Ginger for winter wellness

Diabetes, Asthma, Immune, Joint disorders | April 21, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

Immune, diabetes, Pain

Ginger for winter wellness

Pungent and aromatic, this root spice, native to South East Asia, has been used for centuries not only for culinary purposes, but also as medicine.

These days you can find it in cuisines all around the world, as a fresh root or dried powder, preserved, pickled or crystallised, in curries and stir-fries, cakes, cookies, and confectionary, as well as added to beverages such as fresh juices, tea, and ginger ale.

Its botanical name is Zingiber officinale, but we know it as ginger.

Why is it so Good for You?

Substances in ginger – especially gingerols and shogaols – have been found to have:

  • anti-inflammatory,
  • antioxidant,
  • anticancer,
  • antimicrobial, and
  • anti-allergic activities that are responsible for its therapeutic medicinal properties.

The rhizome, which is the horizontal underground root of the ginger, is the main portion that is consumed and also the part that contains the beneficial components.

Here are 4 reasons why you should make the most of ginger this winter:

  • Immune boosting - although there is no direct evidence that ginger is effective for colds and flu, it has been traditionally used as folk remedy for its warming properties, primarily to treat colds and flu, and to reduce coughs. Studies show that ginger can modulate the immune system.
  • Analgesic – many studies report that ginger exerts analgesic effect. Use ginger to sooth the pain of a sore throat.
  • Reduces fever – compounds in ginger can lower body temperature. This was found in a study of rats. When the rats were injected with ginger compounds, their body temperature decreased.
  • Antibacterial - ginger has shown antimicrobial activity against broad spectrum of bacteria. It is possible that it can act against rhinovirus, which is the most common infective virus implicated in the common cold.

The best way to use ginger if you have a cold is to make ginger tea. Add thin slices of raw ginger to a cup of boiling water, with some fresh lemon or lime juice (or lemon slices) and 1 tablespoon of raw honey. Alternatively, enjoy a warm spiced carrot soup with orange and ginger, loaded with antioxidants, as recommended by the American Institute for Cancer Research (see recipe below). Ginger is also available in tea bags for convenience.
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Other Health Benefits

Nausea. Perhaps the most well known effect of ginger is its ability to relieve symptoms of nausea and vomiting. It is recommended for pregnancy-induced nausea, seasickness, motion sickness, and for nausea associated with chemotherapy treatment.        

 Recommended dose:

  • Morning Sickness - 250mg 4xday or 500mg twice daily
  • Motion Sickness - 1g 0.5-4 hours before travel
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea - 1-4 g/d and no more than 4 g/d

Period pain. Dysmenorrhea is a common condition that involves painful cramping associated with menstruation. One trial indicated that ginger was as effective as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for pain relief, and another trial showed significant reductions in the severity and duration of pain in the group that was treated with ginger. Recommended dose: 1000-1500mg/day.

Arthritis. One of the many attributes of ginger is its ability to reduce inflammation. It can be used in conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis to reduce joint swelling and pain.  Recommended dose (osteoarthritis): 170mg 3xday or 255mg twice daily, and no more than 4g/d.

Cancer. Numerous studies have shown that ginger is effective in suppressing and preventing cancer growth in various types of cancer, including lung, colon, skin, pancreas, prostate, liver, ovary, breast, and kidney. This is associated with its potent antioxidant activity.

Diabetes. Ginger may be used in prevention and treatment of diabetes. Studies have shown that it can reduce levels of blood sugar, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Asthma. Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways, characterised by airway contraction. There is evidence that ginger can relax airway smooth muscle; thus, it may be used as a therapy to help manage asthma symptoms,

How to store ginger

Store the whole, unpeeled ginger root in a resealable plastic bag in the drawer of the refrigerator or in your freezer. You can grate it frozen.

How Should I Take Ginger

The best way to take ginger is to add it to your food. Ginger also comes in supplemental form, such as tablets and capsules that contain a higher concentration compared to fresh ginger and can taken as a therapeutic alternative for the conditions mentioned above.
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Safety

Ginger does not have significant adverse effects. In fact, the only reported adverse effects of ginger include abdominal discomfort, heartburn, and diarrhoea. In addition, ginger as an antiplatelet effect, and can increase the risk of bleeding.  It is recommended that you stop taking ginger supplements two weeks prior to any surgery or significant dental procedure.

Carrot Ginger Soup

  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (vegetable stock or broth may be substituted)
  • 4 large strips orange zest
  • 1 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, optional
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives (dill may be substituted)

In large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat and add carrots and onions. Sauté about 7-8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté additional 2 minutes.

Add broth and orange zest strips. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, uncover and simmer until carrots are tender, about 10-12 minutes. Let mixture cool for several minutes. Discard orange zest strips.

Working in batches, in food processor or blender purée mixture until velvety smooth. Return soup to pot. Stir in ginger and orange and lemon juices. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Over low heat, let soup simmer for 5 minutes for flavors to mingle. Garnish with chives and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

 

References

Bishal Gyawali; Bishesh Sharma Poudyal; Mahesh Iddawela. (2016). Cheaper Options in the Prevention of CINV. J Glob Oncol, 2(3), 145–453.

Bode, A. M., & Dong, Z 2011, ‘The amazing and mighty ginger’, in Benzie IFF & Wachtel-Galor S (eds), Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.

Lakhan, S. E., Ford, C. T., & Tepper, D. (2015). Zingiberaceae extracts for pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition Journal, 14, 50.

Mashhadi, N. S., Ghiasvand, R., Askari, G., et al. (2013). Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: review of current evidence. International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 4(Suppl 1), S36-42.

Medscape 2017, Ginger (Herbs/Suppl) Drugs & Diseases, retrieved 20 April 2017,

Semwal, R. B., Semwal, D. K., Combrinck, S., & Viljoen, A. M. (2015). Gingerols and shogaols: Important nutraceutical principles from ginger. Phytochemistry, 117, 554–568.

Townsend, E. A., Siviski, M. E., Zhang, Y., et al. (2013). Effects of ginger and its constituents on airway smooth muscle relaxation and calcium regulation. American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, 48(2), 157–63.

 

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