The Ten Crazy Health Benefits of Ginger
Though most people might only be familiar with ginger as a flavor of chicken on the Chinese restaurant menu, ginger root and the various incarnations of ginger have been a part of the naturalist’s medicine cabinet for thousands of years.
The ginger product commonly referred to as “ginger root” is not actually the root of the plant, but a part called the rhizome, or stem, though this article occasionally refers to it as ginger root because that’s how it’s known. There are loads of ways to use ginger for keeping sickness at bay and beating it when it does creep up.
The health benefits of ginger are packed into the ginger root, making it highly concentrated. Sometimes just a sliver or two is all you need to feel better. Steep a couple of slices in hot water for two or three minutes to make a nutritious tea, or cut it up into chunks to add to your cooking. Keep in mind, though, that some patients participating in medical studies reported better results, faster, when they increased their ginger intake. If you think ginger might be the right next step for your healthy lifestyle, keep reading to learn more about some of the specific ways you can benefit from ginger root.
1. Relieve digestive upset. Whether it’s motion sickness or morning sickness, ginger can alleviate the miserable sensation of nausea. Some cancer patients have even reported that ginger has been instrumental in moving past their stomach upset after receiving difficult-to-handle chemotherapy treatments – and ginger tea benefits these patients especially much because of the risk of dehydration that cancer patients face, given the loss of appetite that often accompanies their treatments.
2. Fight back against morning sickness. Women who are expecting might not feel that whole “bundle of joy” thing when they spend most of the morning hugging the toilet. Morning sickness is an almost universal experience of pregnancy, though the experience from person to person (and from baby to baby) is different. Many women have found that sipping warm ginger tea helps alleviate their morning sickness symptoms, allowing them to get to the business of the day more easily without worrying so much about dehydration.
3. Alleviate pain. The few studies done on ginger and pain have consistently showed that ginger has an anti-inflammatory effect on the whole body. Both chronic and acute inflammation are responsible for pain, especially joint pain, whether the injury is new or old. Ginger helps the body overcome the pain caused by inflammation naturally and without the aid of medications, which is a big draw for people who want to avoid drugs or who are unable to take them due to their medical conditions. One amazing study even showed results indicating that ginger was more effective at fighting pain than a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.
4. Boost your brain. If you have a specific desire to ward off Alzheimer’s disease, you may want to start sipping your ginger tea: initial studies have indicated that ginger may help to ward off the frightening disease.
5. Super-charge your immune system. The special compounds found in ginger are known to pump up the immune system, getting you healthy and keeping you there. Ginger can also promote something called “healthy sweating,” which is great for detoxifying as well as fighting off infections.
6. Ease your cold symptoms. Did you fight a losing battle to the common cold? (Don’t worry, it happens to all of us.) Everyone says tea can help you get better, faster, but if you decide to follow that advice, turn to ginger instead of that peach-blueberry stuff that’s been sitting in the back of your cabinet for three years. Choose ginger tea instead, and beat back some of the more misery-inducing symptoms – upset stomach, nausea, sinus pressure, congestion, sore throat – with a steaming mug of the good stuff loaded with health benefits. It might not get you to 100% by lunch time, but you’ll probably have a little more energy, a little less pain, and a clearer head at the very least.
7. Fights cancer. Preliminary studies in the lab have shown that ginger extract benefits cancer patients by slowing the growth of both colorectal and ovarian cancer tissues. There hasn’t been a ton of research yet, but the published studies are consistent with each other. This conclusion still needs a lot more testing, but the initial results are promising.
8. Cool your heartburn. People have turned to ginger tea to calm their heartburn flare-ups for hundreds of years. If you’ve never tried this before, don’t overdo it with your first attempt. Ginger can sometimes cause heartburn to be worse in some people, so take it easy with that first cup just to be sure you aren’t one of those unlucky ones whose heartburn actually is triggered by this would-be solution.
9. Heal your aching head. Some studies have shown a link between eating (or drinking) ginger and migraine relief. Researchers aren’t sure why, but one hypothesis is that one of the beneficial substances in ginger works against prostaglandins in the blood that cause pain and inflammation in the blood vessels which lead to migraines. If nothing else, the intake of soothing warm liquids probably won’t hurt.
10. Soothe menstrual cramps. For the same reasons that ginger root can be good for migraines, it’s good for relieving the pain from menstrual cramps. Ginger reduces the amount of the hormone in the body that carries “pain messages,” thereby reducing the experience of pain.
These are just ten of the amazing health benefits of ginger. The ancients understood the importance of consuming ginger for health reasons, and now modern science is beginning to understand the radical benefits of ginger as well. Whether you sip a ginger tea, grate ginger root into your recipes, or even eat it by the slice in your stir fry, you are supporting your body and your health with a powerful, time-tested natural supplement.
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