From the ancient Chinese and the Romans, to mothers of poorly children worldwide, for thousands of years now ginger has been used as a spice and a medicine. Although it is commonly described as a root, it is in fact a rhizome, a stem that grows out from the plant underground, and from which small roots will sprout, as well as new green shoots.
Ginger’s most well-known medicinal use is as a digestive-aid, to relieve tummy pain, nausea and diarrhoea, as well as morning sickness and travel sickness. This is thought to be because of the spice’s high levels of gingerol; a powerful component that gives it its natural zingy flavour, and which acts as an anti-inflammatory in the body.
If you’re wondering how to use ginger, it’s very easy- since it is both fibrous and tough, and full of juice and oils, it is ideal for grating or expressing into just about any food or drink that you feel like.
Even ginger ale and candied ginger have medicinal properties, if you’re not sure about using the fresh variety.
Don’t like the taste? Don’t worry, you can buy it in supplement form too, so you get all the great benefits, without any of the strong flavour!
Benefits of Ginger – The Superfood
Have a look at what else ginger can do for your health
- The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger are thought to provide pain relief in a number of ways, from halting migraines in their tracks, to easing the aches of arthritis.
- Studies have started showing really exciting results on the effect ginger has on ovarian cancer: Although more research is needed, it seems that ginger has the ability to eliminate cancerous ovarian cells. It also seems to dramatically slow the progress of bowel cancer; encouraging news indeed!
- Were you spoon-fed ginger ale as a child when you had the flu? If you were, Mum had the right idea, as ginger is shown to have a boosting effect on the immune-system, making you better faster.
So ginger is delicious AND nutritious! But let’s check there’s nothing we should be cautious of…
Side Effects of Ginger?
These seem to be minimal! Some consumer reports have suggested that ginger can cause nausea and stomach-upset rather than prevent it, but these do seem to be rare cases. Since ginger is an anti-inflammatory, people on any blood-thinning medications should perhaps approach the spice with caution to ensure it doesn’t interfere with their condition, although studies on this are not by any means conclusive. If you have any doubts at all, please do consult your doctor.
- It helps morning sickness!
The University of Maryland conducted research into the effect of 1g of ginger on morning sickness and found it to be more effective than a placebo at relieving symptoms.
- It is a great anti-inflammatory!
The University of Miami concluded that ginger is an effective anti-inflammatory, and even suggested that ginger extract could one day be used instead of synthetic anti-inflammatory medication!
- It fights ovarian cancer!
Studies at the University of Michigan showed that ginger was as effective at destroying cancerous cells as standard platinum-based chemotherapy drugs.
- It slows bowel cancer!
The University of Minnesota carried out studies that showed the growth of colorectal cancerous cells being slowed by treatment with ginger.
What the Papers says:
BBC News: (Click article for full size)
From the web:
It Helps My Asthma Pains…
If my chest hurts and I have sinus issues on top of the chest breathing pain and I take Ginger Capsules or drink Ginger Tea it really helps.â€“ Graystar
It Works for My Irritable Bowel Syndrome!
Someone suggested it to help with IBS, and itâ€™s working wonders! I take it in table form once a day.â€“ ellosteve88
No More Nausea!
Iâ€™m a chef, and my former sous chef gave me a piece to chew on one shift where I was feeling particularly ill; I felt fine immediately and finished the dinner shift.â€“ Neil G.