Barbara Myers, ND, MH

Ginger is a reed like plant that is native Asia where it has been used as a spice for at least 4,400 years.  It has since been cultivated in America, Jamaica, China and the West Indies.  Marco Polo reported seeing it in China between 1280 and 1290 AD and it was imported extensively in Europe from the 11th to 13th centuries.

Since ancient times, Ginger has played a role in Arabic, Indian and Asian herbal medicine.  It has been an essential ingredient in Traditional Chinese medicine since the 4th century BC.   The Greeks and the Romans imported Ginger from the east and ate it as a cure for intestinal parasites.  In the Middle Ages it was held in high esteem and said to have come from the Garden of Eden.

Ginger is a aromatic, knotty looking, spicy, pungent and very versatile rhizome.  Its phytochemicals work wonders for the digestive tract…quells stomach upset and encourages the smooth muscles of the intestines the work and move along the food.  Ginger is known to calm the stomach and prevent vomiting due to many conditions.. pregnancy, dizziness, motion sickness, vertigo and chemotherapy induced nausea.

Of the hundreds of different chemical components found in ginger root, the most therapeutic benefits come from gingerols, the oily resin from the root that acts as a highly potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.  Zingibain, another chemical compound in ginger is a proteolytic enzyme that breaks down proteins and reduces inflammation by inhibiting some of the bodies chemical processes which cause inflammation. Ginger has been found to accelerate the stomach emptying after a meal.

Ginger’s wonderful effects as a treatment for nausea have led it to be highly recommended for sea sickness or motion sickness as well, many report it works more effectively than Dramamine, and with far fewer side effects. You don’t have to be moving, however, for Ginger to ease nausea…a cup of Ginger tea is always settling.

Use 100% pure ginger only in the form of fresh rhizome, crystallized, extract, ginger syrup, essential oil or capsules.  The health benefits of ginger essential oil are nearly identical to the benefits of fresh ginger.  The essential oil has the highest concentration of gingerol thus it would be the best form of ginger to use medicinally.

There are studies indicating that in animals, ginger increases the seizure threshold.

Ginger energetics are heating, stimulating, diffusive & drying. It is important to keep these properties in mind when deciding whether to use this or any herb.  If you tend to dryness or being overly hot, then ginger would not be a good herb for you to use as it may aggravate your constitution.

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