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Ginger Root

Overview

Ginger root is widely used culinary spice with a long tradition of medicinal uses. In traditional Chinese medicine, teas and tinctures made with ginger root are used to alleviate the symptoms of nausea and treat stomach upset, diarrhea and other digestive upsets for over 2000 years.  Gin-

ger root has also been used to relieve menstrual cramps, and treat arthritis and colic. It’s widely believed that ginger root may relieve the symptoms of the common cold, flu and headaches.

 

Ginger root is available fresh or dried, and may be used in tinctures, teas, capsules or tablets.  Ginger root is the base for ginger ale, which has been recommended to soothe digestive upsets and relieve nausea and diarrhea by pediatricians for decades.

 

What Ginger Root Does:

The key active ingredients in ginger are volatile oils, specifically gingerols and shogoals that are responsible for the pungent, spicy taste.  Ginger root relieves nausea and cramping by neutralizing stomach acids and stimulating the production of digestive juices.  Ginger root also seems to have an anti-inflammatory effect, which may account for its effectiveness in relieving digestive irritation. When ginger is taken as a standardized extract, it lowers the body’s production of prostaglandins, which may relieve chronic pain. In addition, ginger root is a natural decongestant and antihistamine, and is often included in herbal cold and cough preparations.

 

Health Benefits of Ginger Root:

Research supports a number of the most common uses for ginger root, specifically:

 

-         Relieves nausea

Ginger root’s anti-nausea properties are the most well documented.  It has been tested for effectiveness against nausea caused by:

Motion Sickness

In one clinical trial, researchers gave powdered ginger root to half a group of novice sailors who reported being prone to motion sickness.  The other half were given a placebo.  The group who took ginger root reported significantly less nausea and cold sweats than the placebo group.  While medications like scopolamine seem to be more effective at reducing nausea than ginger root, they also carry far more serious side effects, making ginger root a safe, natural choice to relieve motion sickness.

Pregnancy and Morning Sickness

In at least two research studies, fresh ginger root proved to be more effective than a placebo in relieving pregnancy related nausea and morning sickness.  Doctors recommend that ginger root only be taken for the first two months of pregnancy, and that only fresh ginger be used.

Nausea Following Surgery

Several studies have shown that ginger root is more effective at reducing nausea in the days following surgery than a placebo, but the results are not completely conclusive.

Nausea Related To Chemotherapy

In their guidelines for using complementary and alternative medicines, the American Cancer Society cites a study from India in which ginger root extract increased the effectiveness of a common drug given to soothe nausea caused by chemotherapy.

 

-         May slow or prevent tumor growth in cancer

The American Cancer Society also reports that preliminary results from animal studies show that ginger root has some effect on preventing or slowing the growth of tumors.  They state that the results warrant further investigation to learn if the same results will be achieved in humans.

 

-         May help reduce chronic pain

Because ginger root dampens the body’s production of prostaglandins, it may help to reduce the severity of chronic pain due to rheumatoid arthritis and muscle aches. Ginger root also has an anti-inflammatory effect which may contribute to reducing the incidence of chronic pain.

 

Possible Side Effects of Ginger Root:

Ginger root is a widely used culinary herb that has no reported harmful side effects. There have been rare reported cases of those taking extremely large doses suffering from heartburn.

 

Summary:

There is a great deal of tradition – several thousand years worth – and considerable recent evidence that ginger can both prevent and relieve nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, taken on a daily basis, it serves as a mild appetite stimulant and digestive toner to keep your digestive system working well. Because the most promising results from studies involved standardized extracts of ginger root rather than the fresh or dry root, we choose to take ginger root as part of a total nutritional and health supplement. Taken this way, it helps to support and complement the effects of other ingredients.

 

 

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