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The Health Benefits of Ginger

Updated: Oct 18

Farihah Choudhury explores the Healing Powers of Ginger: A Natural Remedy for Health and Wellness


In the era of Berocca and paracetamol, the remarkable advancements in pharmaceutical drugs in the 21st century have transformed the way we perceive and manage illnesses.

While Nobel Prize-winning medications have undeniably improved healthcare in numerous ways, enhancing human longevity and vitality, there is a downside to our reliance on these miraculous white pills: it has disconnected us from the healing power of nature. Instead of investigating the root causes of common ailments such as colds or headaches, we often reach for a quick fix like ibuprofen and carry on with our daily routines. However, turning to everyday natural remedies may offer long-term preventive solutions for aches and pains, reintroducing us to the healing potential of the world around us. One such natural remedy is ginger, a consumable rhizome with numerous health benefits.


Glorious Ginger

Ginger, a member of the Zingiberaceae family, is a widely-used spice in traditional Asian cuisine known for its numerous health benefits. This versatile plant's root can be consumed in various forms: raw, powdered, juiced, as an oil, dried, or even in lozenges and sweets. Naturally, ginger is rich in essential nutrients such as zinc, phosphate, magnesium, vitamin B6, riboflavin, and folate, all crucial for the proper functioning of our bodies. Folate deficiency is prevalent in the UK population and can have adverse effects on fetal outcomes in pregnant women. Ginger also contains several advantageous compounds, including shogaols and gingerols, and is generally recognized for its antioxidant properties. Consequently, incorporating ginger into your diet can be beneficial and has been used for years to alleviate the symptoms of various ailments.




A Spicy Solution

Ginger has been scientifically studied for its effectiveness in alleviating nausea, making it a valuable remedy for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and pregnant women experiencing morning sickness. Furthermore, the compounds in ginger can ease indigestion by stimulating the production of gastrointestinal lubricants and enhancing the activity of digestive enzymes such as trypsin and pancreatic lipase. The distinctive spicy flavor of ginger, attributed to a compound known as a ketone, classifies it as a diaphoretic, which means it induces sweating. This property is beneficial for treating cold and flu symptoms. Ginger is also recognized for its potential in reducing pain and inflammation. For example, studies have shown that ginger, when consumed with cinnamon, another spice, can effectively reduce inflammation, as demonstrated in Iranian female athletes.

Overall, ginger offers numerous natural health benefits and may serve as an alternative or complementary treatment when incorporated into a balanced diet. However, it's important to note that sufficient evidence is currently lacking to consider ginger a complete replacement for physician-prescribed medication, and it should not be used as such.

Five Ways to Incorporate Ginger Into Your Diet

  1. Diced: Add diced ginger to your curries or stews for a flavorful and healthful twist.

  2. Tea: Slice ginger and combine it with a lemon wedge in hot water to create a soothing and aromatic tea.

  3. Lozenges: Use ginger lozenges to ease a sore throat and enjoy its therapeutic benefits.

  4. Powder: Incorporate powdered ginger into various meals and drinks to enhance their flavor and nutritional value.

  5. Smoothie: Blend fresh ginger with your favorite vegetables to create a nutritious and tasty smoothie.

Incorporating ginger into your daily diet is a simple and delicious way to tap into its natural health-promoting properties. However, always consult with a healthcare professional before making significant dietary changes or using ginger as a substitute for prescribed medications.

 

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Sources:

Chang W.P., Peng, Y.X. (2018) Does the Oral Administration of Ginger Reduce Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting?: A Meta-analysis of 10 Randomized Controlled Trials. 

Cancer Nurs. 2018 Oct 6.

Sridharan K, Sivaramakrishnan G. (2018) Interventions for treating nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: a network meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis of randomized clinical trials. Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2018 Sep 27:1-8.

Bode A.M., Dong Z. (2011) The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 7. [Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/]

Viljoen, E., Visser, J., Koen, N., & Musekiwa, A. (2014). A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting. Nutrition Journal, 13, 20. http://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-13-20

Marco Valussi (2012) Functional foods with digestion-enhancing properties, International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 63:1, 82-89, DOI: 10.3109/09637486.2011.627841

Mashhadi, N. S., Ghiasvand, R., Askari, G., Feizi, A., Hariri, M., Darvishi, L., Hajishafiee, M. (2013). Influence of Ginger and Cinnamon Intake on Inflammation and Muscle Soreness Endued by Exercise in Iranian Female Athletes. International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 4(Suppl 1), S11–S15.

Jeena K1, Liju VB, Kuttan R (2013) Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activities of essential oil from ginger. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2013 Jan-Mar;57(1):51-62. 

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