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Benefit of ginger
12:36 PM | Author: Atie
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is an herb that is native to southeast Asia and has been used as a food additive for more than 4,000 years, and for medicinal purposes for more than 2,500 years. It is the "root" of the ginger plant (which is actually not a root, but a rhizome) that is most useful for medicine and for flavoring food. Compounds in the ginger rhizome, called oleoresins, have anti-inflammatory properties and are also known to have a positive effect on the muscles in the digestive tract. It has become well-known for its various health benefits including: its ability to boost bone health, aide digestion, enhance sexual activity, and relieve pains related to menstrual disorders, nausea, and flu.

Ginger, is inaccurately referred to as “ginger root”, although the edible section sold in the markets and used in dishes, is actually the stem or the rhizome. In Western culture, it is mostly used in sweets and alcoholic beverages such as: ginger beer and ginger wine. While in Asian cultures, it is directly used by chopping it up or using its powder in traditional dishes and in soft drinks such as coffee and tea. Ginger’s irresistible fragrance is due to an essential oil in its composition, coveted and extracted by perfumers since ancient times.

Not only is ginger known as an essence and spice, it is known to be one of the oldest remedies known to the herbal and aromatic traditions, especially in China, India, and the Middle East. In China, it has been used for over 2000 years for curing inflammation and diarrhea. A native to the Indo-Malaysia rain forests, ginger favors lush, moist, tropical soils for cultivation. Ginger’s perennial plant grows bright red flowers that come in different shapes such as: torch and honeycomb, and are often used in seasonal festivals in the South Pacific for decoration of stalls, houses, and even dresses.

Queen Elizabeth I of England, a fan of ginger herself, was the one to invent the gingerbread man in the 16th century- now loved by millions of children around the world. The gingerbread man was presented at a Royal ball, and several were made to resemble respected guests.

Today, ginger is on the FDA’s list of generally safe foods and is used to mask the taste of bitter medicines such as cough syrups. The various health benefits of ginger are given below:

  • Bone Health: Ginger is known to boost bone health and relieve joint pains. Two years ago, a study was conducted by the University of Miami, recruiting several hundred patients — from different backgrounds and ages — with osteoarthritis symptoms. The patients were then weaned away from anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications for cleansing purposes. The week after, they were split into two groups, one put on a placebo, and the other on ginger. After six weeks of intensive dosage, a survey was conducted among the two groups, both groups felt improvement, however; 63% of the ginger group felt a notable pain reduction, while only half of the placebo group recorded notable improvement. The last test was for the patients to walk the distance of 50 feet, which proved to be the lion’s share for the ginger group, since their results showed twice as much improvement than those on placebos.
  • Diarrhea: Ginger has been used since ancient times to cure diarrhea, and it was found by scientists that ginger indeed helps since it prevents stomach spasms and gases that contribute to and accentuate diarrhea. In China, ginger power has been given to those with diarrhea with success; scientists have concluded that the ancient ways are indeed beneficial in this case.
  • Digestion: Ginger has been discovered to be a facilitator to the digestion process. The elevated sugar levels after a meal may cause the stomach to lose its natural pace of emptying its contents. Ginger helps in regulating high sugar levels that may disrupt digestion and soothe the stomach, thus, maintaining its regular rhythm.
  • Sexual Activity: A known aphrodisiac, ginger has been used for years in arousing desire and enhancing sexual activity. Ginger’s scent has its unique allure that helps in establishing the connection. Not to mention, ginger also help to the blood circulation, hence blood flows more easily to the mid-section of the body.
  • Menstrual Cramps: Cramps are the body’s way of alarming an individual to danger or damage. In this case, prostaglandins — hormones that function as chemical messengers— are the key activators of symptoms such as: cramps, pains, and fevers. Scientists believe that high levels of prostaglandins contribute to the increased menstrual cramps. Ginger helps by reducing the levels of prostaglandins in the body, hence relieving the cramps.
  • Nausea: Studies have concluded that ginger helps in curing nausea connected with pregnancy, motion sickness and chemotherapy. Its quick absorption and rapid regulation of body functions cures nausea without the side effects of medication.
  • Flu: Ginger has been prescribed to fight inflammation for ages now. Its soothing effect, helps reducing the body’s alarm to the damaged cells in the body. While the white cells work on patching the cells, ginger acts a barrier to the high levels of prostaglandin that induce fever, headaches, and cramps.

Other health benefits of ginger currently under research are: reducing heart diseases, arthritis, migraine, depression, and curing stress-related anxiety disorders.

Ginger may, at times, have side effects for those suffering from gallstones since the herb incites the release of bile from the gallbladder. Therefore, it is advised if such a condition is suspected and to consult a doctor before consuming ginger.

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