Ginger (Zingiber officinale) or ginger root, as often referred to is a spicy and tangy root originating from China. It has been a traditional remedy in many cultures for thousands of years. It has a pale brown skin, either thick or thin, depending on the age of the plant. The flesh can be white or yellow, with well-defined fiber. Ginger can be found in different forms; whole fresh root, dried stem, powdered, pickled, crystalized.
Health Benefits of Ginger
This herb is packed with natural antioxidants as well as array of vitamins which help fight cold symptoms. It is full of carbohydrates, which are excellent source of energy.
1. Aids Digestion
Ginger seems to aid digestion, saliva flow and respectively speed up metabolism. According to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, ginger aids the digestive tract by toning muscles in the intestine and stimulating the breakdown of food particles. This activity promotes motility in the gastrointestinal tract and assists in transporting food and other substances out of the intestines. Thus, ginger can help soothe your gas pains, digest and metabolize fats and relieve common stomach pains.
2. Reduce Nausea & Motion Sickness
There are many research on the positive effect of ginger for those suffering from nausea and motion sickness. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, ginger performs significantly better than a placebo for alleviating morning sickness. Ginger also may help decrease symptoms of nausea from chemotherapy and anesthesia. However, more research is needed to confirm these benefits. Another study shows that people who reported sea sickness, once given a small amount of ginger, showed signs of improvement, and on much bigger scale than participants who were offered a placebo. Another study discovered that once a patient receives 1 gram of fresh ginger an hour prior to the surgery, the vomiting and sickness drops by 38%.
According to Georgia Southern University, if you suffer from digestive problems, simply peel the ginger and grate it into your salad or meal. If you experience motion sickness, cut off a piece of ginger root and eat small bites throughout your travel. Additionally, you can make tea using pure ginger. Chop fine pieces of ginger and place them in boiling water. Allow the ginger and water to steep and drink the tea.
3. Controls Blood Sugar Levels
According to a new study by researchers from Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences in Yazd, ginger can lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. The research team studied 88 people with type 2 diabetes. The volunteers, all of whom had been living with diabetes for at least 10 years, were randomly given either 3 daily one-gram capsules of ginger powder or 3 identical-looking sham capsules, in addition to their regular diabetes meds. Those who took the ginger capsules saw a significant decrease in blood sugar after 8 weeks. Researchers are not exactly sure how ginger works to lower blood sugar but it is possible that it inhibits hepatic phosphorylase—an enzyme that breaks down glucose storage molecules, called glycogen. When glycogen breaks down, blood sugar rises—so inhibiting this enzyme could theoretically lower blood sugar for people with type 2 diabetes. If you are adding ginger to your diet, make sure to tell your doctor, and monitor your blood sugar levels regularly.
One study shows that only 2 grams of ginger, when given to 41 diabetics every day over a period of 12 weeks, reduced their fasting blood sugar level by 12%. Another study shows that ginger supplementation in oral administration reduced inflammation in type 2 diabetic patients. So it may be a good remedy to diminish the risk of some chronic complications of diabetes.
4. Fights Inflammation
Ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compound called gingerol, this according to a study published in the November 2003 issue of Life Sciences . This is believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and antioxidant activities, as well as a small amount of analgesic property.
A University of Miami study concluded that ginger extract could one day be a substitute to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The study compared the effects of a highly concentrated ginger extract to placebo in 247 patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. The ginger reduced pain and stiffness in knee joints by 40 percent over the placebo.
5. Reduces PMS moodiness and discomfort
A double-blind placebo-controlled trial conducted over three months and involved 70 women found the severity of five symptoms of Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS) were greatly reduced. Symptoms includes abdominal pain, backaches, anxiety, depression, nausea, weight gain, breast tenderness, and stiffness. This shows that ginger does soothe away the severity of PMS but it is important to take it in regular doses before, and during your period.
A recent study shows that ginger extract, if administered at 250mg four times a day, can reduce the PMS associated pain within 3 day period, as confirmed by 62% of participants.
According to traditional chinese medicine, ginger helps to soothe PMS symptoms by:
- Improving circulation, therefore dispersing stagnant energy around the reproductive organs.
- Balances the yin and yang in the body — this, in turn, balances the hormones associated with period.
- Brings qi into the stomach, easing nausea, congestion, and spasms.
- Warms the body and soothes cold conditions.
How to Make Ginger Tea
Things to note
Ginger is a relatively safe food. However it is recommended to avoid ginger consumption if you experience gallbladder stones, as ginger increases the flow of bile. Those pregnant or have a bleeding disorder should avoid ginger as it inhibits blood platelet aggregation. Limit ginger intake and consult your doctor if you take central nervous system depressants or anticoagulant medications.