Ginger

(zingiber officinalis)

Ginger is one of the greatest of all natural medicines, used by Chinese doctors since 1,000BC and popular with European herbalists since the Middle Ages. It is a perennial plant that grows throughout China, Asia, the tropics and South America. The root is used both as a spice in food and in medicine.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has recommended ginger for abdominal bloating, coughing, vomiting, diarrhoea, and rheumatism. Ginger is commonly used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine for the treatment of inflammatory joint diseases, such as arthritis and rheumatism.

What it does

Ginger contains powerful, active volatile oils which provide both its distinctive taste and smell as well as medicinal benefits. Zingiberene, zingerone, boreal, bisabolene, gingerols and shogaols are the most important compounds and are responsible for anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, pain relieving, anti-nausea and anti-vomiting effects.

Ginger is classified as an aromatic bitter, so in addition to it’s digestive toning properties, ginger has been traditionally used for stimulating the release of gastric secretions including stomach acid, bile and pancreatic enzymes. Ginger also contains proteases that are thought to be as effective as other proteolytic extracts (e.g. bromelain) for the breakdown of proteins.

Potential Uses

Indigestion Gas Abdominal bloating
Poor digestion of protein Cholesterol IBS
Nausea Vomiting Low Stomach Acid
Osteoarthritis Atherosclerosis Rheumatoid arthritis

Other information

Ginger has the ability to simultaneously improve gastric motility and exert antispasmodic effects on smooth muscle of the digestive tract, suggesting a significant potential in relieving indigestion, gas, bloating and the general symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Research suggests that compounds within ginger may be helpful in preventing ulcer formation caused by the administration of various drugs including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. However, pre-existing ulcers may be aggravated by ginger due to its bitter characteristics (which stimulate stomach acid activity).

Ginger has been shown to reduce serum and hepatic cholesterol levels and increase bile secretion.

Cautions

Not recommended in patients with pre-existing gastric (stomach or duodenal) ulcers, unless directed by a medical practitioner.

Gallstone sufferers should talk to their doctor before using ginger.

Ginger can be used for morning sickness at the beginning of pregnancy but is best not taken throughout the pregnancy.

Ginger should be avoided if you take blood thinning medications such ar warfarin or heparin.

At the time of writing there were no well known negative drug interactions with ginger.

 

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