Why is ginger so good for you?
Out of all of the many popular natural medicines and remedies, ginger has become one of the most popular.
It’s been used as an ingredient in many popular over-the-counter medicines like Med-lemon and other hot flu-fighting preparations.
Many eastern cultures have added it to certain dishes to add nutrients and other benefits as well as boost the immune system.
Besides being very healthy, it is quite delicious.
But what is it that has people revering it as a miracle plant?
Ginger is a root
Ginger root is the rhizome; a modified subterranean plant stem of the flowering plants, Zingiber officinale.
According to Wikipedia, it is a herbaceous perennial plant that grows pseudostems (false stems made of the rolled bases of leaves) annually about one-meter-tall bearing narrow leaf blades.
Ginger is widely used as a spice and folk medicine.
It can be described as spicy and has a similar flavour profile to garlic and onions, although ginger is sweeter. Its flavour is adaptable to both savoury dishes and dessert.
The three plants have been dubbed the three musketeers of the natural medicine world.
Garlic (Allium sativum), ginger (Zingiber officinale) and onions (Allium cepa) are known in Traditional Chinese Medicine for having powerful antioxidant, blood purifying, detoxifying, and immune-strengthening properties says Conscious Cookery.
All can be cooked or eaten raw for maximum nutritional benefit. The flavour of fresh ginger may be overwhelming for more sensitive palates though. It can really pack a punch! But the heat can open up your nasal passages pretty quickly (think Wasabi!).
Ginger tea is a longstanding digestive aid and can help to settle an upset tummy. It assists with relieving flatulence and eliminates any bad tastes and odours in the mouth and more in-depth digestive tract.
Proper digestion has been linked to people feeling more energetic, more alert and all-round wellness. Digestion also absorbs vitamins and minerals from food into the bloodstream. Ginger has been proven to improve digestion directly, whether it’s in its natural form or as a tablet, capsule or syrup medicine.
In a recent study, healthy participants were given ginger capsules (1200 mg) with a meal every day. The study showed that people went to eliminate their bowels in half the time it would take someone who hadn’t been given a supplement!
Usually described as a persistent feeling of fullness, functional dyspepsia is the clinical term used to describe upper abdominal discomfort. Patients experience acid reflux, which is unpleasant, to say the least!
Experts believe that these symptoms are indicative of a slowing digestive system. It has been used to lessen symptoms and offer some relief as a natural laxative and antacid. Because of the gastric emptying that occurs, heartburn decreases. This, according to Chopra Centre, is owing to increased motility in the digestive system.
Pregnant women love ginger! A bold statement perhaps, but it is well known that ginger flavoured sweets and cool drinks like Stoney are great for stopping morning sickness in its tracks.
It helps all nausea, though. Nausea is essentially an upset stomach. Whether you have overeaten, or are trying to ease the symptoms of pregnancy, chemotherapy or post-op recovery; try it.
How does Ginger work?
Well, the main bioactive component in fresh ginger is gingerols. The gingerols increase digestive responsiveness and speed up stomach emptying.
Gengerol’s related compound, shogaols, is more concentrated in dried ginger sources such as capsules or tea. Besides combatting nausea and aiding indigestion, it can also ease the effects of heartburn, particularly in pregnant women. Because they are a natural remedy, they aren’t contraindicated in pregnancy.
The spice has anti-inflammatory properties and may improve digestion and support the release of blood-pressure-regulating hormones to calm your body and reduce nausea, explains Healthline.
As with all things, ginger is to be taken in moderation. Studies have shown that it reacts negatively on blood-thinning medications and worsens bleeding in women in labour.
People with gall bladder disease are also advised to take precautions when using ginger-based supplements. It can increase the flow of bile in your body.
Menstrual cramp remedy
Cut up some fresh ginger root and steep it in some boiled water. Drink while still warm. Many women have lauded the mixture of heat and anti-inflammatory properties for instantly relieving dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) in women. Certain studies have likened the effects in menstruation to that of the popular drug Ibuprofen.
How is ginger consumed?
There are many ways to benefit from the health effects of ginger. The taste may not be for everyone, so don’t fret if you can’t stomach all these methods. Find a way to consume it that suits you.
Also, remember that before you start taking any supplement (whether natural or not) that you should always consult your doctor. Having medical insurance will make that more affordable.
Fresh ginger root is potent but the most versatile. Steep it, or add it to food and smoothies. Simple. It adds a lovely, spicy component to any meal or beverage.
Ground ginger can be used in the same way, although it is better for baking things like biscuits (a great way to get some into the kids for their immune booster!)
- Ginger capsules – This is the easiest way to get ginger into your diet — especially if you aren’t a fan of the taste!
- Ginger teas – These are great to have on hand if you feel nauseated or want to settle your stomach after eating and are readily available at most stores.
- Ginger chews are like candies and tend to be milder in flavour and can be taken anywhere. Make sure to check the ingredients to make sure you’re not consuming unwanted ingredients like corn syrup.
- Ginger oil can be taken internally or rubbed topically to treat pain. The essential oil is useful for massages.