Ginger is one of those plants that seem almost too good to be true. We make sure to keep some on hand at all times. It's actually one of our smoothie ingredients every morning.
Cultivated and used medicinally for thousands of years all around the world, ginger root is a powerful medicinal herb that offers a variety of unique health benefits. When taken regularly in therapeutic doses, ginger root can effectively cure nausea; promote healthy digestion; boost immunity; treat asthma; improve cardiovascular function and heart health; relieve pain; and even prevent and cure chronic disease by quelling inflammation.
Besides being widely known for the exotic, spicy flavor it adds to food and beverages, one of ginger's other main claims to fame is its amazing ability to 1) improve digestion and promote better assimilation of nutrients into the body
. A plethora of scientific research conducted throughout the past several decades confirms that ginger contains a distinct enzymatic profile that works synergistically to promote healthy digestion, and ease the processing of food in the stomach and intestines. (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ginger-000246.htm
"The 'quintessential digestive herb,' ginger has the ability to restore digestive balance as in the cases of ulcers, parasites or nausea; the anti-emetic effects of ginger are therapeutic in cases of motion sickness, morning sickness, and other kinds of nausea," writes Paul Schulick in his 1995 paper entitled "The Many Roles of Ginger." "Ginger also encourages full digestive potential, and due in part to its enzyme activity, can increase bioavailability of drugs and nutrients."
On a similar note, ginger root is a proven 2) remedy for motion sickness, seasickness, and various other forms of nausea
. Pregnant women, chemotherapy patients, and individuals with mild or moderate upset stomach can all experience relief by taking therapeutic doses of ginger, which was shown in at least one major study to eliminate nausea symptoms with as little as a one-quarter of a teaspoon dose. (http://articles.cnn.com
As quoted in the book Alternative Cures: The Most Effective Natural Home Remedies for 160 Health Problems
, Dr. Robert Dozor, M.D., explains that "[g]inger in any form -- as a capsule, as a tea, even as ginger candy, if it's actually made with the herb -- can quickly calm nausea" (http://www.naturalpedia.com/book_Alternative_Cures.html
). This includes cancer patients who experience debilitating nausea as a result of chemotherapy treatments.
Even better than its power to eliminate post-chemotherapy nausea; however, is ginger's amazing ability to 3) treat inflammation and boost immunity
. Chronic inflammation is linked to a host of debilitating diseases, including cancer, all of which can be effectively prevented and even treated with therapeutic doses of whole ginger extract.
Numerous studies, including one that was published in the British Journal of Nutrition
back in 2011, have shown that whole ginger extract effectively fights cancer cells by inducing apoptosis, a process by which cancer cells essentially "commit suicide." In the book Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer
, authors Richard Beliveau and Denis Gingras explain how ginger's powerful anti-inflammatory effect creates an environment within the body that precludes the growth and spread of cancer cells and resultant tumors. (http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/turmeric-ginger.htm
This same anti-inflammatory effect also makes ginger a powerful 4) pain reliever
, particularly for chronic pain conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica, and fibromyalgia. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism
back in 2001, for instance, found that patients with osteoarthritis experienced dramatic pain relief when they took ginger extract twice daily. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11710709
Ginger is also an effective treatment for milder pain symptoms associated with conditions like the occasional headache, sore muscles, and the common cold. Ginger's unique compositional blend of analgesic substances naturally inhibits pain-producing prostaglandins from activating an inflammatory response within the body. Synthetic pain reliever drugs, on the other hand, cannot accomplish this, at least not without eliciting harmful side-effects.
"Ginger inhibits the production of immune-system components called cytokines, chemicals that create a long-term tendency toward inflammation. It also stimulates blood circulation," writes Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., in her book Prescription for Herbal Healing: An Easy-to-Use A-Z Reference to Hundreds of Common Disorders and Their Herbal Remedies
). "These effects make ginger useful in treating a number of disorders marked by swelling and pain, such as arthritis."
Speaking of circulation, ginger has been shown to greatly promote 5) cardiovascular health
by suppressing the biosynthesis of an inflammatory mediator known as leukotrienes. The dual-action, anti-inflammatory nature of ginger, while it inhibits both leukotrienes and prostaglandins, it helps maintain optimal arterial flow. Ginger also prevents platelet aggregation while also stimulating the release of adrenaline, processes that both help strengthen the heart.
Another way that ginger helps prevent and cure disease is through its diverse array of 6) antioxidants
, the two most prominent of which are curcumin and gingerol. Not only do these and several other free radical scavengers prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells, but they also prevent from forming, and even eliminate, amyloid plaques in the brain that are linked to causing Alzheimer's disease and other degenerative brain conditions.
"Ginger is a source of a large number of important antioxidants that, amongst other activities, reduce lipid oxidation by enhancing the activities of crucial internally produced antioxidants, such as superoxide dismutase," says Dr. Keith Scott, M.D., author of the book Medicinal Seasonings, the Healing Power of Spices
. "Melatonin, in particular, is not only a highly effective free-radical scavenger itself, but also stimulates production of the main antioxidant enzyme of the brain, glutathione peroxidase." (http://keithscottmd.articlealley.com
Children and adults who suffer from asthma symptoms will also be pleased to learn that ginger is an effective 7) asthma treatment
as well. Ginger naturally contains several different compounds that can help alleviate asthma symptoms. These include alpha-pinene, which loosens mucus in the bronchial tubes, and beta-carotene, the antioxidant precursor to vitamin A.