Ginger: A Medicinal Herb With Benefits

By: Archana Mukherji
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Come monsoon or winters, we have all fancied a freshly brewed cup of 'adrak wali chai' (ginger tea). It is of no wonder, this pungent gem adorns your spice shelf in the kitchen.

Widely available in the market throughout the year, Ginger is one of the most commonly used spices in the world today. It has carminative properties, making it the ideal condiment for treating various health conditions.

Ginger is a flowering plant that is known to have originated in China. It belongs to the Zingiberaeae family. The rhizome (underground part of the stem) is used as a spice, better known as ginger root, or simply ginger. It belongs to the plant family that includes turmeric (haldi), cardamom (elaichi) and galangal.

This delightfully fragrant spice fights cramps, soothes sore muscles, reduces inflammation, combats nausea, prevents ulcers, aids digestion and calms cranky winter skin.

For over centuries, Romans, Indians and Chinese have used ginger extensively to cure a host of ailments.

Ginger has been linked to countless health benefits, including cutting down the risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, while also nourishing the hair and promoting healthy skin.

Interestingly, in the first century AD, ginger made its way into Europe through the lucrative spice trade.

ginger

Amazing Health Benefits Of Ginger:

Well, we cannot stop raving about this spicy fellow and here is why you should include it in your daily diet.

Combats Indigestion And Nausea:

Are you a momma-to-be and having painful episodes of dealing with acute stomach pain or morning sickness? Ginger can come to your rescue to ease digestive troubles by relaxing the smooth muscle in the lining of your gut, which helps move food along the system.

Now, you know why our Grandmas spread the gospel of downing that ginger ale before you head out to play. It is extremely effective against bloating, flatulence, constipation, and gastrointestinal problems.

Its quick absorption and rapid regulation of body functions cure nausea without any side effects. If rocky flights and long car journeys make your stomach churn, nibble on a piece of crystallized or pickled ginger.

Next time your tummy starts growling like a dying whale and you cannot help but writhe in pain, reach out for a glass of freshly-made ginger juice.

Recipe 1: 2 tablespoons of ginger extract/juice, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, a pinch of rock salt, a glass of water, stir the mixture thoroughly and consume it immediately.

Refreshing, isn't it? If you find the taste of ginger too piquant for your 'tastes', why not treat yourself to some Ginger candies?

Recipe 2: Dip the fresh and thick ginger slices into honey, add a little butter and cook it for 3-5 minutes on low heat, allow it to cool and harden for about 30-40 minutes. And you are ready to pop one! Have one daily.

Reduces Muscle Pain And Soreness:

No more oohs and aahs after those grueling and sweat-burning workout sessions. Ginger's warming essential oil improves circulation and blood flow, making it an ace at relieving tired muscles.

Due to its inflammatory properties, ginger is considered to be the best natural painkiller. Try this relaxing soak:

Recipe: Grate 4 tablespoons of fresh ginger and seal it in a cotton bag; place the bag under running bathwater. Dab it on achy areas.

Menstrual Cramps Reliever:

Got excruciating period pains? Try ginger tea! Dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain) is a common occurrence for millions of women across the world.

Studies indicate that due to its anti-spasmodic characteristics, ginger acts as a natural pain reliever for relieving painful period camps.

Recipe: Just steep 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger root in water for 15 minutes, strain, and enjoy it with honey or lemon. You deserve to be pampered well, ladies :) !

Cures Migraine/Headaches:

If you are prone to splitting headaches often, ginger is your go-to ingredient. Owing to its excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, ginger works very well in alleviating pain.

Migraine headaches are mostly caused due to inflammation of blood vessels in the brain.

Ginger contains the compound called capsaicin, which is known to relieve pain, and gingerols act on pain receptors, thus reducing pain altogether.

Recipe: Cut fresh ginger into small pieces and sprinkle salt on it. Chew them slowly.

grated ginger

Fights the Dreaded 'C' - Cancer:

Cancer is a very serious ailment that is characterized by uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. Ginger extract has been considered as an alternative treatment for several forms of cancer, especially ovarian cancer.

It is effective in nullifying cancerous cells, which is better than chemotherapy drugs. The anti-cancer properties are attributed to 6-gingerol, a substance largely found in large amounts of raw ginger.

Consuming ginger helps lessen inflammation of the colon and the intestines, thereby lowering the risk of colon cancer.

Helps Control Diabetes And Reduces Cholesterol Levels:

High levels of LDL cholesterol puts you at a greater risk of heart stroke and cardiovascular diseases.

Ginger can help lower the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and also that of triglycerides in the blood, thereby reducing the risk of heart troubles.

Regular ginger use has been associated with lowered risk of heart disease and stroke, making it another superfood.

Ginger, garlic and onions have all been known to possess anti-blood-clotting ability, which makes them a must-have in your daily dietary intake.

Gingerols, the powerful compounds present in ginger, are considered to be a natural cure in preventing and reversing diabetes, by enhancing insulin stimulity.

Recipe: Take 1 tablespoon of sliced ginger and put it in two cups of boiling water for ten minutes. After pouring, add a few drops of honey (or sugar-free substitute as advised by the physician) and drink it at least 2 or 3 times in a day.

Say Bye To Bacterial Infections:

Bioactive substance present in fresh ginger significantly lowers the risk of bacterial infections. It is very effective against oral bacteria linked to gum-inflammatory diseases, such as gingivitis and periodontitis.

Ginger has powerful anti-bacterial properties. If you are visiting a hospital for a surgery, or just visiting someone who is ailing, it is best to carry some ginger essential oil in water and drink it, to guard yourself from contracting any infections.

Fungal infections are notoriously resistant to conventional medicine; but they don't have a fighting chance against ginger. Include ginger in your meals regularly to stave off fungal infections of any kind.

Recipe: Prepare a quick ginger unguent by mixing together a few drops of pure ginger essential oil with tea tree oil and a tsp of coconut oil. Apply on the affected areas.

Immunity Booster:

Ginger helps boost the immune system, and is very effective in keeping the body warm and fighting cold extremities, which in turn breaks down toxin accumulation in the body.

It also cleanses the lymphatic system, which is simply our body's 'sewage system'. Accumulation of toxins for prolonged periods make you susceptible to all kinds of infections, especially related to respiratory function.

Treat Ulcers and GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease):

Ginger is the best cure for stomach ulcers and GERD because it is more potent than the synthetic drug prescribed to treat these conditions.

Recipe: Eating 1 gram of freshly peeled ginger per day and it can relieve stomach ache and even gastric problems.

Additionally, it has been known to benefit other inflammation-related complaints like diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

A combination of ginger, cinnamon and sesame oil can reduce pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis patients when applied topically.

Beat the Cold and Coughing Blues:

Ginger has a warming effect on the body. It does wonders to tired and sore feet.

Recipe: If the cold winter has you 'under the weather', take a teaspoon of raw organic honey and add crushed or grated ginger and a smidgen of black pepper. Stir well and drink this 2 to 3 times a day for instant relief.

ginger

How to Use Ginger:

It is remarkably simple to use this. Savour it fresh, dried, or powdered. Fresh ginger can be used to flavour foods and drinks naturally for a zesty punch.

The distinctive aroma and flavour of ginger is derived from its natural oils. Gingerol, the main bioactive compound in ginger, is treasured for its medicinal benefits and therapeutic qualities.

It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

Best Ways To Consume Ginger:

• Raw ginger: Fresh ginger juice can be prepared in a blender with peeled, chopped ginger root and water. Ginger can be applied to sore muscles after exercise as an oil, paste or compress.

Grated ginger root can be sprinkled over breakfast cereal, simmered with hot water and honey for a homemade tea or mixed with safflower oil for a healthy salad dressing.

• Ginger tea: Most commonly used to get relief from nausea, fix an upset stomach, and relax the body. Drinking a cup of ginger tea twice or thrice a day helps reduce inflammation.

To make it more appetizing, you can even add honey and lemon juice.

• Ginger powder: Dried and ground ginger powder is used in cooking as a spice. Use it 'gingerly' to spice up your dishes and natural drinks.

• Ginger essential oil: The most potent form of ginger, as it contains high levels of gingerol, is the oil obtained from it. It can either be ingested with water, or dabbed topically with a carrier oil on the affected areas.

Note: 2-3 drops of ginger essential oil is recommended, not more than that.

ginger

Side Effects of Ginger:

Though side effects are rare, ginger may cause an upset stomach, diarrhoea, gas or heartburn, especially if taken in doses that exceed the recommended amounts.

Consult a medical practitioner before adding ginger supplements to your diet, especially if you take aspirin or other blood-thinning medications regularly.

Daily intake of ginger should not exceed 4 grams, including dietary sources like drinks, salad dressings or desserts.

Ginger: How To Use It For Cough

Are you exhausted by the fits of cough that linger on even after your cold has gone? Before you head on to the pharmacy, there are a few natural cough remedies that you must try.

Pop in a ginger candy, for instance. There cannot be a simpler and tastier cure to that nagging cough than this.

Ginger is one among the most effective natural cures for cough. Its therapeutic use dates back to thousands of years, among Indians and Chinese.

From being used for culinary reasons and its warm, rich aroma, Zingiber officinale, as it is known in the scientific community, can cure a range of diseases like nausea, gastrointestinal problems, etc.

Coughing is the body's mechanism of clearing large air passage pathways from secretions, irritants or foreign particles.

Many a times, cough is caused due to the upper respiratory tract infections like bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, flu or pertussis. Mostly, it accompanies a common cold.

This is where ginger can help. The rhizome, the horizontal stem from which roots grow, is the portion that is consumed.

The major elements like gingerol, zingerone, and shogaol are responsible for its rich aroma and medicinal effects.

The properties they lend to ginger makes it a good bet for curing sore throats and cough.

Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. It can reduce congestion, soothe the throat, give oesophagus a coating to prevent itchiness and thus reduce the urge to cough.

It also has antimicrobial properties and can ward off bacteria and viruses. It is an immunity booster as well and thus helps in keeping infections at bay.

Ginger recipes for cough:

  • Grate a piece of ginger into a glass of water. Put it to boil. Squeeze half a lemon into it. Pour a tablespoon of honey and relish the warm ginger tea.
  • Chew fresh ginger on and off throughout the day. Add a pinch of salt if you wish to modify the taste.
  • Crush around 10 tulsi leaves. Grate, crush and extract the juice out of a small piece of ginger. Mix it with honey and swallow the mixture thrice a day.
  • Boil a cup of water with fine pieces of ginger in it. Reduce it to half the quantity. Strain the liquid, add honey and drink it.
  • Mix ginger juice, turmeric, honey and a pinch of pepper powder. Have it thrice a day.
  • Blend ginger, pineapple, cayenne pepper and the juice of 1 lemon. Strain the juice, add honey and take one tablespoon of this thrice in a day.
  • Slice ginger into water. Boil it in a vessel, so that you can inhale the fumes coming out of it. It will soothe the sore throat issue effectively.
  • Make a ginger ale by boiling two glasses of water, one and a half cups of ginger juliennes, and three-fourth cup of sugar. When it is reduced to half the amount, take it off the stove and later refrigerate it. Mix it with some water and lemon before consuming it.
  • Boil water, a handful of thyme and ginger; and reduce it to half the amount. In a jar, slice lemons and add honey to it. Pour the boiled liquid into the jar and consume it thrice a day.
  • It is one of the ingredients in Trikatu rasayana in Ayurveda, which is recommended for cough, cold, fever and asthma.
  • Stomach bloating can be annoying and it makes you uncomfortable. You feel as if your tummy is stretched and gives you that swollen feeling. This kind of bloated stomach is actually caused due to excess build up of gas in the intestinal track.

Ginger To Relieve Stomach Bloating

So how do you get rid of this problem? For condition like this home remedies are always the best. Ginger is one of the most commonly used spice that helps in providing quick relief from stomach bloating.

It is the gingerol compound and the zingibain enzyme contained in ginger, that actually helps to soothe the intestinal tract and reduce stomach bloating and gas formation.

So, here are few of the effective ways to use ginger for stomach bloating. Check them out.

Ginger Chews - Recipe 1:

Take a small piece of ginger and then remove the peel.

Chew this slowly.

Try to suck the ginger juice and gulp it with water. feel

Have this on a daily basis until the symptoms subsides.

Ginger Tea - Recipe 2:

Take a small piece of ginger and then remove the peel.

Chop the ginger into small pieces and put it in a cup.tinal tract

Pour hot water on it.

Allow it to steep for about 5-7 minutes.

Strain it and then drink.

Ginger With Lemon - Recipe 3:

Take one fresh lemon, cut it into two halves and then squeeze the lemon juice.

Take one glass of warm water.

Add the lemon juice and one tablespoon of ginger juice in the glass.

Stir it well and then drink it regularly in the morning.

Ginger & Honey Tea - Recipe 4:

Take a piece of ginger and then crush it.

Take a glass of water and then boil it.

Add the crushed ginger piece to the boiling water and put it in simmer for few minutes.

Once done, strain it in a glass, add a teaspoon of honey to it.

Mix it well and then drink this twice a day.

Ginger & Fennel Tea - Recipe 5:

Take a glass of boiling hot water.

Add a teaspoon of fennel seeds and few slices of ginger.

Allow it to steep for 2-3 hours.

Strain it and then drink this 1-2 times a day for quick relief from stomach bloating.

Ginger For Back Pain

Back pain has been a rising health concern among the midlde age adults especially the working group of people. So if you are one of the victims then here is one of the best natural solutions.

Ginger is not just a spice but it is known for its innumerable health benefits. Among all the other benefits, ginger is known for provide relief from back pain.

It is basically the gingerols and the shagols present in ginger that helps in relaxing the muscles by improving the blood circulation. In addition to this, the selenium contained in ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. All these ingredients contained in ginger aids in back pain relief.

Ginger Compress:

Take a small piece of ginger.

Grate the ginger and put it in a clean cotton cloth.

Tie the cloth and immerse this in hot water for seconds.

Allow it to cool and then place this compress on the affected area for few minutes.

Repeat this for 2-3 times a day.

2. Ginger & Turmeric Tea:

Take a piece of ginger and turmeric roots.

Grate both the ingredients. Add these to a pan containing a glass of of water

Boil all the ingredients and leave it in sim for about 5 minutes.

Strain it and add a bit of honey.

Drink this tea on a daily basis.

3. Ginger & Tulsi Tea:

Take a glass of water and boil it.

Add about 10 fresh tulsi leaves and small piece of ginger.

Allow it to steep for few minutes.

Strain it and then drink it in the form of tea on a daily basis.

4. Ginger & Honey Tea:

Take small piece of ginger and chop it into small slices.

Add it to a pan along with a glass of water and then boil it for few minutes.

Strain the water and allow it to cool till it turns lukewarm.

Add one teaspoon of honey and mix it well.

Drink this ginger honey tea everyday.

5. Ginger & Epsom Salt:

Boil one pan of water

Add few small piece if ginger and a handful of epsom salt and allow it to boil for few minutes.

Soak a clean cotton cloth in the pan.

Squeeze the water and dab the cloth on the affected area.

Leave it for a while until you feel that the cloth has cooled.

Do this twice a day for best results.

Ginger For Motion Sickness

Motion sickness is something that few of us do have. Due to the fear of motion sickness many people avoid travelling.

Well if you are one among this group this then ginger is likely to be your best friend. The gingerols along with shogoals are two of the best ingredients in ginger that helps to inhibit the chemoreceptor trigger zone that can cause nausea, vomiting and motion sickness.

These ingredients in ginger helps to slow down the intestinal spasms in the digestive system and thus helps in lowering the motion sickness.

In addition to this, ginger also helps in reducing the damage caused by free radicals and helps in removing the products that are produced during the oxidative processes in the intestine which is one of the major cause for motion sickness.

Ginger is one of the best ingredients that helps to deal with motion sickness.

Here are few of the best ways to use ginger for motion sickness.

1.Ginger Tea:

Take a glass of hot boiling water.

Add few pieces of ginger to it and close it using a lid.

Allow it to steep for about 10 minutes.

Strain it and then drink it in the form of tea before you begin your journey.

Also you could allow it to cool, add lemon juice and drink it while you are travel.

Ginger Juice:

Take one ginger about three inches long.

Chop the ginger into smaller pieces.

Put this into a mixer and then blend it well.

The extracted juice can be stored in a refrigerator.

Take one teaspoon of this juice, mix it with a glass of lukewarm water and drink it before you beging your journey.

For those of you who do not like the ginger taste, they can add one teaspoon of lemon juice to it.

3. Ginger Powder:

Take half a teaspoon of ginger powder and add it to a glass of water.

Stir it well and drink this half an hour before you start your travel.

Is it safe for pregnant women to use ginger for motion sickness?

Ginger is one of the best known natural ingredients that helps in treating a number of ailments. But at the same time there are also a few group of people who should be careful about consuming ginger.

Ginger helps combat motion sickness, but consuming excess ginger for pregnant

Ginger For Food Poisoning

Food poisoning can be caused due to different reasons. However, the major cause for food poisoning are contaminated foods and drinks.

Every year with the onset of monsoon, the number of food poisoning cases rise and becomes rampant. Hospitals and every other small clinics too witness a rise in the number of food poisoning cases.

In order to deal with such food poisoning cases there are certain home remedies that actually help. Ginger is one of the best natural ingredients that aids in easing food poisoning quickly.

Few of the best ways to use ginger for treating food poisoning are discussed here.

Ginger Chews:

Take a fresh piece of ginger and cut one slice from it.

Take this in your mouth and keep chewing it.

You can also take ginger candy instead of fresh ginger piece.

Ginger Tea For Food Poisoning:

Take about one teaspoon of freshly grinded ginger paste.

Add the paste and a bit of honey to your tea.

Drink this ginger tea after your lunch and dinner.

Ginger & Honey:

Take about one teaspoon of freshly grinded ginger paste.

Mix it with one teaspoon of honey and consume it after your meals.

Do this at least twice a day.

How to Use Ginger For Irregular Periods

The moment a female attains her puberty, menstruation becomes and inevitable part till the time she reaches her menopause. Having periods at regular cycle is a must. Irregular periods can be a sign of certain health issues especially related to the hormones.

Natural ingredients like ginger helps in easing irregular periods problem.

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