In today’s ever growing list of natural remedies, ginger holds strong near the top. This root has been used in alternative medical treatments for 5,000 years. It is believed to have first been used by the Chinese and Indians. Romans and Greeks also utilized it centuries ago.
Many have been conducted to find the benefits of ginger. The majority agree there are medicinal benefits. . Always talk to your doctor before adding new medications or supplements to your diet.
What is ginger root and where is it grown?
Ginger is not found in nature. It is a plant that has been deliberately altered or selected by humans; it is the result of artificial selection.” (1) Ginger is commonly associated with turmeric and cardamom.
Production occurs throughout warmer climates around the world. It grows best in warm and humid climates with regular rain. Due to all these needs for growth, India is the number one producer and seventh largest exporter. (2)
Homes in warmer climates often use this plant for landscaping. Ginger has white and pink buds that eventually bloom into beautiful flowers. It is also a perennial, so homeowners benefit from its return year after year.
The flowers are attractive but the real hero is underground. Ginger root, or rhizome, is what we most often visualize when discussing ginger.
Potential Health Benefits of Ginger
Ginger has been popular for its medicinal properties for centuries. Scientific studies are far more recent. Many benefits have been confirmed. A few are covered in more detail below.
Long before science confirmed it, people used ginger to combat fungus. Many plants are believed to have the same benefits. A study at Carleton University determined that ginger far out performed others. (3)
- Athlete’s foot
- Jock itch
- Yeast infections
Inflammation and pain go hand-in-hand. Arthritis is a well-known anti-inflammatory problem. A study conducted at the University of Miami followed 261 patients with arthritis in their knee(s).
Patients unaware if they received ginger extract or a placebo. After six weeks, the results were in. Ginger extract showed a substantial decrease in pain. (4)
- Joint pain
- Menstrual pain
- Muscle Pain
- Musculoskeletal disorders
Free radicals cause damage to cells, DNA and protein. Antioxidants stop that damage.
Free radicals are linked to many activities.
- Environmental pollution
- Excessive exercise
- Exposure to chemicals and industrial solvents
- Inflammation and tissue swelling
- Radiation - (ex: cancer treatment) (5)
Possibly the most commonly known benefit of ginger is to treat nausea and vomiting. Early on it was used for sea sickness and pregnancy. Morning sickness can be a challenge for many pregnant women.
Stomach aches happen to us all. The trick is to find something that is effective and still good for you. Ginger is widely used to calm upset stomachs.
One study followed 576 chemotherapy patients. It is common for these patients to experience nausea. It was found that ginger drastically reduced the onset of nausea in chemotherapy patients. (6)
There are many studies of ginger in the battle against cancer. Many forms of cancer have been studied. Bladder, breast, colorectal, liver, lymphoma and skin are just a few.
One study concluded that ginger limited tumor growth in mouse skin. There are a large variety of cancerous tumors. Breast, brain, ovary and prostate are few examples. (7)
Blood sugar levels can be a challenge to control naturally. A healthy diet and exercise are keys to success. Adding ginger can help give you an extra boost in that battle.
Diabetics must limit carbohydrate intake. This is true for those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Carbs break down quickly, raising your blood sugar levels. In turn, that impacts your insulin levels and how it works in your body.
Fortunately fresh ginger only has 1.3 grams of carbs per tablespoon. This small amount, added to warm water and a bit of lemon, creates a tasty drink.
Methods of adding ginger to your diet.
Powder, raw or supplements are common forms used. Essential oil is also an option. Although all can be purchased, some people prepare them at home.
Powder or ground ginger can be produced by cutting the root into small pieces. Lay it out in the sun or use a dehydrator. Once you are sure it’s fully dry, grind into a fine powder. This form makes adding ginger to almost any part of your diet easy.
Using raw ginger is a bit more complicated. First you will need to learn how to peel and prepare it. Dosing is also a factor to determine. Everyone has their own preference when it comes to the flavor of ginger.
Raw ginger can be added to teas, soups, stir-fry and more. It is commonly used with turmeric in recipes. Ginger tea is the most common and easy to find in stores.
Ginger essential oil is most often used to ease pain. Initially ginger oil is highly concentrated. Essential oils are not meant to be ingested - ginger included.
It is important to choose one that is diluted to 1% or less when applying topically. It is commonly added to a compress or cotton ball and applied to the inflicted area. Other oils are also added for increased benefits. Castor oil is used with it to massage into painful joints.
Used in a diffuser will produce what is often referred to as a holiday scent. It can be described as a warm or spicy scent.
Capsules are readily available at most stores that sell supplements. Always do your research. Not all manufacturers are equal, nor are their products. Don’t spend your hard-earned money on ginger supplements that are mostly fillers.
There are various ways to ensure ginger is part of your daily routine. For prevention or treatment it has long been a favorite in the medical community. Take the time to introduce it slowly to find what works best for you. Once it’s part of your routine, quality of life will improve.
Always talk to your doctor before adding any new medications or supplements to your body.