Native to south eastern Asia, Ginger has long since been prized for its culinary and medicinal properties. Modern research has found that ginger has a variety of different properties that can lead to the following health benefits:
- Soothes the Digestive System
Historically ginger has been used in herbal medicine to alleviate stomach discomfort. It is the phenolic compounds within the ginger that are believed to play an important role in this. It is therefore regarded as an excellent intestinal spasmolytic as it relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract. It is also a good carminative as it encourages the elimination of intestinal gas.
- Reduces Nausea
Ginger is also very useful anti-sickness substance and has even been known to reduce the most severe forms of morning sickness. A study into the morning sickness in 70 pregnant women found that the feeling of nausea and the number of vomiting episodes significantly decreased in the group that took 1g of ginger per day compared to those who didn’t. What’s more drinking ginger tea or chewing on raw ginger is also a very common home anti-sickness remedy during cancer treatment, but there is a lack of research into this therapy.
Ginger has also been used for centuries to help reduce inflammation and pain. It is a group of compounds called gingerols that are the potent anti-inflammatory mediators in ginger. These compounds inhibit the production of nitric acid that can damage tissues and cause inflammation. Research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine also found that ginger suppresses pro-inflammatory compounds that are mainly found in the lining of our joints. This sheds light on why ginger is being used by arthritis patients as a home remedy to improve their mobility and reduce pain.
- Immune booster
As ginger is a diaphoretic it promotes healthy sweating, which is important in feverish conditions such as colds and flus. Sweating can give your immune system a boost and assist in detoxification as well as help you control your body temperature during an infection.
- Reduces the risk of colorectal and ovarian cancer
Ginger has also been found to help prevent the development of colorectal cancer and induce cell death in ovarian cancer cells. A study from researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Hormel Institute found that when mice were given gingerol three times a week the growth of the colorectal cancer slowed significantly. When looking into ovarian cancer, researchers found that the same gingerol component of ginger, significantly inhibited growth in ovarian cancer cells. They found that this was due to its anti-inflammatory properties that inhibit the inflammatory chemicals within the cells, which would normally increase a cancer cells replication rate.
There are a variety of ways in which you can incorporate ginger into your diet to help you get these health benefits. Here are some helpful tips on how to enjoy ginger:
- Make ginger lemonade by combining water with lemon juice, honey and freshly grated ginger
- Make a salad dressing by adding ginger to soy sauce, olive oil and garlic
- Ginger can also add a flavour kick to puréed sweet potatoes with a little dash of orange juice
- Make ginger tea by adding sliced ginger to hot water with a slice of lemon and a drop of honey
It should be noted that ginger contains small amounts of oxalate and should therefore not be consumed in large quantities by people who suffer from oxalate-containing kidney stones.