Health - Diet & Nutrition
By: - at August 5, 2013

The Essential Health Benefits of Ginger

Ginger is a spice that has been found to have several health benefits when consumed. Although it naturally is found in root form, ginger is also found dried, powdered, juiced, or as an oil. Ginger is widely used to treat a wide variety of stomach problems, but has other widespread health benefits, including the prevention of cancer. Ginger may easily be incorporated into the daily diet in the form of a nice cup of tea, or in its delicious candied form.

gingerGinger is officially known as zingiber officinale. It is the underground rhizome of a ginger plant, very similar to a root. Typically the ginger skin is a knotted, beige-colored stem, although the flesh of the ginger may be red, yellow, or white in color. Fresh, mature ginger may be found in the produce department of a grocery store. Other preparations of ginger may be found either at a grocery store or in a specialty spice store.

The ginger spice has been popular in Asia, the rootís native area, for over 4,400 years. During that time, the health benefits of the root were discovered. Since that time, the health benefits of ginger have spread through Asia and throughout the world. The incorporation of a small amount of ginger into a diet for its health benefits has now become a time honored tradition in many parts of the world.

Due to the fact that ginger contains volatile oils, gingerols, shogaols, and pungent phenol compounds, ginger is able to act as both a carminative and an intestinal spasmolytic. Essentially, ginger may be widely used to promote the elimination of intestinal gas and to relax and sooth the intestinal tract. However, the relief of gastrointestinal symptoms is just one of the many health benefits that the consumption of ginger may produce.

Nausea and Vomiting Relief
Ginger acts as a carminative and as an intestinal spasmolytic. This means that ginger may be used to relieve a wide variety of gastrointestinal problems, including nausea and vomiting. Since ginger largely acts in the stomach and the intestine, ginger may be used to treat motion sickness, pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting, nausea and vomiting after a surgery. It can help treat nausea associated with chemotherapy, as well as colic, gas, diarrhea, and an upset stomach.

Ginger has been widely proven to be effective in the relief of morning sickness. Due to gingerís anti-vomiting action, morning sickness may be effectively reduced in pregnant persons. Including ginger into the diet of a woman who is less than 20 weeks pregnant has been shown to decrease the frequency as well as the severity of nausea and vomiting attacks. Ginger is a natural alternative to over-the-counter anti-vomiting drugs, which may cause severe birth defects. Unlike chemical drugs, ginger offers a safer and more effective alternative to chemical drugs. However, it is important to discuss any health decisions with a doctor before implementation.

woman feeling sickGinger has also been shown to be effective in the relief of motion sickness. Unlike Dramamine, an over-the-counter solution to motion sickness that only relieves nausea and vomiting, ginger relieves nausea and vomiting, dizziness, and cold sweating that is typically associated with motion sickness. Ginger may be a better alternative to Dramamine for the relief of motion sickness.

Individuals who are undergoing chemotherapy, or who are suffering from nausea and vomiting after surgery may also find relief by taking ginger. Taking one gram of ginger before a surgery will reduce nausea after a surgery or reduce the need for additional medication for nausea and vomiting after surgery. Furthermore, chewing ginger after surgery helps prevent patients from vomiting. Similarly, consuming ginger during chemotherapy has been shown to reduce not only the duration, but also the severity, of nausea and vomiting that often occurs.

Osteoarthritis Relief
Ginger may also prove to be effective in reducing pain related to osteoarthritis. Individuals with osteoarthritis who ingested ginger extract twice a day needed fewer pain medication and had less pain. Taking ginger mixed with alpinia was shown to reduce pain when standing and after walking. Additionally, ginger mixed with alpinia also reduced stiffness.

woman with joint arthritis painGinger relieves pain associated with osteoarthritis due to its anti-inflammatory effects. Gingerols is a compound found in ginger that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. This compound is what allows ginger to effectively reduce pain and swelling in patients with osteoarthritis, or general muscle discomfort.

Ginger also is packed with other great compounds that may reduce pain and swelling associated with osteoarthritis. One compound, called 6-gingerol, creates free radical protection. Free radicals, such as peroxynitrite, may harm the body once they form within the body. Ginger, and one of its compounds 6-gingerol, have been shown to effectively reduce the amount of free radicals in the body and works to increase gingerís anti-inflammatory effects. Ginger also suppresses pro-inflammatory compounds such as cytokines and chemokine, which may account for joint inflammation and cause pain.

Cancer Prevention Benefits
The health benefits of ginger also include cancer prevention. Ginger has been shown to provide protection against colorectal cancer. Additionally, ginger may even be effective in fighting ovarian cancer, since ginger kills ovarian cancer cells. Ginger may even be able to prevent and fight prostate cancer. Amazing things from this very cool herb!

One of the main active ingredients within ginger, gingerols may prevent the growth of colorectal cancer cells in humans. It was found that 6-gingerol not only prevents the formation of colorectal cancer cells, acting as a chemopreventive, but also helped to reduce the size of pre-existing tumors. Ginger acts as a chemotherapeutic agent for the colorectal cancer cells.

Ginger has also been shown to be effective in fighting ovarian cancer. Gingerols, such as 6-gingerol, may kill ovarian cancer cells by inducing programmed cell death, known as apoptosis, and self-digestion of cancer cells, known as autophagocytosis.

It has been shown that ginger extract contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and even anti-tumor effects on cancer cells. When ovarian cancer cells were exposed to ginger extract that contained up to 5% of gingerol, cancer cell death occurred. Essentially, the compounds contained within the ginger extract killed the ovarian cancer cells.

cancerIt is believed that a contributing factor to the development of ovarian cancer in women is a pro-inflammatory state. When ginger is consumed, certain key indicators of inflammation, such as interleukin-8, prostaglandin E2, and vascular endothelial growth factor, were shown to decrease in the ovarian cancer cells. Although traditional chemotherapeutic agents may suppress these inflammatory markers, cancer cells may eventually become resistant to the drugs. Ginger is believed to be more beneficial than these traditional chemotherapeutic agents in fighting ovarian cancer because ovarian cancer cells that are exposed to ginger do not become resistant to its active agents. Therefore, it is recommended that women supplement their diets with an ounce of ginger a day, to help prevent ovarian cancer.

Ginger has recently been shown to be an effective combatant against prostate cancer. When prostate cancer cells were exposed to ginger extract, the cancer cells died, but the healthy prostate cells lived. After eight weeks of taking the ginger extract, the growth of the prostrate tumor was cut in half.

Ginger is able to combat prostate cancer due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiproliferative effects. Ginger inhibits growth and induces death in cancer cells by disrupting the cancer cell-cycle, impairing the reproduction of cancer cells, and by inducing programmed cell death. Furthermore, unlike chemical chemotherapeutic or chemopreventive agents, ginger has absolutely no toxicity. This makes ginger a potential, natural alternative to the harsher chemical chemotherapeutic agents that have been traditionally used.

Immune Boosting Benefits
For persons suffering from a cold or the flu, ginger may be beneficial. This is because ginger has been shown to boost the immune system. Ginger boosts the immune system by enabling something called healthy sweating. Sweat may assist in the detoxification process, but it has also been found that sweat, through containing a potent germ-fighting agent, may actually help to fight off infections. Dermicidin, a protein that the body produces in sweat glands, is transferred into sweat, and is brought to the skinís surface. There it provides protection against invasive germs and bacteria which may cause illnesses, such as the cold or flu.

Heart Disease Benefits
Ginger is so jam-packed with healthy nutrients and compounds that it may offer relief for a wide variety of other ailments. It has been found that ingesting ginger may lower cholesterol and even prevent blood clots from forming. This benefit is especially relevant for individuals suffering from heart disease. Heart disease often causes blood vessels to become blocked, which may eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke. By ingesting ginger, heart disease patients may see a natural health benefit in the form of lower cholesterol.

Sinus and Congestion Relief
sinus congestion sinus reliefDuring the cold and flu or allergy seasons, ginger may be an excellent plant to incorporate into daily dietary routines. Ginger has been found to relieve throat and nose congestion once ingested. This may help to bring relief during cold and flu season. Additionally, consuming ginger has been shown to help clear microcirculatory channels in the body. One of these microcirculatory channels that typically acts up during allergy season is the sinus. Consumption of ginger during allergy season may help to keep sinuses clear. Ginger has also been shown to relieve cough, including coughs associated with upper respiratory tract infections and bronchitis.

Benefits for Pain Relief
Ginger also provides health benefits in pain reduction. Women may consume ginger for relief from menstrual pain, as well as low back pain that is associated with menstruation. Ginger has been shown to reduce the severity and the symptoms of menstrual pain in most women when taken during menstruation. In these cases, ginger provides a natural health benefit that is just as effective as the chemical alternatives Ė ibuprofen or mefenamic acids.

However, ginger also has health benefits for relieving other types of pain as well. Ginger may be used to provide relief from muscle soreness, chest pain, stomach pain, and even lower back pain.

Additionally, oil that is made from ginger, or fresh ginger juice, may be used to treat burns or to relieve skin pain. Ginger may also be used to relieve numbness. By chewing dry ginger or applying a paste of ginger to the affected area, numbness is typically relieved by increasing blood flow. Furthermore, applying ginger oil to the skin helps to rejuvenate dry skin.

Diabetes Prevention and Treatment
self test for diabetesGinger has been shown to help manage glucose levels. This is a benefit to individuals with diabetes, as glucose levels have a direct impact on how an individual gains or loses weight. Furthermore, diabetes may be prevented or treated by consuming ginger, due to gingerís ability to lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood fats.

Ginger also helps to prevent the complications that are associated with diabetes. Ginger may decrease water intake and urine output, reverse proteinuria, and reduce urine protein levels. Furthermore, ginger helps to manage diabetes complications through aldose reductase inhibitors, which generally will reduce damages done to the body by diabetes.

Protection from Environmental Agents
Ginger has the ability to protect the body from the toxic effects of many substances, even radiation. For many harsh medications, such as the cancer drug lindane, ginger is able to lessen the harm that is done to the liver of the patient receiving the drug. For chemicals such as brombozene, ginger alleviates liver damage, and may even protect against nerve damage.

Furthermore, ginger protects the body against radiation. By consuming ginger, the taste distortion and vomiting that usually accompanies radiation poisoning may be prevented. Additionally, consuming ginger may reduce the severity of symptoms, and mortality that may accompany exposure to radiation. This benefit occurs due to gingerís ability to block gastrointestinal and bone-marrow related deaths in persons who have been exposed to radiation.

Antibiotics and Antifungals Benefits
In some cases, ginger has even been shown to act in the stead of an antibiotic. In instances dealing with staphylococcus aureus or S. pyreus, when ginger was compared against antibiotics for treatment, ginger was found to be the superior treatment method. Furthermore, ginger acts as an antibiotic for respiratory and periodontal infections.

Ginger also acts as an antifungal in some circumstances. Some of the most difficult infections to treat are fungal infections. Ginger, however, has antifungal capabilities, even against drug-resistant forms of antifungal infections. The ability of ginger to tackle fungal infections is promising in pharmaceutical development.

Alzheimerís Disease Prevention
alzheimers patient For individuals who are at risk for Alzheimerís disease, ginger may be the solution. Recently, ginger has been shown to provide protection against Alzheimerís. Due to gingerís ability to dramatically reduce the loss of brain cells, ginger may prove to be an effective prevention method to Alzheimerís. Through gingerís ability to protect and preserve brain cells that are typically lost as a precursor to Alzheimerís disease, the number of good years a person at-risk for or suffering from Alzheimerís increases.

Other Gastrointestinal Benefits
Aside from nausea and vomiting, ginger also provides several other health benefits for gastrointestinal relief. Since ginger works primarily in the intestinal tracts, several health benefits may be gained from ginger. For individuals suffering from loss of appetite, eating fresh ginger has been shown to increase digestive juices and increase appetite. Individuals who suffer from excessive flatulence may also find relief from ingesting ginger. Furthermore, consumption of ginger also gives the body a healthy boost. After ginger was consumed, it was shown that the absorption of essential vitamins and nutrients within the body was increased. Ginger essentially increases the effectiveness of all food that is consumed.

Individuals who are more prone to intestinal ulcers may also benefit from ginger. Consuming ginger prevents the formation of ulcers and helps to relieve the symptoms of ulcers that already exist. Ginger also may have certain aphrodisiac properties. Individuals who might need some help in this area may eat ginger to feel some relief.

Varieties of Ginger
Ginger comes in a wide variety of forms. While fresh ginger possibly provides the most concentrated health benefits, any variety of ginger may provide the health benefits previously described. The most widely available form of ginger found in super markets is fresh mature ginger. When purchasing fresh ginger, it is important to make sure that the ginger is firm and free of mold. Fresh mature ginger should have the skin removed with a paring knife, although young ginger does not require peeling. Fresh ginger may be stored, unpeeled, in the refrigerator for around three weeks. In the freezer, unpeeled, fresh mature ginger may be stored for up to six months.

varieties of gingerGinger also comes in a wide variety of other forms. Dried ginger powder, which may be located at a supermarket or a local spice store, should be kept in a cool and dry place, or in the refrigerator. Dried ginger powder, when stored in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed, glass container may have a shelf life of up to one year. Ginger is also available as a dried root, as oil, and as ginger extracts in the form of oils, capsules, and tinctures.

Treatment Recommendations
Generally, ginger should be consumed in levels of 1 gram daily. While children may consume ginger, it is best not to administer ginger to children less than 2 years of age. One gram of ginger may relieve nausea, gas, and indigestion. Pregnant women wishing to relieve morning sickness may consume between 650 mg and 1 g a day of ginger. Persons with arthritis pain may find relief by consuming 250 mg of ginger up to four times a day.

Ginger has a wide variety of preparation methods you can use to achieve maximum health benefits. Among the popular methods of ginger consumption is ginger tea. In order to relieve nausea, ginger tea may be made by steeping 2/3 to 1 ounce of sliced ginger in a cup of hot water. Honey, cinnamon, and oranges are popular additions to ginger tea. Ginger also comes in a candied form. Consuming ginger prepared this way, or eating ginger with a little bit of honey, may improve motion sickness, airsickness, and menstrual pain. In addition, dried, ground ginger may be added to any meal to gain gingerís aphrodisiac effects.

ginger tea with lemonIndividuals seeking relief from arthritis should consume 1/3 ounce of ginger in cooked food for relief, although up to 1 gram may be consumed for maximum effectiveness. In addition, adding ginger oil to a warm bath will sooth aching joints and muscles.

Ginger also provides pain relief from menstrual cramps, as well as a wide variety of other types of pain. Ginger has been shown to provide a natural, less harsh alternative to normal chemotherapeutic or chemoprevtantative measure, since ginger does not kill healthy cells, only cancerous ones. Ginger also prevents colorectal, prostate, and ovarian cancer. Ginger has even been shown to kill cancerous tissues in persons with ovarian and prostate cancers.

Ginger can also boost the immune system, aiding in recovery from the cold and flu. It provides a variety of other health benefits, including clearing the sinuses, to help an individual to stay healthy during cold, flu, and allergy seasons. Ginger may also be used for patients with heart disease to lower cholesterol and prevent blood clots.

Ginger is widely available at super markets and local grocery stores. By simply incorporating one gram or less of ginger into a daily diet, all of the previously listed health benefits may be gained.





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