Ginger is an herb that may be useful for all kind of things – from relieving migraines to motion sickness. Read on to find out more.
The health benefits of ginger come from chemicals that are called volatile oils, specifically gingerols and shogaols, which also give ginger its pungent, spicy taste. The oils stimulate the body to produce more digestive juices and they also help to neutralise the stomach acids that cause cramping, nausea, and diarrhea. Ginger is well-noted for its ability to relieve nausea, both when traveling and during pregnancy. In fact, this is probably its best known use.
Ginger is also a natural decongestant and antihistamine. Ginger has a warming action on the upper respiratory tract, making it very useful in the treatment of colds, flu, and other respiratory disorders. It is an ingredient in many herbal decongestants.
Ginger has the ability to block prostaglandin, a substance that causes inflammation of the blood vessels in the brain and can lead to migraines. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger can also help to lessen the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and muscular disorders. It can also help to lessen swelling. In fact, studies have shown that ginger can provide better relief of pain, swelling, and stiffness than some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
Ginger may be helpful for relieving menstrual cramps. It can also help with cramps that are caused by stomach gas and it can also stimulate digestion. Ginger promotes the flow of bile.
The cineole that ginger contains may be helpful for stress relief.
Ginger makes the platelets in the blood less sticky, helping to create a healthier cardiovascular system. It can also improve circulation. Ginger may also have an effect on blood clots that is similar to that of aspirin. The active ingredients in ginger can also help to lower high cholesterol levels.
Ginger can be taken in a variety of ways. If you are buying ginger, fresh is best. Avoid ginger that has dry, wrinkled skin, mould or soft spots. Grating the ginger or using a garlic press will give you the most benefit. Ginger has a very strong taste which may not be palatable by all so fresh ginger is best used in cooking.
Grating the ginger root and mixing it with diluted lime juice can help to soothe the digestive tract and reduce flatulence. Ginger can also be made into an oil and massaged into areas of localised chronic pain. It can be taken as a supplement but it is best to choose a supplement that contains ginger’s natural compounds – gingerols and shogaols – as these are the plant’s active ingredients.
If you are taking a ginger extract, take 100 to 200mg three times a day. Fresh powdered ginger should be taken three times a day at ½ to ¾ a teaspoon at a time. If you are eating fresh ginger root, eat it no more than three times a day, and eat ½ an inch at a time, peeled. Ginger tea can be taken several times a day, and crystallised ginger can be eaten twice a day.