Ginger spice is probably the most common cooking spice in the world. We find it in nearly every culture and used for food preparation on most continents. More importantly, it has been used medicinally for thousands of years in both India and China. It’s been used in tonics and tinctures and other medicinal forms in India for more than 4800 years! And what is so special about this spice and what gives it such potential to help and heal? Quite simply…it’s an oily resin in the ginger root itself called gingerol. It’s also the element that renders that wonderfully zesty and fragrant character to ginger.
Ok…it’s great for health….but what, exactly, can it do? There are many key benefits to using ginger regularly and we’ll address several of the top ones:
- Pain: ginger is an exceedingly potent anti-inflammatory element. As a matter of fact, there is research showing it to more effective than NSAIDs (non-steroidal drugs) in certain pain problems! Ginger has been shown to affect the vanilloid receptors on nerve endings. So it decreases our perception of pain as well as reducing inflammation…a major contributor to causing pain itself!
- Indigestion, Tummy Ache, Morning or Motion sickness: Gingerol has a wonderfully soothing effect on the smooth muscles of the intestine helping to decrease discomfort and facilitate movement of foods through the tract itself. For morning sickness in pregnancy, it’s been shown to be exceedingly effective and thoroughly safe for both baby and mom. So if you’re bloated, constipated or have other GI disorders this is an effective tool to use. Eating whole ginger, drinking fresh ginger juice and inhaling diffused ginger essential oil are great ways to incorporate its use.
- GERD and Stomach Ulcers: It’s been shown in research that ginger can actually heal ulcers and the pain they cause but, interestingly, more recent studies have shown using ginger can be very effective at reducing the symptoms of GERD. As a matter of fact, Molecular Nutrition and Food Research published research demonstrating that ginger was 6-8 times more potent than the most common drug used to treat GERD, prevacid. Inflammatory problems of the bowel also respond very favorably to using ginger!
- Bacterial Infections: Properties of ginger have a wonderfully anti-microbial effect on bacteria as demonstrated in study published in the Journal of Microbials and Anti-Microbials that ginger proved more effective than chloramphenicol, ampicillin and tetracycline for staph aureus and strep pyogenes infections! (Don’t let those names throw you…they’re just bacteria!)
- Anti-fungal: Yes, another type of infection….a fungal infection….has been shown to respond to ginger oil! Ask any physician and they will tell you that fungi are always difficult to treat and even more so in the last several years. You can prepare your own solution of 4-5 drops of ginger oil, 4-5 drops of tea tree oil in one teaspoon of coconut oil. Apply this to the affected area 2-3 times a day and get prepared for results!
- Cancer: Studies at both the University of Minnesota and the University of Michigan showed “profound growth inhibition” and “delayed cell growth” in ovarian and colorectal cancers respectively. It has been demonstrated to be helpful in the prevention and treatment of several forms of cancer and GI cancers seem to respond very favorably, as demonstrated in another study.
These are just some of the many benefits regular ingestion of ginger can do for us. So what are the simplest ways to use this herb? Cooking is an obvious answer and we can incorporate powdered ginger or use whole ginger in its root form. Juicing the root itself and pouring the juice into recipes or even drinking it straight or in combination with other juices or beverages. (We’ve all heard of GINGER ale, right? …Not the healthiest thing…but there’s the idea!) Ginger tea is amazing either hot or cold and, of course, quality standardized supplements of the spice are terrific, too….a preventative dose would be 500-1000 mg daily.
So avail yourself of the ginger and it many health benefits…you’ll only be glad you did!