Ginger – The Ultimate Anti Inflammatory
In recent times, Ginger has become known as much more than an added ingredient to a recipe. It is now upping the stakes as an anti inflammatory health benefit and helping to heal an infinite number of ailments from arthritis to diabetes. This simple herb and spice, grown in the ground, is inconspicuous yet bursting with possibilities. Why has Ginger become so intriguing?
What is Ginger?
Known as a ‘Rhizome’, Ginger is a broad stem, which grows underground, topped with green shoots. The Ginger plants can grow up to 3 feet high, with 2-5 segments of Ginger being produced. Once it has been broken off, the Ginger Root can then be washed and dried and used either as a delicious additive to food, or for medicinal purposes.
Ginger as Medicine
Originally popular in Southeast Asia, India and China have used Ginger in their medications for thousands of years and for good reason. It has become common knowledge that Ginger can ease nausea in pregnancy, as well as helping to alleviate cold and flu symptoms by boosting the immune system. As the number of diseases grow where Ginger can help to ease and soothe symptoms, modern Western science has backed its usefulness in aiding recovery and healing.
Active Compounds in Ginger
The medicinal properties of Ginger come from the therapeutic compounds, known as zingerone, shogaols, gingerols and volatile oils. These are where the unmistakable aroma and flavour comes from. The amount of therapeutic compounds in the Ginger, depends entirely upon the geography, time of harvest and methods of processing.
Why is Ginger the Ultimate Anti-Inflammatory?
Ginger has been found to work in a very similar way to NSAIDs (Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs). It seems to inhibit COX (Cyclooxygenase) and LOX (Lipooxygenase), which happens at the point of inflammation, calming the pain and soreness. Unlike NSAIDs, Ginger doesn’t appear to have any adverse affects on the kidneys or stomach.
Ginger has a wealth of benefits including:
- Improving digestive issues, soothing stomach cramps and helping with heartburn
- Treating high blood pressure and therefore relaxing the muscles, indicating that asthmatics could also benefit from taking Ginger
- Tumour growth in cancer is linked to inflammation and oxidative stress. Therefore, the anti inflammatory and anti-oxidative elements of Ginger could help to prevent the disease
- Migraines can be soothed with Ginger, in the same way that prescription medications ease the pain
- Destroying oral pathogens and H.pylori, due to its anti-bacterial properties
- Possibly lowering cholesterol in the way that modern medicines do
Fighting aging and skin discolouration, through its anti bacterial and anti inflammatory properties
Which Part of Ginger Should be Consumed?
Firstly, don’t buy the root if there are sprouts present. Choose the smooth, shiny-skinned knobs of Ginger to get the best quality. It can be stored, un-peeled, in a cool, dark area for weeks. Alternatively, peeled and sealed, it will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks.
Is Too Much Ginger Bad For You?
Only if you consume more than 4 grams in a day. It won’t cause any serious complications, but you will probably have diarrhoea and a tender stomach for a while.
Overall, the health benefits that could be achieved with this marvellous herb/spice appear to be endless. An all-round powerful tonic for the body and brain, Ginger could be helping those affected by Alzheimer’s and cancer, using the goodness of nature to support such conditions. From easing nausea and indigestion, to soothing painful joints and possibly lowering cholesterol levels, it’s a superfood and pain killer, without the side effects of pharmaceutical medications.