[info]Fair Warning: Ginger is very safe, but can interfere with blood-thinning medications—if you use them, talk to your healthcare provider before you dive in.[/info]
What is it?
When we discuss ginger (AKA Zingiber officinale), we’re invariably talking about the bit of the plant that grows underground.
Fun fact: the common phrase “ginger root” is actually a bit of a misnomer—we’re actually using the rhizome (a fancy word for a hunk of underground plant stem with a buncha roots on it).
What’s it good for?
First of all, it’s delicious—you may know it for its pivotal role in various Asian and Indian cuisines. But did you know that ginger is also a great healer? Here are just a few of its tricks:
This is the big one. It’s very easy to get stuck in a self-defeating loop: eat bad stuff, take drugs to relieve ensuing digestive nightmare. Eat more bad stuff. Ugh!
In herbal medicine, ginger is called a “carminative,” meaning it offers relief for gas and stomach spasms. Researchers have also found that ginger is just as effective as Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) at treating motion sickness, nausea, diarrhea and pregnancy-related vomiting, with fewer side effects.
One more time: Ginger is just as effective as Dramamine, with fewer side effects.
In other words, ginger is better. Ginger has also been used to significantly reduce the nausea experienced by cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Ginger presents one of those nice cases in which science has verified that Nature’s way just works!
Inflammation: Ginger is a champ as an anti-inflammatory, primarily because it is one of the richest sources of protelytic enzymes you’re likely to find.
Prote-what? These enzymes help you break down the proteins in meat for energy, and they can help with autoimmune disease. They do this by reducing blood levels of immune complexes. This is a good thing: these complexes, when found in high levels (as in autoimmune disorders) catalyze your immune system into self-sabotage, causing it to attack your own body and create tissue damage.
Natural meat tenderizer: Just reiterating the protein point for the carnivores out there, because a lot of us NEED a little help digesting domesticated animal meat properly.
Ginger contains Zingibain, a proteolytic which chemically breaks down protein. Adolph’s commercial meat tenderizer (don’t use it!) works because it contains this type of enzyme.
Papaya and pineapple are also good sources of proteolytic enzymes, as attested by their traditional use as natural meat tenderizers. But ginger contains about 180 times more of these enzymes than papaya and is cheaper and infinitely easier to find and grow if you’re not in a tropical or subtropical region.
Muscle pains: Ginger also contains gingerols, another anti-inflammatory compound. This helps with arthritis and muscular pains by suppressing pro-inflammatory compounds (called cytokines and chemokines).
Antioxidants: Ginger contains more than 12 antioxidants, which can neutralize the damaging free radicals caused by environmental factors.
How do I use it?
[info]PRO TIP: Keep a hunk of peeled ginger in the freezer for easy grinding & slicing. A microplane helps to deal with the thick fibrous strands, but any old cheese grinder will work in a pinch.[/info]
Use ginger fresh or dried. It’s great in teas (delicious with a touch of honey – my everyday favorite), in food, or encapsulated. It also performs excellently in a tincture (and, hey, we make a great one right here at OHA).
Now that you’re hip to the benefits, check out how to
Grow Your Own Ginger with Practically Zero Effort.