Ginger has so many wonderful uses that it is hard to know where to start. Used medicinally for thousands of years throughout the world, ginger is a very useful herb to be acquainted with. In Asian medicine ginger is so significant that it is found in half of all the herbal combinations. It is also a very common ingredient in Asian cuisine.
Ginger aids in digestion from beginning to end. It is known as a sialagogue which promotes the secretion of saliva and, thus, stimulates appetite. Ginger has traditionally been used for upset stomach and general stomach complaints, including nausea (see below). John Gerard, in the sixteenth century, said ginger was "… profitable for the stomach." It aids in the digestion of proteins due to its high content of protease, an enzyme that helps break down proteins.
The aromatic and carminative qualities of ginger also assist the digestive process. Ginger is fragrant and has an agreeable, although pungent taste. It stimulates the gastrointestinal mucous membranes, expels gas from the stomach and bowels, increases the tone of the musculature and stimulates peristalsis. It is often added to laxative formulas to prevent gripping.
Stomach and Nausea
Ginger is wonderful for most nausea conditions. It is a great relief for motion sickness, as recent studies have confirmed. Other studies have demonstrated ginger to be very helpful with morning sickness. A hot compress of ginger tea applied to the stomach will alleviate cramps. Both the compress and drinking the tea are beneficial for stomach flu.
Colds and Flu
For cold and flu season ginger can be quite helpful for many of winter’s effects on our health. Ginger is a diaphoretic in that it brings heat into the body, increases perspiration and stimulates the circulatory system. Hence, it is good for chills and colds. It also has cough suppressant qualities, soothes sore throats and relieves congestion and sinusitis. It has been used to help with bronchitis.
That’s Not All
Ginger has a multitude of traditional uses and research studies are attempting to understand more of what this herb can offer. It is a general stimulant, naturally supporting the body’s performance and energy. Ginger stimulates the circulatory system and affects vasoconstrictors and vasodilators. Studies have found ginger to lower cholesterol levels.
Arthritis and rheumatism have been traditionally helped by ginger.
Clinical usage in China has confirmed its benefits in treating rheumatic pain and lumbago.
Ginger tea can incite delayed menstruation and relieve menstrual cramps. It is great for muscular aches and makes a wonderful foot bath.
Further health benefits from ginger include it’s diuretic properties which help increase the flow of urine. It protects the liver and is beneficial for hemorrhoids.
Being both a medicinal and culinary herb, there are many ways to use ginger and make it a regular part of our lives. Ginger tea tastes great and is easy to make. Steep 1 to 2 teaspoons of granulated Jamaican ginger or grated fresh ginger in 2 cups of hot or boiling water. Try adding a few cloves or a dash of nutmeg. For relief of an upset stomach add _ teaspoon of ginger to 6 ounces of hot water.
Ginger tincture and encapsulated ginger are both convenient methods of ingestion and may be found in most health food stores.
The great culinary uses for ginger can be easily identified with Asian dishes, yet it is also found in many traditional western dishes. The digestive qualities of ginger help with heavier meals and, as mentioned, aid with protein breakdown.