Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
12 Reasons Why You Should Be Consuming It
by Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, BCHN, Herbalist
The underground portion of ginger is used. The flesh of ginger may be white, yellow or red depending on the variety. It has a light brownish skin. It has a aromatic, pungent and spicy smell and taste.
Ginger has been used for thousands of years as an herbal remedy. Modern medicine and research has proven that ginger possesses several therapeutic properties.
Benefits to Using Ginger
- Antioxidant Rich. And you only need a small amount to reap its benefits. You want to consume a antioxidant rich diet to support overall health and prevent disease.
- Reduces Pain from Osteoarthritis: Ginger Inhibits the formation of inflammatory compounds and has direct anti-inflammatory effects. This is due to compounds called gingerols. It has been shown to reduce pain in those with arthritis and muscular discomfort. In one study, those who took ginger extract 2 times per day had less pain and needed less pain killing meds than those who took the placebo. The dose in one study was 250 mg. 4 times daily.
- Provides Gastrointestinal Relief: Ginger is commonly used for an upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, and IBS.
- Can Prevent Sea Sickness: It has been shown to be far superior to Dramamine, an OTC drug, used for motion sickness. It can reduce symptoms associated with motion sickness such as nausea, vomiting and cold sweat. There is a reason that you see ginger candy in gift shops at boat docks to purchase!
- Relief from Vomiting and Nausea Associated with Pregnancy: It can be useful even in the most severe form. And unlike anti-vomiting, drugs ginger is safe during pregnancy and only a small amount is required. Pregnant women can safely take up to one gram.
- Protective against Colorectal Cancer. Gingerols which is the main active component in ginger is also the one responsible for its distinctive flavor. This component may also inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells.
- It can Induce Cell Death in Ovarian Cancer Cells. Again, this is thanks to the gingerols in ginger. A pro-inflammatory state is thought to be important in the development of ovarian cancer. In the presence of ginger a few key indicators of inflammation were decreased in the ovarian cancer cells.
- Immune Boosting Properties. Since it has anti-viral properties, ginger can be useful to consume when you have a cold or flu or other viral infection.
- Lowers Cholesterol and improves lipid metabolism. Studies show that ginger can have a dramatic effect on cardiovascular health. Studies used 250 micrograms of ginger
- Anti-diabetic effects. In several studies ginger has been shown to help reduce blood sugar levels, regulate insulin response and also reduced body weight.
- Use it for Colds and Sore Throat. It is a natural remedy to soothe an irritated throat. Regular intake of ginger stimulates the secretion of mucus which soothes and provides throat relief. Natural oil in ginger acts as an expectorant and thus not only useful for colds but also for upper respiratory infections, coughs, asthma and bronchitis
- Use for PMS cramp pain. A 2009 study found that 250 mg. 4 times a day was just as effective as ibuprofen for pain relief associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Ways to Incorporate Ginger into Your Diet
You don’t need to use much ginger to reap its benefits. Whenever possible opt for fresh over the dried spice. The fresh ginger will contain higher levels of gingerol. Most supermarkets carry the mature ginger which will have the skin that you need to peel. Young ginger is more often found in Asian markets and this ginger skin does not need to be peeled. Fresh ginger can be stored in your fridge for up to 3 weeks if left unpeeled. You can also store it in your freezer unpeeled for up to 6 months.
For cooking, if added in the beginning of the cooking process, it will add a subtle flavor while adding it at the end of cooking will lend the dish a more pungent taste.
- For nausea: make ginger tea by steeping 1 or 2 ½ inch slices of ginger in a cup of hot water.
- For arthritis: ¼ an inch (or more) cooked in food. (The more you use the quicker your relief may be)
- Add it to rice dishes
- Mix ginger with coconut aminos and garlic to make a sauce for stir fry
- Add ginger to your oil and vinegar salad dressing
- Add it to sautéed vegetable dishes.
- Mince a teaspoon and add to your regular tea
- Add to marinades, stews and soups
- Add some to your morning smoothie
- You can add in ginger supplementation in capsule form or in tincture form.
When to Use Caution
- Don’t give to children under 2 years of age.
- If you have a sensitive stomach, take ginger with some food in your belly.
- In adults, do not take more than 4 grams per day
- Pregnant women should only consume up to 1 gram per day.
- Avoid ginger supplementation if you are on blood thinner
- If you are on diabetic meds, ginger can reduce blood sugar levels.
- If you are on blood pressure meds, it can reduce your blood pressure.
- Always talk to your doctor if adding ginger in as a supplement to your diet since some meds can interact with herbs.
Food for Thought:
From reading some of the cautions above, it makes me wonder, wouldn’t it be better to use herbs to say lower blood pressure or blood sugar instead of a med that comes with side effects? What do you think?
If you need more support, contact me at [email protected] http://www.trufoodsnutrition.com
Balch, P. ( 2012) Prescription for Herbal Healing. 2nd Edition. NY: Avery Publishing
Gaby, A.(2006) The Natural Pharmacy. Revised and updated 3rd edition. NY: Three Rivers Press
Hoffman, D. Medical Herbalism. (2003) The science and practice of herbal medicine. VT: Healing Arts
Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine. CA: Basic Health Publications
Skenderi, G. (2003) Herbal Vade Mecum. NJ: Herbacy Press
As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.