Ginger is one of the most popular and well-loved spices available today. Not only is it a staple component of nature’s medicine cabinet, it is also widely used in cooking for its fantastic flavor alone. Add to that its all-year-round availability and you will start to see why ginger is such an asset to any home.
22 Important Health Benefits of Ginger
The health benefits are varied, as you can see:
1. Travel Sickness
Ginger is well known for its anti-emetic properties – its ability to calm nausea and vomiting.
2. Morning sickness
Unlike anti-emetic drugs which are sometimes prescribed in pregnancy to treat morning sickness, ginger has no side effects, and is safe to use (but consult a doctor first).
Ginger works by inhibiting the production of intestinal gases – when there is less gas being produced, there is less to escape!
4. Trapped Gas
Trapped gas can also be miserable, and cause intense pain to the sufferer. By inhibiting the production of gas in the intestines in the first place, there is less to become trapped, and therefore less chance of colic-like pain.
5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Ginger is a powerful anti-spasmodic, which means that it reduces the spasms and cramps often associated with IBS.
Diarrhea occurs when the body passes food too quickly through the intestines. Ginger’s powerful anti-spasmodic properties calm the intestines, allowing food to pass more slowly. Its ability to inhibit gas production is also key – intestinal gasses promote watery frequent stools.
7. Colds and Flu
The ways in which ginger helps to prevent and/or treat colds and flu are numerous.
- It is a warm spice, which encourages perspiration, thus allowing toxins to be eliminated from the body.
- The perspiration also allows lowering of body temperature, as the sweat cools on the skin.
- Ginger is anti-viral and antibacterial, so aids the body in fighting off viral and bacterial infections.
- It has analgesic properties, which help to reduce the aching of limbs associated with the flu. The same properties also ease a sore throat.
- It is an expectorant, so helps to keep upper airways clear of mucus.
8. Cold Hands and Feet
Ginger is a warm spice. The ingestion of it improves circulation and encourages the blood to flow more freely to the extremities.
The same can be said for treating the symptoms and effects of hypothermia. It should be noted, however, that drinking hot ginger tea will promote excessive sweating, which should be avoided as this encourages a cooling of the body temperature – allow the tea to cool first.
10. Loss of Appetite
If nausea is to blame for your lack of appetite, if the thought of eating literally makes you sick, then taking ginger can help. As it has well known anti-emetic properties, as well as calming the stomach, it can aid appetite.
Thanks to its anti-spasmodic effect, hiccups can be stopped by relaxing the spasms of the diaphragm. As hiccups can also be caused by poor digestion of food, or a build-up of digestive gas, ginger can help by relieving either or both.
12. Heart Disease
One of the major health benefits of ginger is its ability to keep the heart healthy. By encouraging better blood flow, and as a natural blood thinner, ginger can keep the heart pumping effectively, and prevent blood clots.
13. Blood Pressure
By improving the blood flow, ginger has also been shown to reduce high blood pressure. In addition, it allows the muscles which surround the blood vessels to relax, therefore improving the passage of blood.
14. Menstrual Cramp
The pain of menstrual cramp can be improved significantly by taking ginger, due to its anti-spasmodic properties. The tightness and cramping of the lower abdomen are relieved, therefore reducing the pain.
15. Loss of Libido
Ginger is a powerful aphrodisiac. Not only does it improve blood flow throughout the body, its scent is also known to have aphrodisiacal qualities. In this instance, using ginger essential oil in a massage or in an oil burner, can have highly desirous effects!
16. Jet Lag
One of the main causes of jet lag is the disruption of your body clock, meaning you can’t sleep when you need to, especially if flying over several time zones. Drinking ginger tea in-flight not only gives you a sense of comfort due to its warming effects, but it also relaxes you, meaning you are more likely to sleep, leaving you less likely to be exhausted when you arrive at your destination. (Try taking slices of fresh ginger root in your hand luggage, and ask the flight attendant to bring you hot water at intervals through your journey. Simply steep the ginger in the hot water until warming and spicy)
17. Deep Vein Thrombosis
Still, on the topic of long-haul travel, the risk of a DVT is greatly reduced by taking ginger. The blood thinning properties mean that a clot is much less likely to form, and allows the blood to flow freely.
Ginger’s effect during cancer treatment is multi-dimensional. Below are the main reasons why every cancer patient should consider using ginger.
- Taking ginger before starting chemotherapy can be hugely beneficial in reducing chemo-induced nausea and vomiting. It calms the stomach and lessens nausea.
- Improves appetite – the nausea and vomiting can mean that eating is an impossibility for many people going through this treatment. Not only does ginger increase appetite, it also aids in the absorption of nutrients, therefore allowing the body to get the nutrition it so desperately needs in order to heal.
- Taking ginger fights fatigue. By allowing the body to relax, energy levels are replenished, allowing the patient to be better able to deal with the effects of both the cancer and the treatment.
- Ginger is an anti-inflammatory. Inflammation has been linked to the development of most cancers. As a bodily response to injury, inflammation is a good thing. But when that process becomes chronic, the result can be far more sinister. Inflammation feeds cancer, so by reducing that inflammation, not only are you reducing the pain, but you are also cutting off one of the tumor’s supplies.
- Cancer thrives on sugar, and ginger reduces the amount of sugar in your blood. By taking ginger, you are regulating your blood sugar levels, and, as with the inflammation, you are cutting off another of the tumor’s sources.
- Ginger contains a substance called 6-Shogaol. Some studies have shown that this compound actually kills cancer cells. Further studies are needed, but early indications are promising.
Not only does ginger regulate blood sugar levels, it also reduces cholesterol levels, both of which are important in fighting diabetes.
20. Fungal Infections
Notoriously hard to treat, fungal infections can be greatly helped by using ginger, including those which are particularly drug resistant.
21. Stomach Ulcers
It is a generally recognized fact that most stomach ulcers are caused byHelicobacter Pylori. Not only has ginger been shown to inhibit the production of H.Pylori, but it is also thought to aid existing ulcers to heal, too.
22. Fatty Liver Disease (non-alcoholic)
Some studies have shown that ginger can help lower serum cholesterol, one of the factors associated with fatty liver disease. These studies are in their early stages, so are not definitive, but they are promising.
Are there any Side Effects
Ginger is almost completely safe to use. However, as in all things, caution should be exercised and advice should always be sought from your doctor before self-treatment. Certain conditions and circumstances are contraindicated.
If you are taking any of the following you MUST seek professional advice before taking:
- Heart medication
- Diabetes medication
- Warfarin, or any other blood thinners
Ginger is not the only natural blood thinner, so if you are taking any other natural substances, please check their properties.
In addition, if you are any of the following, advice must be sought:
- Suffering from a heart condition
- Suffering from a blood disorder
In small doses, ginger has very few side effects. However, larger amounts can result in gas, heartburn, stomach irritation and/or mouth irritation.
Common ways to use Ginger
There are many ways in which you can take ginger. Fresh ginger is always preferable, as properties can be lost during the drying/grinding process.
- It is commonly used in Asian cooking, and is a great flavor enhancer – add it freely when cooking.
- By steeping fresh ginger in hot water, it can be taken as a warming hot drink. In the winter, adding lemon and honey makes it a perfect winter tonic.
- Blended into smoothies.
- Chewing on crystallized ginger can be helpful for sickness.
- Using ginger essential oil in a massage. NEVER apply essential oil directly to the skin, always dilute it in a carrier oil first.
- Burn a few drops of ginger essential oil in an oil burner.
Be creative – find ways to incorporate ginger into your day. Grate some onto soup, infuse it into a drink, use freely in stir fries.
Nutritional Values of Ginger
Ginger also provides a variety of vitamins and minerals. Per 100g they are as follows:
- Carbohydrate – 17.77 g
- Dietary Fiber – 2 g
- Protein – 1.82 g
- Sugars – 1.7 g
- Sodium – 13 mg
- Vitamin B6 – 0.16 mg
- Calcium – 16 mg
- Iron – 0.6 mg
- Vitamin C – 5 mg
- Potassium – 415 mg
- Magnesium – 43 mg
- Phosphorus – 34 mg
- Zinc – 0.34 mg
- Folate – 11 mcg
- Riboflavin – 0.034 mg
- Niacin – 0.75 mg
- Iron – 0.6 mg
Used sensibly, ginger really is a wonder food and should be part of everybody’s kitchen.
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