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The cultivation, composition and usage of wild ginger (Siphonochilus aethiopicus (Schweinf) B.L. Burtt)

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Abstract

Wild ginger (Siphonochilus aethiopicus (Schweinf) B.L. Burtt) is a perennial herb of the family Zingiberaceae which is lesser known than its counterpart ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe). Nevertheless, it is also used as a spice and medicinally just like ginger. It improves the flavour of food and could act as a food preservative in view of its antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Additionally, it is highly prised medicinally and there is an accumulation of evidence for its usage as an antiinflammatory, anti-plasmodial, anti-thrush and an indication for allergies, asthma, candidiasis, headache, influenza, menstrual cramps, sinusitis and sore throat among other conditions. There have been investigations to optimise its cultivation since it was going extinct in the wild in certain areas mainly due to over harvesting for medicinal usage. Research to identify the active constituents, verify the pharmacological actions and to ascertain the potent odourants and flavour properties is also ongoing. This article thus aims at reviewing the available data on these investigations and the basis for its usage in food flavouring as well as in several diseases and conditions.

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