Ginger is a fibrous herbal root that is commonly used in Eastern and Caribbean cuisines. It imparts a somewhat spicy flavor and a little heat to many dishes and teas. The root can be used fresh or in its dried powdered form. It is quite well-known for its medicinal qualities. Ginger is widely used to help with digestive issues. It’s also quite effective in alleviating the most common symptoms of colds.
In this article, we will look more closely at how to use ginger. We will also discuss the nutritional value and the health benefits of this spicy rhizome.
Ginger Health Benefits
Ginger’s health benefits are many and quite diverse. Many use this herb in place of prescription and over-the-counter medications to aid in the treatment of:
- Pain reduction
- Digestive issues
- Common cold
- High LDL cholesterol
Bear in mind that, while this root can help in easing some of the symptoms of these issues, you shouldn’t use it to replace a proper medical treatment.
Anti-Inflammation and Pain Reduction
Inflammation is a leading cause of many health conditions and diseases. Inflammation of the joints, often caused by autoimmune diseases, can be very painful. Ginger seems to have a positive effect when it comes to reducing inflammation in people with osteoarthritis. A group of researchers published a study on PubMed regarding the anti-inflammatory properties of this root and the results are promising. You can take internally or apply it topically, in the form of oil containing ginger extract or essential oil, to reduce inflammation.
Ginger is effective for pain reduction. Eastern cultures have used this root as a natural painkiller for centuries. It appears to be just as effective as NSAIDs in calming painful menstrual cramps and gastrointestinal illnesses. It seems it can also help to reduce muscle pain following exercise.
Nausea is a common complaint during the first trimester of pregnancy, while traveling, and while undergoing chemotherapy. Morning sickness, motion sickness, and cancer treatment-related nausea and vomiting can be overwhelming and exhausting. These can also cause serious dehydration. Ginger has been successfully used to treat both nausea and vomiting when taken as a tea.
The substances in this root make it a natural digestive aid. Persons with digestive issues, especially poor or slow digestion, do well by incorporating fresh root into meals, such as soups and smoothies. For some it is quite effective when it comes to reducing gas.
Boosts Immune System
This spicy root is a natural infection fighter. It has antibacterial properties similar to garlic. The substances it contains are helpful in fighting the rhinovirus, also known as the common cold. Lozenges made with ginger extract are very warming and are beneficial in soothing sore throats and nasal congestion.
Keeps Cholesterol Levels in Check
High LDL cholesterol levels are linked to a risk for heart disease. Ginger has been shown to help lower LDL and blood triglyceride levels. It is also shown to promote blood circulation. It has blood thinning properties similar to aspirin.
Nutritional Value of Ginger
Ginger contains high amounts of specific minerals and vitamins. Its main constituents are paradol and gingerol. Paradol and gingerol have powerful antioxidant properties necessary for eradicating the free radicals that are so damaging to our health.
Choline and folate are both plentiful in this root. Choline is necessary for our livers to function properly and for detoxification. Folate is a B vitamin that is responsible in part for cell regeneration.
Ginger is a good source of the minerals potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, and calcium. Potassium helps to regulate fluid and electrolyte balance in our bodies. This is important in preventing dehydration. Phosphorous is important for bone and organ health and for maintaining hormonal balance. Magnesium plays many important roles, most notably muscle health, including our hearts. It has a calming effect and is a natural sleep aid. Calcium is vital to the health of our bones and teeth.
The raw root is a good source of dietary fiber. Adding it to smoothies and salad dressings is a great way to get raw fiber into our diets.
It contains zero cholesterol, making it a heart-healthy food to include regularly in our diets.
Ginger is an acquired taste for some. It is a little spicy when eaten raw. Cooked into dishes it imparts a warm and fragrant quality. It is often used in Eastern dishes, like curries. In the West, people often use it in carbonated beverages and seasonal baking. Gingerbread and ginger ale come to mind when thinking about its use in Western cuisine.
There are several ways to take advantage of the medicinal and nutritional qualities of ginger. Incorporating it into dishes is likely the most popular and beneficial way. You can also buy herbal tinctures of ginger for a more powerful medicinal effect. You can also use the essential oil to infuse or blend into a carrier oil to use topically. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners add pieces of the dried root to prescriptive herbal teas. They also use fresh root shavings in compresses for stimulating certain organs. Below are some recipes for the various uses of this exotic root.
I cup boiling water
I thin slice of ginger root
2 whole cloves
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
1 tsp raw honey (optional)
Add the ginger and cloves to the boiling water and allow to lightly simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the lemon and honey.
Enjoy to soothe a cold or as a digestive tonic.
Healing & Comforting Congee
1 cup of organic rice
10 cups of water
1 to 2 TBS grated ginger root
6 thinly sliced shitake mushrooms
2 thinly sliced stalks of celery
Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and cover the pot. Simmer for up to 2 hours until the rice is soft like porridge and the vegetables have nearly melted. You can then serve it with sliced scallions, bean sprouts, or shredded chicken. Season with salt & pepper or tamari to taste.
2 cups water
½ cup grated fresh ginger root
Gently boil the water and ginger for 5 minutes. Allow to steep until the water is warm to the touch, not scalding hot. Soak the washcloth in the ginger-infused water, ring out, and place over inflamed joints or lower back pain area. Keep repeating this as the washcloth cools down. You can reheat the ginger-infused water as needed.
This compress can relieve congestion in organs and reduce inflammation in joints.
There are many health benefits to ginger. This versatile root is a culinary and medicinal staple in Eastern and Caribbean cultures. And it is something we all should consider having in our refrigerators and spice racks for enhancing our food and boosting or health. You can keep the root in the freezer for up to 3 months. It will not lose its nutritional qualities
Please feel free to let us know how you use ginger both in recipes and for medicinal purposes. We love it when our readers share their knowledge and experiences. We would also be happy to answer any questions you might have.