The many benefits of ginger.

Ginger" Spice, Medicine or Aphrodisiac?

Originally from Southeast Asia, ginger is a dried and peeled root that is now cultivated in many tropical countries. The word ginger comes from the Sanskrit word stringa-vera, meaning "with a body like a horn" in reference to the fact that it somewhat resembles antlers. Belonging to the same family as turmeric and cardamom, ginger has been used as a spice for hundreds of years.

Its mention in the Koran indicates that ginger was known in Arab countries as early as 650 A.D., and it has been widely used in Western Europe since the 9th century. In fact, ginger became so popular there that it was included alongside salt and pepper on every table. In 19th century England, small dishes of ground ginger were set out in pubs and taverns for people to sprinkle into their beer, hence the origin of ginger ale. In addition to its zesty culinary appeal, ginger also has many medicinal properties.

Ginger has been an important ingredient in Chinese medicine for many centuries and is referred to in the writings of Confucius. Because it is a known diaphoretic (a substance that encourages sweating), it is said that Henry VIII instructed the mayor of London to use ginger as a medicine to combat the plague. In addition to its diaphoretic properties, ginger has been used in the treatment of colds, to reduce inflammation, to relieve headaches and to improve digestion.

Because ginger is also known to stimulate circulation, it may increase sensitivity in the erogenous zones. Pair this with a heady scent and confidence-building properties, and you have the makings for a fine aphrodisiac one that has been used in some cultures for centuries.

The ancient Persian physician Avicenna was said to mix ginger with honey as a cure for impotence, and it is mentioned as an enhancement for love making in the Kama Sutra. The legendary French mistress Madame du Barry made a practice of serving ginger to her many lovers - including King Louis XV, and it was said to reduce them to a state of utter submissiveness.

In some cultures ginger is known as the spice of "burning desire." Currently in the Melanesian Islands of the South Pacific, ginger is used by men "'to gain the affection of women.' In Senegal, women wear ginger inside their belts to attract men, and it is said that women in New Guinea are powerless to the advances of men who emit a strong ginger scent.

Whether it is used as a spice, medicine or an aphrodisiac, ginger possesses many powerful properties. For its warm, rich flavor and pungent aroma alone, it is an ingredient worth having in any spice rack or medicine cabinet.


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