Remember our moms reaching for the Ginger Ale when we were not feeling our best or feeling particularly nauseated? While the sugar in the commercial drink was not the best option, Mom knew best when it came to the ginger part.
Most of us are familiar with Ginger and the culinary possibilities this herb spice offers–its pungent flavor adding flair to our recipes; But the flavor is not the only benefit of this flowering plant. There are many medicinal properties in Ginger as well.
Originating from Asia, this plant was brought to American in the 15th and 16th centuries through the Spanish. It is now cultivated in tropical regions of the United States. It is a flowering plant, but only the rhizome, or underground part of the stem, is used for medicinal purposes. Being in the same family as turmeric, it carries similar health benefits:
One of the main bioactive compounds in ginger is gingerol and is responsible for the smell, flavor, and health benefits in the plant. Like its sister plant, turmeric, ginger is especially useful in cases of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and colitis. A study in 2011 found that a combination of ginger, cinnamon, and sesame oil applied topically helped reduce pain and stiffness in people with Osteoarthritis. Ingesting ginger as a tea or in capsules enhances this effect by lowering systemic inflammation.
Antioxidants are molecules in the body that fight free radicals. Free radicals are compounds that are constantly being formed in the body. They serve a positive function that is important to health such as helping immune cells fight infection.
However, if levels of free radicals become too high, they can lead to a state of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been connected to health issues such as heart disease and cancer. Oxidative stress also increases the aging process and, along with inflammation, is one of the key causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Gingerol in ginger has been found to have antioxidant properties—those important properties that help keep oxidative stress in check.
Ginger can also help lower the risk of bacterial infections, with a special affinity against oral bacteria linked to gum diseases. Small intestinal bowel overgrowth or SIBO is another condition that ginger can be used as an alternative.
Ginger is highly effective for taming nausea. Studies have shown ginger to be effective against nausea connected to motion sickness without the drowsiness that can occur when using over the counter medications; making it a safer option when needed for traveling. Studies have also been shown that ginger may help with morning sickness. While ginger is safe, as with any supplement use during pregnancy, always check with a qualified practitioner before use.
As of November 2019, 60 million Americans were believed to suffer from indigestion, causing recurrent pain and discomfort. Many pharmaceuticals prescribed for chronic indigestion have now been found to cause certain cancers.
Certainly not a desirable side effect when trying to alleviate discomfort. Ginger is a natural alternative in relieving indigestion. It is believed that one key trait of indigestion is a slower emptying of the stomach. Ginger enhances digestion, by increasing digestive secretion. By enhancing digestion, it is possible that the stomach empties sooner, reducing indigestion.
Platelet aggregation is the clumping together of blood platelets that can create blood clots or thrombosis. Blood clots can be life-threatening. Gingerol in ginger has been known to help prevent platelet aggregation and increase blood circulation. It has also been known to help support the heart and pumping action.
With so many medicinal properties and delicious flavor, it is easy to see why so many natural health practitioners consider ginger to be one of the best spices to have on hand. Here at The HealthPatch, we carry ginger teas, capsules, and bulk ginger in crystals and powder. We are happy to help you find the best for you.
How about a healthy Ginger Ale? Here is a recipe from Katrin Nurnberger of Sugar-Free Londoner using a sugar alternative, making it a healthier option.
Sugar Free Homemade Ginger Ale (makes 2 cups)
Ingredients 6 cm of ginger root peeled and grated Juice of ½ of a lemon 1 TBSP of powdered sweetener like Lakanto Monk fruit 2 cups of carbonated water
Instructions Peel and grate the ginger. Place it in a muslin or cheesecloth and squeeze until you have around 1 tablespoon of liquid ginger juice. In a jug, mix ginger juice, lemon juice and carbonated water. Stir in sweetener to taste.
Enjoy the taste and health benefits!
Health And Blessings,
Kim Anderson, ND