I have been cooking since my sophomore year of high school – which is around the time I was diagnosed with celiac disease. Back then, I always followed recipes because I had yet to develop my own style. But through the years of cooking, I …
The health benefits of ginger are vast.
Zingiber Officinale (which will now be referred by its common name ginger for the rest of the essay) is a part of the Zingiberaceae family. Many refer to it as a “Superfood” due to its wide range of health benefits.
Ginger is a Rhizome
Ginger is a Rhizome that when young (under 8 months of age) has a pink and yellowish colored skin that doesn’t need to be removed.
When older (above 8-9 months of age) ginger has a brownish and yellowish skin.
Ginger is made up of “Volatile Oil (1% to 3%, occasionally more), primarily containing the sesquiterpenes zingiberene and β-bisabolene; oleoresin (4% to 10%) containing gingerols, gingerdiols, gingerdiones, dihydrogingerdiones, shogaols; lipids (6% to 8%)”(Hoffmann, p. 597).
All of these components are what help make this potent herb so effective in treating such a variety of symptoms.
Ginger is Used for Many Things
As mentioned previously, ginger is good for many things. Specifically, ginger is a:
♦ Carminative (it’s a well-known “treatment for motion sickness” (Hoffmann, p. 597) and commonly used to improve and treat problems with digestion),
♦ Antispasmodic (it’s often used externally to help treat “fibrositis and muscle sprains” (Hoffmann, 597))
♦ Rubefacient (it helps with “bad circulation, chilblains and cramps” (Hoffmann, 597))
♦ Diaphoretic (Encourages the body to perspire in order to help its elimination process)
♦ Emmenagogue (it encourages menstruation)
With all of that information, you can see why ginger is so popular and frequently used.
Ginger and Nausea
Additionally, studies have found the ginger is highly effective in easing symptoms of nausea.
It has even been reported that it could successfully replace antiemetic (drug that is effective against nausea) drugs due to its similar actions, “An antiemetic effect of ginger in the control of postoperative nausea and vomiting has been supported by a meta-analysis” (Lee, et al).
This is why ginger is so effective against CIV and also effective against other instances of nausea and vomiting such as nausea related to pregnancy, indigestion, and others.
Ginger and CIV
Cancer is one of the worlds most hated disease and the chemotherapy treatments that come along with the disease are terrible.
One of the most common side effects of chemotherapy is vomiting and believe it or not Ginger can help ease this side effect, “in patients receiving chemotherapy, taking ginger powder leads to decrease of CIV” (Yekta, et al) (“CIV” meaning Chemotherapy-induced vomiting).
Not only does it help with CIV it also helps with nausea and vomiting that occurs from anticipatory CIV.
This was proven in a clinical study published in the Iranian Journal Of Nursing & Midwifery Research journal, where it was found that “Vomiting cases were significantly lower in the ginger group at anticipatory…phases” (Yekta, et al).
Ginger and Blood Sugar
Trials have also shown that ginger is an effective anti-hyperglycemic and can be useful in treating diabetics.
A study in the Journal Of Pharmacy & Life Sciences reported that “The administration of Zingiber officinale ethanolic extract at a dose of 200 mg/kg body weight showed a significant anti-hyperglycemic effect which was evident from the 1st day onwards” (Venkata Kullai Setty, et al).
The fact that ginger caused a noticeable decrease of glucose in the rat’s blood on just the first day is incredible but it gets better, “blood glucose level of diabetic animal significantly reduced from 245 mg/dl to 87 mg/dl on the 7th day” (Venkata Kullai Setty, et al).
Ginger is a Part of Many Traditions
The use of ginger in regards to its medicinal effects have been used traditionally for millenniums.
People from all around the world use ginger to ease an array of symptoms, “[g]inger has been used for thousands of years for the treatment of numerous ailments, such as colds, nausea, arthritis, migraines, and hypertension” (Bode and Dong).
And that’s not all, the tradition behind the use of ginger runs deep and especially in Asian lands, “Indians and Chinese are believed to have produced ginger as a tonic root for over 5000 years to treat many ailments” (Bode and Dong).
However, the Chinese and Indians were not the only ones in history to use ginger for its healing properties.
For instance, many countries and continents traded with China and India for the spice. They valued the health benefits of this herb so much that they paid high prices for it. (Bode and Dong).
Incorporating Ginger into Your Diet
The health benefits of ginger make it a widely favored food/spice to eat.
Ginger can be enjoyed through a freshly brewed tea using the raw root or using a store bought tea blend.
It can be enjoyed by cooking with it and adding it to curries, rice, and stir-fry.
If you want to harness the benefits of Ginger beyond its raw capabilities, you can ferment it.
Ginger is a potent prebiotic. This means it that can help your ferments thrive.
Additionally, through the fermentation process, many of its nutrients will become more bioavailable, making its beneficial impacts potentially more potent. Potentially making this “super-food” more super.
Want to make your own ferment with Ginger? Try out my Wild Fermented Ginger “Soda” recipe!
Ginger is an extremely wonderful herb and has can help ease such a vast amount of symptoms.
As previously mentioned, it has been used for centuries to help ease inflammation, nausea, headaches, pain, and illness.
Moreover, it has been scientifically proven to be effective against nausea (especially related to CIV) and a potentially effective anti-hyperglycemic.
Due to all of its benefits, it’s no wonder people refer to this herb as a superfood.
Bode, A., & Dong, Z. (2011, January 1). The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. Retrieved April 18, 2015, from the National Center for Biotechnology Information website (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/)
Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press.
Lee, J., & Oh, H. (2013). Ginger as an Antiemetic Modality for Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Oncology Nursing Forum, 40(2), 163-170.
Venkata Kullai Setty, N., Santhosh, D., Narasimha Rao, D., Sanjeeva Kumar, A., & Charles Martin, A. (2011). Preliminary phytochemical screening and antidiabetic activity of Zingiber officinale rhizomes. International Journal Of Pharmacy & Life Sciences, 2(12), 1287-1292.
Yekta, Z. P., Ebrahimi, S. M., Hosseini, M., Nasrabadi, A. N., Sedighi, S., Surmaghi, M. S., & Madani, H. (2012). Ginger as a miracle against chemotherapy-induced vomiting. Iranian Journal Of Nursing & Midwifery Research, 17(5), 325-329.