Ginger has remained synonymous with Asian cooking for thousands of years. Its root spices up oriental stir fry dishes, is eaten pickled with sushi, and lends its unique zesty flavor to gingerbread cookies.
But its remarkable healing properties and widespread availability have made ginger root the most widely used herbal remedy on the planet. Literally billions of people use ginger every day as both food and medicine.
Although used in Asian medicine for over 2,500 years, the powerful healing benefits of ginger have only recently begun to be understood by Western medical practitioners. Clinical studies now prove many of the amazing claims long held by herbalists.
Ginger prevents and relieves nausea
Many mothers use ginger ale for the treatment of upset little tummies. Mom’s remedy has scientific legs to stand on. For example, controlled clinical studies have shown ginger is more effective than Dramamine for treating motion sickness. It has been found to magnify the effects metoclopramide, a common post-operative antinausea drug for increased relief of nausea and vomiting after surgery. And it even relieves nausea from the drug methoxsalen used in certain forms of chemotherapy.
Ginger ends inflammation and pain
Ginger serves as a powerful natural anti-inflammatory and stimulates improved blood circulation. One modern study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and muscular discomfort found taking powdered ginger relieved pain in over 75% of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers and all patients with muscular discomfort benefited. Pointing to the safety of the medicinal use of ginger compared to steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, not one patient reported a single adverse side effect by the end of the three year study.
Ginger as an antiparasitic compound
Ginger is frequently served with sushi to combat parasites as well as offer a complementary dish. The chemical zingibain found in ginger dissolves many parasites and their eggs, including the anisakid worm sometimes found in raw fish. Ginger tea has also been found helpful in the treatment of the parasitic disease schistosomiasis contracted by visitors to some lesser developed tropical areas.
Ginger even beats cold and flu symptoms
The ginger compound shagaol kills cold viruses at a concentration found in ordinary raw ginger making ginger an effective cold remedy. Ginger’s pain relieving properties bring relief to flu and strep throat sufferers. As a diaphoretic, ginger even induces sweating to help the body remove toxins and reduce mucous congestion.
And there’s more…
Ginger provides an amazing wealth of healing properties besides those already mentioned. One additional anti-inflammatory effect of ginger is its ability to offset platelet activating factor (PAF) inflammation related to allergies and asthmas caused by chemical changes in the body caused by high fat diets.
PAF combined with high cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart attack. Ginger provides heart protection by both inhibiting PAF activity and lowering triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels.
Other uses of ginger, such as protecting the liver from the toxic effects of seizure medicines like Depakene have also been noted.
How to take Ginger
Ginger can be eaten raw, cooked, crystallized or pickled. For medicinal purposes, ginger extract is usually taken in capsule form. This is particularly common for anti-inflammatory purposes where a higher dosage of ginger is required than most people would consume in their daily diet.
Moderate use of ginger is considered safe for pregnant or nursing women, though daily intake should be limited to 2-3 grams (2-3 tablespoons of raw ginger or 5-8 tablespoons of cooked ginger), taken over the course of the day.
While ginger is considered very safe, as with any supplement you should consult your doctor first, particularly if taking any prescription medication or suffering from gallstones as ginger can increase the potency of some medicines.
Written By: Updated: October 26,2009