Ginger (Zingiberaceae) is a spice with many faces. You’ll find it adding zest to a ginger ale, in soups, as a scintillating spice used to flavor most Mediterranean, South Asian, Thai and Chinese cuisines, and as a herbal remedy for digestion and sore throat.
While studies suggest of ginger’s ability to treat cancer, prevent diabetes, most of them were done on cell cultures and rats. Human trials, on the other hand, were either inconclusive or culturally biased. So even though ginger might not be a cure for cancer (or world peace for that matter), it has proved its effectiveness in other realms, in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. Ginger is beneficial…
As a Nausea Reliever
Though the exact mechanisms of ginger as an effective nausea inhibitor are unknown, researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Centre think the active volatile oils and phenol compounds such as gingerols and shogaols soothe and relax the esophagus and regulate stomach acidity, thereby preventing vomiting and relieving nausea.
Examine.com, one of the more popular and unbiased source on supplements and herbs suggest consuming 1-3 grams of ginger as a preventative treatment for all forms of nausea, including morning sickness and nausea due to chemotherapy.
To treat peptic ulcers
Research funded by King Saud University in Saudi Arabia found that ginger extract played a major role in reducing the severity of ulcerative colitis by promoting the excretion of mucous that forms the stomach lining. Another study suggested the increase in gastric juices as a consequence of consuming ginger extract helped eradicate the Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori) virus that eats the mucosal lining of stomach leading to ulcers and inflammation. Nearly all studies on ginger unanimously agreed on the anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-emetic effects of ginger, primarily due to its constituent compounds.
As a digestive tonic
Traditional Chinese Medicine has promoted ginger teas and ginger soup as digestive tonic for long.
Our stomach produces gastric juices with essential enzymes to digest food. A whole spectrum of digestive enzymes exist over the pH range from 2 to 11 to digest and breakdown fats, proteins and carbohydrates into simpler nutrients which can be used by the body for cellular regeneration and energy. As we get old, stress, diet and environmental factors adversely affect our digestive system as a result of which gastric juices and production of enzymes is reduced considerably. This leaves undigested food in the intestines which overtime turns into harmful bacteria. To compensate for loss in enzymes, our body’s contingency mechanisms fire up, causing stomach to produce more acid and digestive juices. The result: bloating, flatulence, reflux and hyperacidity.
To bring your stomach back on track, try adding ginger to your daily diet. As a digestive tonic, ginger helps rejuvenate the production of ‘useful gastric juice’ with digestive enzymes to optimally breakdown food for use as an energy source.
Simply add ginger to your tea, meals, broths or soups as a digestive aid for long term health.
As an aid to relieve menstrual cramps
Menstrual cramps affect a major percentage of women. Instead of resorting to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as Ibuprofen, Acetaminophens or Aspirin, painful menstrual cramps are often well addressed with the likes of Ginger.
Use of ginger as an effective menstrual cramps reliever was studied in a trial containing 150 reproductive aged college students diagnosed with primary dysmenorrheal. Women were divided into groups whereby one received ginger powder capsules, the second received 250 mg mefenamic acid capsules (another popular NSAID and the third group took ibuprofen capsules during their menses. It was concluded that the severity of dysmenorrhea decreased in all groups and no differences were found between the ginger and control groups in terms of pain severity, pain relief or satisfaction. Furthermore, a greater percentage of women in the ginger group became completely pain free as compared to mefenamic acid and ibuprofen groups.
While this was just a singular study and a need for more investigative studies on the effects of ginger exists, it is generally safe to for one to try it out in moderate doses.
As a treatment for Sore throat and Common Cold
Ginger as a treatment for symptoms of common cold and sore throat has been approved by Dr. Oz himself! The anti-inflammatory immune boosting properties of ginger help alleviate symptoms of common cold while phenols within ginger help warm the body and break down the accumulation of toxins and phlegm in the throat.
Though it is recommended to take ginger supplement or raw ginger daily in juices or tea, one can ingest it directly as well during cold season to keep the body warm and immune system in high gear. If you plan to exercise restraint and take it to treat flu and cold, do so at the onset of symptoms and thrice daily. Continue to do so until symptoms disappear.