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The Health Benefits of Ginger

Updated on September 30, 2014

Ginger

About Ginger

Ginger is an aromatic, spicy, and pungent root that adds flavor to many Asian stir fries and many fruits and vegetable dish. Ginger is the root of a ginger plant, it is firm, covered with a brownish skin that may be thick or thin ~ this depends on when the root was harvested, was it a mature plant or a young one? Ginger is inexpensive, delicious, and also makes some great home remedies.

History of Ginger

Ginger has been used for centuries, over 4,000 years, to spice up foods. One of the first fans of ginger was Confucius, it has been said that he would put ginger on everything that he ate. History tells us that Chinese, Indian, Romans, and Grecians would use ginger for healing, and wrote about it in their books. The ancient peoples would put it in their baths to help with soothing aches, pains, bruises, and tired muscles. They would chew on the root to help soothe sore throats, as well as grate it up and put it in olive oil as a remedy for dandruff.

Ginger is native to southeastern Asia, and is featured in many of the food dishes in the area. In the early times, it was difficult to ship, therefore expensive to have. Today, the top ginger producers are India, Jamaica, Indonesia, and Australia.

Compresses made with ginger were used for the treatment of sinus congestion, menstrual cramps, and general aches, pains, and fatigue.

What’s in it?

There are over 400 chemicals in ginger, and we only know what the medicinal purpose of just a few of them is. It contains 6-gingerol, 6-shagaol, and galanolactone; these chemicals seem to affect the “vomit center” of the brain and work to reduce the sensation of nausea. Gingerols, shagaols, and paradols are the chemicals that help with ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties.

Ginger is a powerful antioxidant, the 6-gingerol inhibits the production of nitric oxide, and it seems that Gingerols act similarly to the COX 11 non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like Celebrex. However, unlike NSAID’s ginger does not have any toxic side effects.

Science tells us that ginger has the ability to suppress cancer cells; the University of Minnesota ran studies in 2009 that ginger can suppress the growth of colorectal tumors in lab mice. Iranian studies also show that it has some effect on lowering cholesterol.

People with arthritis may benefit from the use of ginger; it seems to reduce the pain and swelling of arthritis. The digestive benefits are also evident; it prevents motion sickness better than some of the over-the-counter medications. It also reduced dizziness, and helps with anesthesia related nausea, vomiting, cold sweats that are associated with seasickness.

Caution

Do not give ginger to children under the age of 2, and check with your doctor about giving it to older children.

Health Benefits of Ginger

  1. Gastrointestinal relief, as mentioned above, it helps greatly with motion sickness, especially seasickness. This includes dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweats. Ginger is a safe and effective alternative to nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Ginger is safe and you only need a small amount to reap the benefits.
  2. Ginger has anti-inflammatory effects, compounds called Gingerols seem to help with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis by reducing pain levels, and it helps to improve mobility when it is used regularly.
  3. Protection against colorectal cancer
  4. Ginger induces cell death in ovarian cancer cells, Gingerols seem to help kill ovarian cancer cells by inducing apoptosis, and autophagocytosis (programmed cell death and self-digestion).
  5. Ginger has an immune boosting action, it can help to warm you on a cold day and promote healthy sweating that is helpful during colds and flu. It seems that a good sweat helps to detoxify the body.

How to select and store ginger

  1. If possible choose fresh ginger, as opposed to the dried form it not only has a better flavor, but it has higher levels of gingerol.
  2. Fresh ginger root can often be found in grocery stores, you will most likely only find the mature ginger root in the United States. The mature ginger root will need to be peeled, as opposed to the young ginger (usually only found in Asian markets) which does not need to be peeled.
  3. Check out your local spice store, many times they have a fresher selection and are more than likely grown organic.
  4. Ginger is available in different forms, crystallized, candied, and pickled ginger.
  5. Fresh ginger can be stored for up to three weeks in the refrigerator.
  6. Can be stored unpeeled in the freezer for up to six months.
  7. Ginger powder should be kept in a sealed glass container in a cool, dry and dark place. You can also store it in the refrigerator this will extend the shelf life for up to one year.

Velzipmur aka Shelly Wyatt

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Health Benefits of Ginger

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