Ginger’s rich yet versatile flavor made it so appreciated for spicing our foods, deserts and beverages. But there’s more to ginger than culinary pleasure. This amazing root contains valuable nutrients capable of relieving several symptoms but also preventing and even treating a large variety of diseases. That is why ginger is used in traditional medicine of many countries and regions, in its natural form but also as a dietary supplement.
What we call ginger is actually the rhizome of the plant known as Zingiber officinale. Zingerone, shogaols and gingerols are the main substances responsible for ginger’s strong “personality”. Gingerols have antibacterial, analgesic, antipyretic and sedative properties. Research studies conducted by the University of Michigan have found that gingerols kill ovarian cancer cells at a rate comparable with the one of traditionally used chemotherapy drugs. Other studies revealed that ginger can also slow down the progression of colorectal cancer cells and regular consumption of ginger root can lower the risk of colon cancer.
Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties, also attributed to gingerols, make this plant a natural relief of many health conditions associated with inflammation such as arthritis, muscle soreness, headaches, migraines, toothaches, cough, sore throat and nasal congestion (stuffy nose). It’s a great home remedy for reducing cold and flu symptoms as it also has antipyretic properties (reduces fever).
The role of ginger in improving digestion and assisting in a number of minor digestive issues is also worth taking into account. Studies have shown that the gingerols and shogaols contained by ginger promote the secretion of digestive juices and neutralize acids, making it an all-natural (and inexpensive) remedy for heartburn and acid reflux.
The reason behind ginger’s efficiency for reducing nausea and vomiting caused by morning sickness, motion sickness and chemotherapy is still unknown, but it does seem to work in many cases. As a result, there are many ginger-based dietary supplements available for these purposes.
While ginger is often consumed for its great flavor, through its amazing properties it can make a very cheap, natural and easily accessible painkiller, immunity booster and even antiemetic (against vomiting and nausea). It may not work for everyone, but it’s always good to find natural alternatives to drugs since so many of them come with undesirable side-effects.
Nevertheless, if you have a serious health condition or take medical treatment it’s best to consult your physician before starting to use ginger as a treatment. Ginger interacts with several medications, such as warfarin and is not recommended for people that suffer from gallstones.