Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is one of the most commonly used herb in the world. Ginger is a herb with underground stems that branch out, called rhizomes. The rhizome is the part of ginger that is commonly consumed. Believed to have originated in India, the Indians and Chinese have used ginger for medicinal purposes for thousands years. This aromatic and pungent herb is available all year long in two forms, dried and fresh. Both the forms have excellent health benefits.
Botanical name – Zingiber officinale
Hindi – Adrak
Common Name – Ginger
Tamil – Inji
Health Benefits of Ginger
Traditionally, ginger has been used as a carminative, to alleviate gastrointestinal problems. Greek physicians used ginger to treat paralysis due to phlegmatic imbalance in the body and also for gout. It is an excellent remedy for the elimination of intestinal gas. It helps to relax and soothe the intestinal tract, and is also a very good home remedy for motion sickness, nausea and vomitting. The active compound in the ginger root is -gingerol, which makes ginger have great health benefits.
Ginger Health Benefits for the Digestive Tract
Gastroenteritis is a viral infection of the digestive tract. Ginger is used, when there is a predominance of nausea. It also helps to cure the diarrhoea that accompanies it. It is extremely beneficial for dyspepsia, flatulence, colic and spasms of the stomach. It is said that chewing a piece of ginger after meals, helps to prevent these ailments. Being antibacterial in nature, it is effective in preventing intestinal problems.
Ginger Health Benefits for the Heart
A few prelimnary studies suggest that ginger may lower cholesterol and help prevent blood from clotting. That can help heart disease where blood vessels can become blocked and lead to heart attacks or strokes. Ginger is shown to lower cholesterol levels by reducing cholesterol absorption in the blood and the liver. It helps reduce the level of LDL cholesterol in the body, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. A study published in 2005 in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology found that ginger lowered blood pressure in controlled experimental conditions. If you are on blood thinning medications, you need to consult with your doctor before taking ginger.
Ginger Health Benefits for Inflammation
Ginger is very useful in treating chronic inflammation. Moreover ginger does not have the side effect that many anti-inflammatory drugs have. Ginger does not cause stomach irritation or ulcers. It actually, helps to protect and heal the gut. It is said to have the ability to decrease inflammation, swelling and pain. Dried ginger extract is reported to have analgesic properties. Ginger is suggested to be effective against osteoarthritis and rheumatism. A study involving volunteers carried out by the University of Georgia found that daily ginger supplementation reduced exercise induced muscle pain by 25%.
Ginger Health Benefits for Nausea
Ginger root is commonly recommended for preventing sea sickness. It was reported in the ‘Lancet’, that powdered ginger root, taken in capsules was more effective than Dramamine in preventing nausea. It has been suggested that ginger removes the effects of motion sickness in the gastrointestinal tract itself. Ginger is also recomended for nausea and vomitting associated with pregnancy, chemotherapy and certain surgical procedures. A study from researchers at Columbia University showed that, purified components of the ginger root may also have properties that help asthma patients breathe more easily. Ginger supplements administered alongside anti-vomiting medications can reduce chemotherapy induced nausea symptom by 40%, according to a study carried out at the University of Rochester.
Ginger Health Benefits for Cancer
Many studies are now being done on the cancer-preventive and therapeutic applications of ginger and its compounds. Ginger and its constituents have been reported to help inhibit tumour promotion in mouse skin. Gingerols, the active compound in ginger may inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells. A study undertaken at the University of Michigan Medical School showed that ginger root supplement helped reduce inflammation markers in the colon within a month. Reducing inflamation in the colon reduces the risk of colon cancer. Gingerol may also kill ovarian cancer cells by inducing apoptosis.
Ginger Health Benefits for Respiratory Illness
Ginger has been used for centuries in treating respiratory illness. It acts as an expectorant in bronchitis, asthma and tuberculosis of the lungs. Ginger is a vasodilator and a warming drug. It provokes a cleansing sweat. This effect, as well as its properties as an expectorant, make it an effective herb for bronchial infections. Ginger is a drying expectorant, which helps dry out excessive mucus secretions and stimulates their removal.
Ginger Health Benefits for the brain
A 2004 article in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that ginger extract has the potential to slow the progression of brain cell loss in Alzheimer’s disease. Even though there are no clinical studies in humans showing that ginger can impact Alzheimer’s or any dementia, the data suggests that ginger extract could prevent some of the damage to brain cells that marks the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, according to Dr. Pendergrast in holistic-medicine-md.com. Reducing inflammation in brain tissues has shown to improve brain function. Ginger is effective in reducing brain inflammation. A study of 60 middle aged women, showed a significant improvement of cognitive functions and an enhanced working memory, when they received Ginger (Zingiber officinale) extract. Oxidative stress plays a very important role on stress-induced cognitive impairment, and ginger is high in anti-oxidants.
Other Health Benefits of Ginger
Ginger may help in suppressing allergic reactions. In a study, rats that were fed with ginger, exhibited better glucose tolerance and higher serum insulin levels than untreated rats suggesting that it can help control blood sugar levels. Ginger is useful in menstrual disorders.
Ginger tea Health Benefits
Ginger tea is a good stimulator of a weak apetite, good for respiratory tract infections, loosens phlegm, and prevents chills and fever. The anti-oxidants in ginger help improve the immune system and assist digestion.
Cut a two inch cube of rhizome into slices and simmer them in a cup of water in low heat for 10 mins. Cover the pot while cooking to retain as many constituents as possible. Strain and drink. You can also add tea leaves once the ginger has boiled for a while. Add milk and sugar to taste.
Home remedies with Ginger
- For a scratchy throat with sinus congestion, heat a pan of milk. Do not boil it. Add 2-3 slices of fresh ginger to the milk. Have it with honey.
- Half a tsp of fresh ginger juice, mixed with one tsp each of fresh lime juice, fresh mint juice and a tbsp of honey, is an effective home remedy for dyspepsia, nausea, vomitting due to a indigestion, and morning sickness.
- Extract juice from ginger. Add honey to it. This can be taken three or four times a day to cure cough. For cold, cut ginger into small pieces and boil in a cup of water. Strain it, add sugar and drink it hot.
- A tsp of fresh ginger juice mixed with a cupful of fenugreek decoction and a little honey to taste is an excellent home remedy that increases sweating and helps to reduce fever in influenza. It acts as an expectorant for bronchitis and asthma.
- Crush a piece of fresh ginger, and boil it in a cupful of water for a few minutes. The infusion sweetened with sugar should be taken thrice daily after meals as a medicine for dysmenorrhoea and amenorrhoea.
- Mix a tsp of powdered cumin seeds with a tsp of fresh ginger juice and a tsp of honey. Have this mixture once a day to reduce hypertension.
- Brew one and a half tsp of dried holy basil leaf powder and dried ginger powder in a glass of water to make a soothing tea. Add sugar and milk to taste. Drink this three to four times a day. You can also use fresh basil and ginger. This is an effective home remedy for influenza, common cold and respiratory tract infections.
- Half a tsp of finely ground dry ginger powder and dried fennel powder, made into a paste with a little honey, can be had thrice a day for overall kidney function.