Herb of the Month - Ginger!
Author: Angela Fleming Date Posted:1 June 2017
When it comes to health, ginger just about covers it all. It is one of the most versatile herbs used in herbal medicine. It is highly nutritious and packs a pungent punch when it comes to culinary cuisines.
Eat ginger! Confucius wrote about it in his Analects, he was never without ginger when he ate. Ginger has been featured in ancient texts such as the Talmud, Koran and the Bible. Dioscorides, a Greek physician recorded in the De Materia Medica that ginger as a useful digestive aid and warming to the stomach. Ginger was so highly valued in the 13th century that one pound was worth the same as a sheep!
So what exactly does ginger do and what is it good for? Let us investigate.
What makes ginger so special?
Ginger’s health promoting properties are all attributed to its rich phytochemistry. Ginger is actually a rhizome; an underground stem that emits roots and produces leaves at its apex. It contains oleo resinous compounds such as zingiberene, zingerone, gingerols and shogaols. These constituents are not only responsible for its amazing flavour but its therapeutic benefits too.
Ginger has proven to be an herb ninja when it comes to our health. Not only does it taste great, it has been demonstrated to be beneficial in supporting many health concerns.
Ginger is a circulatory stimulant, it has been used traditionally to stimulate and enhance blood flow throughout the body. It has been shown to improve and maintain peripheral circulation, particularly to the legs, hands and feet. It warms the body, joints and muscles and is useful in aiding in the absorption of other supplements due to its stimulatory affects.
If you experience cold hands and feet try some ginger capsules or tea over winter to assist in warming the body.
The inflammatory response heavily influences pain. Inflammatory mediators are directly released to the site of pain, resulting in redness, swelling, pain and heat. Ginger has been shown to exert anti-inflammatory and analgesic affects.
Gingerol and shogaol have been shown to interfere with the inflammatory response by inhibiting prostaglandin and leukotriene synthesis by suppressing certain enzymes involved in the production of inflammation.
Topical application of ginger creams or compresses have been shown to reduce the release of substance P from afferent neurons. Substance P is involved in pain perception, it is released from the peripheral terminals of sensory fibers in the joints, muscles and skin.
Ginger is very useful in helping to alleviate pain and inflammation in inflammatory conditions such as mild osteoarthritis. Ginger has demonstrated its assistance in helping to relieve pain and swelling associated with mild osteoarthritis. It also helps to increase joint mobility and helps to alleviate morning stiffness and muscular discomfort.
Clinical evidence* shows ginger in helpful in relieving menstrual cramps and may help to reduce heavy bleeding in young women. Daily supplementation of 1500mg of ginger during menstruation significantly reduced the severity and intensity of painful cramps.
Ginger may help relieve migraines as well as headaches. It has displayed the ability to help reduce the incidence and frequency of headaches/migraines especially when used in conjunction with feverfew.
Ginger is an antiemetic, it helps reduce nausea and vomiting associated with different circumstances.
Supportive evidence from clinical trials suggests that consuming ginger during pregnancy reduces the duration and severity of nausea and vomiting caused by morning sickness. 1g of ginger taken in divided doses during pregnancy was substantially more effective compared to placebo in reducing vomiting and nausea.
Ginger has been clinically shown to reduce the incidence of motion sickness and helps reduce the associated nausea and vomiting. It may also help in the prophylaxis of nausea and vomiting caused by motion sickness.
Ginger covers several basis when it comes to gastrointestinal health. It helps to support healthy digestive function and has been used traditionally to relieve bloating, colic and indigestion, intestinal spasm, and flatulence. It helps aid digestion by stimulating the flow of saliva, bile and gastric secretions. Ginger helps increases gastrointestinal motility and gastric emptying.
Try including ginger into your diet on a regular basis. Whether it be in fresh or powered form, they each pack a flavoursome punch. Try adding a few slices to flavour your water, add it to a freshly squeezed juice, homemade stock, stir-fry, or marinade.
Did you know ginger is high in antioxidants? The addition of ginger to the daily diet can help lower the levels of free radicals in your body. There is so much to love about this versatile herb! Try some, your insides will love you for it, especially your taste buds!
|Written by Angela Fleming|
Angela (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified naturopath who strongly believes in living a healthy and happy lifestyle. Angela believes being active, taking time out for yourself on a regular basis and consuming a balanced healthy diet (with the odd sneaky treat included now and then) is the fundamental key to keeping our minds and bodies in good health.
Angela loves to pass on her knowledge of healthy and happy living to her two young children, who love to experiment in the kitchen with her and train alongside her in Karate.