994. Eslami Press, Tehran : 341-5 6

5) Salomi MJ, Nair SC and Panikkar KR. 1991. Inhibitory effects of Nigella sativa and Crocus sativus on chemical carcinogenesis in mice. Nutr. Cancer (1991) 16: 67-72 .

6) Rojhan MS. 1995, Herbal drugs and treatment. Alavi Press, Tehran :87

7) Nair SC, Kurumboor SK, Hasegawa JH.. 1995. Saffron chemoprevention in biology and medicine. Cancer Biother. 10: 257-264.

8) DerMarderosian. 2001. A. Review of Natural Products, Facts and Comparison, Missouri :520.

9) Abe k and Saito H. 2000. Effects of saffron extract on learning behavior and long-term potentiation. Phytother. Res. 14: 149-152.

10) Karimi G, Hosseinzadeh H and Khaleghpanah P.. 2001. Study of antidepressant effect of aqueous and ethanol extract of Crocus sativus in mice. Iranian J. Basic Sciences 4: 186-190.

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