Spice: Ginger – Root of All Goodness

gingerrootI really enjoy the flavour of fresh ginger.  It is one of the ingredients of any serious spice cake and in many curries.  It adds a pleasant, pungent character wherever it is added and I often use ground ginger in place of pepper as a very interesting seasoning when I want a delicate ‘pepper-like’ effect.

Ginger root is a rhizome and is the main star in the Zingiberaceae family appropriately also known as the ginger family.  Included in this family are other varieties of ginger such as Thai ginger (galangal) as well as turmeric and cardamon. More than 2,000 years ago, ginger came to the Roman Empire by way of trade with India and became popular for its culinary and medicinal properties.  Along with pepper, it was a major commodity controlled by Arab traders who introduced it to Europe during the Medieval Ages. In the 13th and 14th century Europe, it was a favourite ingredient in many sweets and increasingly used for its medicinal properties.

Medical News Today: In every single one of their tests they found that the cancer cells died as a result of being in contact with the ginger solution – they either committed suicide (apoptosis) or they digested/attacked themselves (autophagy).

Here is a short list of its most common uses:

  • Motion sickness and any kind of nausea such as morning sickness and the after effects of chemotherapy (safe to use during pregnancy).  Shown to be superior to over the counter motion sickness medications such as Dramaine effectively reducing or eliminating the common symptoms of nausea, cold-sweats, dizziness and vomiting.
  • It is an excellent carminative (reduces intestinal gas), stomach ache and colic.
  • Gastro-intenstinal pain.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Vomiting after surgery
  • It is also recognized as an effective natural anti-inflammatory shown to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds and helpful for relieving arthritis pain.
  • Records show that more than 2,000 years ago, China used it for diarrhea, nausea, digestion and stomach upsets.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) considers ginger root a warming remedy and used it against symptoms of the common cold as well as warming up the body when one feels chilly.

Several scientific studies have been made that have shown its therapeutic value in treating the following (see references at end of this article).

Ginger should not be used if you have a bleeding disorder or take blood-thinning medications (aspirin, warfarin etc.) or beta-blockers as ginger in high does may enhance their effects.  Medicinal doses of ginger should not be taken with  such drugs.  It is either one or the other.  Acts as a blood thinner, so curb use  two weeks before surgery if you take it regularly and in high doses.   Consult with your health practitioner or medical herbalist.

  • Protects the colon.  Inflammation of the colon is a known precursor to colon cancer.
  • Reduces exercise related muscular pain when taken at least three days before strenuous exercise, during and a few days after compared to the same test without ginger supplementation (it seems fresh or dried made no difference).
  • Liver damage caused by paracetamol (Tylenol in the US).  It was found that when pre-treatment with ginger and taken with paracetamol in cases where it was prescribed, protected against hepatotoxicity (chemically caused liver damage). (3)
  • Painful menstruation was helped by 82% of women tested against a placebo group. (4)
  • In laboratory tests, ginger destroyed ovarian cancer cells.  It seems they either committed suicide (apoptosis) or attacked each other…somehow rather funny, isn’t it?)
  • Anti-hypertensive (lowers high blood pressure). (5)
  • In a double blind trial involving 100 participants suffering from migranes, it was found that using ginger powder was comparable to the most commonly used migrane medicines (Sumatriptann Imitrex, Treximet, Imigran, Imigran). (6)
  • Upper respiratory tract relief (bronchitis, etc.)  And there are several studies showing how isolated ginger constituents when used with  common asthma medications boosts their effectiveness resulting in lesser doses of the medication..
  • Various scientific abstracts have shown the effect of ginger to inhibit platelet aggregation.

Human trials have been few and generally used a low dose with inconclusive results, however dosages of 5 g or more demonstrated significant anti-platelet activity.

What am I sipping on while finishing this article?  Tea steeped with several shaved slices of fresh ginger in it, what else?

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