Zingiber officinale, or more commonly known as ginger, is a perennial that grows in tropical areas such as Jamaica and is cultivated in the United States. The actual ginger that many people are accustomed to is the fresh or dried rhizome (rootstalk) portion of the plant. This is usually whole or in powdered form. Typically ginger is used for cooking and is a staple in many foods such as gingerbread cookies, pies, cakes, and sausage. However, ginger is much more than a cooking herb. Surprisingly, ginger has so many health benefits. Below is a list of the 15 most common health benefits of ginger:
1. Ovarian and Colon Cancer Treatment — In April of 2006, the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center released a study that found ginger powder applied to ovarian cancer cells caused them to eventually die. Additionally, a University of Minnesota study revealed that ginger inhibits the growth of colorectal cancer cells.
2. Nausea and Morning Sickness — Ginger is just as effective as vitamin B6 in combating nausea related to motion sickness and morning sickness related to pregnancy.
3. Reduces Pain and Inflammation — Ginger is a natural painkiller and has anti-inflammatory properties.
4. Heartburn Relief — Consumed in the form of a tea, ginger is great at relieving heartburn.
5. Migraine Headache Relief — A cause of migraine headaches is when prostaglandins inflict pain and inflammation within blood vessels. Ginger has been proven to stop this from happening thereby providing relief from migraine headache pain.
6. Menstrual Cramp Relief — Combining brown sugar with ginger tea has been used to treat menstrual cramps for years.
7. Cold/Flu Prevention and Treatment — The positive effects that ginger has on the digestive tract is amazing and it is no wonder that it can help prevent and treat symptoms of the flu. It is also great to aid in the treatment of food poisoning.
8. Prevention and Treatment of Blood Clots — It appears as though ginger has the same effect on blood clots as aspirin.
9. Lowers High Cholesterol — Thromboxane is an active ingredient in many cholesterol lowering medications and also in ginger. Therefore, ginger can help to lower cholesterol.
10. Stress Relief — The content of cineole in ginger is a mood enhancer and can help to relieve stress.
11. Treatment of Respiratory Infections — Ginger has a warming effect on the upper respiratory tract which can aid in the treatment of respiratory infections.
12. Aids in Circulatory Disorders — Ginger has a unique way of making platelets less sticky which has a positive effect on the circulatory system.
13. Mouth Freshener — In tea form, ginger has a very refreshing effect on the mouth and breath.
14. Rheumatoid Arthritis — The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger can provide some much needed relief from arthritis.
15. Treatment of Impotency — Ginger is a natural aphrodisiac and has been shown to effectively treat impotence and premature ejaculation.
The healing benefits of ginger are undeniable and there is no doubt that this miracle herb should be incorporated into everyone’s daily diet. However, simply going to the grocery store, buying some ginger and gnawing on it like an apple will not give the desired benefits listed above. For ginger to be truly effective, it must be bought, stored, and prepared properly. Here are a few tips to help you get started…
Fresh is Best! Always buy fresh ginger when possible and make sure it is firm to the touch with a smooth skin and a spicy fragrance. If the skin is wrinkled or cracked, then the ginger is probably old and not any good.
The best way to store fresh bought ginger is to put in in a brown paper bag and place it in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator. This storage method will typically keep your ginger fresh for a few weeks. Should you need to keep it stored longer, peel the ginger, wrap it tightly in foil and place it the freezer.
Fresh ginger is traditionally sold as a whole root and can be very difficult to cut and chew. Therefore many people will simply cut small pieces and mix it with other items. A common use is to take a small piece of ginger root and add it to boiling water to make ginger tea. A simple internet search can yield thousands of different ways to use and prepare ginger root.
Link to University of Michigan Cancer Study: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-04/uomh-gco033106.php
Link to University of Minnesota Cancer Study: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031029064357.htm