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Ginger Root's Medicinal Value

Aug 3, 2008
Ginger is one of the most widely used herbs in the world. We use the root of a plant native to Asia but today cultivated in the West Indies, Jamaica, and Africa. Francisco de Mendosa introduced ginger to Spain in the early 1500's (and from there to the new world) but its value was known in the far east long before that.

Ginger powder comes from a perennial tuber type root (like a potato) that creeps and grows underground. The stalk has narrow leaves and grows to be about two feet tall. In the fall the tuber is harvested, dried, and ground into the herb powder. Black or coated ginger means the root was immediately scalded (not peeled) after harvesting. White or uncoated ginger was washed and scraped to prevent sprouting. To whiten it even more, white ginger is at times bleached or limed but this process robs it of some of its value.

Chemicals in ginger that give it value include volatile oil (up to 3%), acrid soft resin, lignin, gum, starch, vegeto matter, asmazone, acetic acid, potassium acetate, and sulphur.

Ginger will stimulate appetite, fight body odor, and promote perspiration. It is best known as a traditional Asian medicine to treat nausea. It has relieved morning sickness as well as the nausea related to chemotherapy. Some say ginger is more effective in relieving motion sickness than Dramamine.

Ginger also helps treat joint pain by stimulating blood circulation, so it is used to treat illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and Raynaud?s syndrome. Externally ginger causes redness of the skin.

Ginger relieves gastrointestinal distress and is often used to treat flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, and menstrual cramps. It works by mimicking certain digestive enzymes the body uses to process protein in the body.

Ginger aids the heart as well. Only five grams of dried ginger a day will slow the production of triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol in the liver. Ginger also prevents platelets from sticking together. This decreases the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Ginger is sometimes recommended for relief of cold symptoms for it is said to loosen phlegm and fight chills by spreading a warm feeling throughout the body. Many simply like to use it in cooking as a seasoning or a tea. One recipe for gingersnap cookies calls for a teaspoon of the powder.

Ginger is of course available as a powder and root. It may also be purchased in capsules, extracts, pickles, and prepared teas. If you purchase ginger raw, be sure to avoid small, wrinkled, or soft tubers. The tea is made by steeping the powder in hot water. You can sprinkle it on food for flavoring as well. Normally limit the intake to an ounce of powder every three days. Preserved Ginger results from steeping the root in hot syrup. Ginger can be stored dry in your refrigerator for short periods or frozen as a root for up to three months.

A few cautions are in order. Since ginger helps thin the blood, don?t take it prior to surgery. Ginger may interfere with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and dietary iron, and may actually cause an upset stomach if too much is taken. Those taking blood thinners, barbiturates, beta-blockers, insulin or diabetes medications should consult their doctor about ginger since it could conflict with these medicines. Ginger may stimulate uterine contractions so pregnant women should be careful how much ginger they ingest.
About the Author
But there are several more benefits of ginger to be explored. Visit More Than Alive, an internet store for bulk herbs and a trusted resource where you can get cut ginger root and learn about many other herbs.
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