Ginger has a long and interesting history as a medicinal product. Ancient cultures, particularly throughout Asia and the Middle East, have utilised the health benefits of this tropical plant for treatment of sickness, nausea and other illnesses.
The Health Benefits Of Ginger
The beneficial health properties of ginger mainly lie in its essential oils, such as gingerols, which enhance its strong flavour and can be harvested for medicinal purposes. Ginger is packed full of nutrients and chemical compounds which can have a strong affect on your body and brain. Here are four of the top health benefits of ginger.
Helps to Calm Nausea and Vomiting
The first thing you’ll come across when searching for the health benefits of ginger is sure to be its ability to stop feelings of sickness. Many clinical studies have proven the effectiveness of ginger when it comes to calming nausea and vomiting. In fact, the anti-sickness properties of ginger are so potent that the plant is regularly used by people going through chemotherapy, as a way to hold off chemo-induced vomiting and nausea. As well as this, pregnant women have been known to experience relief from morning sickness when taking doses of ginger for short periods of time.
One benefit of ginger for sickness is that the active substances within it are so highly concentrated that you don’t need to take much to feel its health benefits. To combat nausea, the most highly recommended recipe is a cup of ginger tea made with one or two ½-inch slices of fresh ginger in hot water.
Aids the Digestive System
The rhizones in ginger have traditionally been used to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms of many different stomach conditions. It is considered to be one of the best natural carminatives– a substance which cures excessive gas and wind. Other digestive issues which have been shown to be soothed by ginger include colic and dyspepsia.
The reason ginger aids the digestion process may be because it increases digestive fluids, such as saliva. This process alleviates issues related to indigestion such as flatulence, constipation and bloating etc.
Eases Muscle Pain
We all get aches and pains from time to time, whether they’re from exercise, age or a health condition. One study of people suffering from pain after performing excessive elbow exercise found that ginger was able to provide highly effective relief from muscle aches.
Ginger doesn’t appear to provide immediate pain relief; instead, it is believed to reduce the day-to-day progression of painful problems when taken on a long term basis.
The pain-relieving properties of ginger are possibly down to the fact that the herb works as an anti-inflammatory. Patients with osteoarthritis who take ginger extract supplements or apply ginger topically usually require less medication for symptoms such as joint pains and stiffness.
Lowers Blood Sugar
One of the most recently discovered health benefits of ginger is that it may be able to lower the blood sugar levels of people with type 2 diabetes. Over the last few years there have been a few studies into the effects that this tangy spice has on blood glucose, one of which concluded that participants who took two grams of ginger a day lowered their fasting blood sugar by 12%. Other investigations into the link between ginger and diabetes found that it could lead to a reduction in markers for oxidised lipoproteins- one of the major risk factors for heart disease.
The scientists behind these studies aren’t exactly sure how ginger works to lower the levels of sugar in the blood but it is possibly a result of an enzyme that breaks down glucose storage molecules. Take a look at the diabetes.co.uk page on ginger for more information.
How to Incorporate More Ginger into Your Diet
Ginger comes in many different forms, so there is no shortage of ways you can enjoy this plant and its medicinal benefits. You can purchase or prepare ginger as an oil, frozen, fresh, powdered or even crystallised. In order to really reap the health benefits of ginger it is best to always choose the fresh, rather than dried, powdered form. In addition to containing many more gingerols and anti-inflammatory properties, fresh ginger has a much stronger taste and you’re sure to enjoy it more as a cooking ingredient.
Finding fresh ginger is easy to do and you’ll have no trouble coming across some in your local supermarket or one of the great fresh produce markets in and around Richmond. When shopping, always aim to find a hand of ginger with shiny, taut skin and a strong spicy smell. When you get it home, keep your ginger in an air-tight bag in the fridge to keep it fresh.
Here is a list of tasty ways to eat ginger that you could try in your kitchen today!