Spice Up Your Health with Ginger
Think of Ginger… what comes to mind is its mouth-watering aroma and delightful flavour. Besides culinary uses, the antibiotic, anti inflammatory, antihistamine, anti-fungal and antispasmodic properties of ginger with an ability to cure various ailments from headaches to cancer make it rather special. Hence, Ginger, apart from teasing the taste buds, has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for treating numerous medical conditions.
History and Origin
The history and origin of Ginger dates back to over 5000 years. There has been mention of this “Universal Medicine” during the times of Confucius, Nostradamus, including the Holy books of Koran and the Bible. Native to South eastern Asia, Ginger is known to be used by the Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern cultures for a variety of reasons, including culinary and medicinal purposes. Said to have been existing from the Garden of Eden, ginger was used as a folk remedy, especially in China, for thousands of years to treat various ailments.
Two thousand years ago, when the Ancient Romans obtained ginger, it gained tremendous popularity and earned a place as an expensive spice with the price of one pound ginger equivalent to that of a whole sheep. However, after the fall of the Roman Empire, it’s valued waned. Nevertheless, the rediscovery of Europeans saw the resurgence of ginger with wars waged with the objective of seizing this expensive spice.
Ginger, known as Zingiber Officinale, is a tropical plant with purple flowers and the aromatic underground rhizome of the ginger plant more of a subterranean stem than a root. Depending upon the variety, the flesh of the rhizome may vary in hues of yellow, white or red, consisting of a thick or thin brownish tinged skin.
Healthy Nutrients in Ginger
Loaded with nutrients, ginger contains roughly 1-4 volatile oils. The aromatic constituents in ginger include zingiberene and bisabolene, while the pungent phenol compounds known as gingerols and shogaols contain antioxidant properties. These effective constituents are responsible for ginger’s healing properties including distinctive aroma and taste.
Ginger is known as a natural potent antioxidant and antibiotic consisting of more than 400 chemical compounds. A rich source of magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6, copper, manganese, vitamin E, iron, dietary fibre, amino acid, calcium, selenium and essential fatty acids, ginger is very low in cholesterol and sodium. Magnesium helps with muscle, effective enzyme function, energy transportation and protein production. Potassium regulates fluids and minerals in the body, vitamin B6 is vital for production of energy, fat and protein metabolism, healthy skin, hair, eyes and liver promoting a healthy nervous system.
Copper: essential in the formation of red blood cells,
Manganese: helps with bone formation, thyroid function, connective tissue formation, calcium absorption and immune functioning.
The antioxidants help reduce body inflammation and help identifyand destroy disease-causing free radicals
Therapeutic Benefits of Ginger
Ginger offers tremendous benefits for health. True to the words of Hippocrates who said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” the universal medicine, Ginger is God’s greatest healing gift to humanity.
Ginger is a Powerful Antioxidant
Ginger contains potent antioxidant properties, preventing risk of various diseases, reducing inflammation and pain, impeding the production of free radicals and thus slowing down the process of ageing.
Ginger Reduces Symptoms of Arthritis
The chemical components of Ginger impede the biosynthesis of prostaglandins, the main cause for inflammation. Gingerols, the explicitly potent anti-inflammatory compounds found in Ginger has the ability to reduce inflammation. Therefore, it is particularly useful for joint and musculo-skeletal pain, caused due to osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Consumed on a daily basis ginger provides immense relief from swelling and pain. (Also Read Living with Arthritis)
Alleviates Muscle pain
Ginger enhances blood flow to the legs, reducing soreness, hastening muscle recovery after strenuous workout. Regular consumption of ginger helps reduce muscle pain.
Ginger acts as a natural painkiller, due to its powerful anaesthetic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ease Menstrual Cramps
The Anti-inflammatory properties in ginger are as effective as across the counter drugs in easing painful menstrual cramps, during monthly periods.
In Ayurveda, ginger is regarded as a relief measure in neurological disorders. Administration of ginger relieves effects of migraine without any side effects.
Ginger has Anticancer Properties
Several studies have established ginger’s ability to combat numerous types of cancer cells, due to certain substances, which are anti-oxidant, anti-tumorous and anti-inflammatory. Hence regular consumption of ginger assists the body fight against cancer cells. The polyphenolic compounds known as gingerols, prevent the development of some of the most detrimental and complicated cancers such as lung, pancreatic, prostate, ovarian, colon, breast, and skin carcinoma.
Ginger contains exceptional antibiotics properties. When compared to antibiotics on Staphylococcus aureus and S. pyreus infections, various studies indicate the superiority of ginger extracts due to potent antibiotic properties.
Benefits of Ginger for Digestion
The unusual enzymes in ginger help break down proteins in the body facilitating digestion. Therefore, to alleviate digestive problems, the ancient Greeks ate ginger after a heavy meal.
Ginger Prevents Bloating
Due to its carminative or antispasmoic properties, ginger provides immense relief from bloating of the stomach and gastric problems.
Certain antihistamine components found in ginger rhizomes contains powerful compounds capable of destroying allergic reactions useful for the treatment and prevention of allergic diseases such as hay fever.
Stimulates Blood Circulation
Ginger stimulates blood circulation to all parts of the body promoting health and vitality. This is mainly due to components consisting of chromium, zinc and magnesium which besides improving circulation, helps in preventing excessive sweat, fever and chills.
Benefits of Ginger for Flu and Cold
For centuries, ginger has been widely used as a natural remedy for treating flu and cold. The antiviral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties in ginger helps prevent cold. Shagaol, a compound found in ginger, destroys the virus, causing cold, and unblocks the nose relieving symptoms of sinus. Besides, ginger has the ability to stimulate the secretion of mucus, providing relief from coughs and other respiratory diseases. It helps boost immune system and prevents recurring of common flu.
Ginger Benefits for Treating Asthma
Asthma is a chronic disease characterized by inflammation and hypersensitivity of airway tubes inducing spasms, Ginger has been used for centuries as an alternative medicine to improve symptoms of asthma.
The Magnesium content in ginger relaxes the heart muscles preventing irregular heartbeat known as arrhythmias.
Ginger prevents the hardening of the arteries. It also helps maintain healthy blood vessels, decreases blood stickiness, preventing blood platelets from clumping together, keeping the blood vessels open and flexible ensuring smooth blood flow.
Ginger Benefits for High Blood Pressure
Ginger lessens inflammation in the arteries and blood vessels that cause high blood pressure.
Lowers LDL (bad) Cholesterol
Ginger is effective for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. The anti-clotting properties of ginger make the blood less sticky protecting against increased cholesterol levels. The potent spice also absorbs cholesterol from liver and the blood, reducing triglycerides and LDL low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the main precursor for heart attacks and strokes.
Ginger Prevents Infections
Ginger promotes sweating as they help keep the body warm. Sweat contains germ-fighting properties, protecting against harmful bacteria such as Staphylococcus Aureus that is the common cause of most skin infections and E. coli. It is also effective at eradicate a common fungus called Candida albicans.
Ginger helps absorption of essential nutrients in the body by active stimulation of enzymes secreted in the pancreas and the gastric regions.
Ginger is a Stress Buster
Regular consumption of ginger helps calm a troubled mind. Ginger helps sharpen the senses, enhancing memory powers. A ginger oil massage for the help tends to refresh the brain relieving depression, anxiety, restlessness, stress, fatigue and light-headedness.
Overcomes Nausea and Motion Sickness
According to research the effects of ginger in preventing and treating motion and sea sickness is far superior when compared to across the counter medications. Therefore, ginger makes an excellent companion during long trips that induce nausea and vomiting. Studies report that Ginger may be effective in treating morning sickness during pregnancy, including nausea caused as a side effect of chemotherapy.
Ginger Treats Food Poisoning
As ginger contains antiseptic and carminative properties, it is used in treating food poisoning. Besides this, it is helpful in treating intestinal infections and bacterial dysentery.
Substitute for Aspirin
Ginger makes an excellent substitute for aspirin, accomplishing its task to perfection, without any adverse side effects.
Including ginger in cooking, teas, supplements, or as a skin care product, have remarkable benefits on the skin. The combination of ginger and lime is great as ginger provide a healthy glow, wherein lime loaded with vitamin C imparts a radiant looking skin.
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic recurring inflammatory bowel disease. Ginger extracts eased symptoms of acetic acid-induced ulcerative colitis when tested on rats.
Anti diabetic Properties
Ginger contains antidiabetic property. Rats that were fed ginger, exhibited better glucose tolerance and higher serum insulin levels, than untreated rats, suggesting that Ginger can help control blood sugar levels
Strengthens Hair Follicles
Ginger is packed with useful nutrients, such as vitamins, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc amongst others. Hence, ginger has beneficial effects on the hair. Ginger juice or essential oils stimulate blood flow, hence when rubbed on the scalp and left for 10 minutes (only) finally rinsed with a regular shampoo strengths hair follicles and improves hair growth.
Prevents Alzheimer’s Disease
In middle-aged women, hormonal changes and stress factors play an important role in influencing cognitive functions, such as loss of memory and mild cognitive impairment, related to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. According to Arabian folklore, dried ginger is said to have beneficial effects in treating dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Ginger Controls thyroid disorders
Magnesium in ginger is crucial for controlling thyroid disorders.
Aids weight loss
Ginger triggers metabolism, which helps in burning fat. Ginger may be useful for treating obesity, as they contain fat burning, metabolism accelerating and satiating properties.
Like everything in nature, which might have devastating effects, if not used cautiously, ginger too has to be taken with care in certain cases. The spice is best consumed in the form of food. Before taking any supplements or making any dietary modifications, it will be advice to consult a physician for expert opinion.
Some substances in Ginger may cause adverse reactions in certain individuals or be harmful if taken in large quantities. However, individuals may avoid Ginger while on anticoagulants, suffering from gallstones, or during pregnancy.