Ginger is a rhizome, meaning a root spice similar to turmeric in appearance. Ginger has its origin in South East Asian countries wherein it has been used since past many centuries as a medicinal tonic for various ailments. It has been used widely in Chinese medicine as well as in Ayurveda. Apart from medicinal formulations, ginger has also been used in preparing refreshing beverages as well as regional cuisines in most of the countries of the Asian sub continent.
The medicinal properties of ginger has been attributed to one of its main components called gingerol. Gingerol is also the active constituent in ginger responsible for giving it the pungency and spicyness. Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs use such as pain killers, analgesics, antacids, have become quite common among the general population, without any doctor’s prescription required.Ginger has several benefits which mimics the action of several allopathic drugs in alleviating common illnesses as well as arresting the progression of certain chronic diseases. Allopathic drugs may have several side effects with their prolonged use, however, ginger is more effective than the other allopathic drugs, without having any adverse, harmful effects in the body on prolonged use.
Following are some of the many common illnesses for which ginger is safe as well as equally effective in comparison to allopathic drugs :
Nasal Congestion & Sore Throat
Ginger aroma, due to its pungency, loosens the mucus in the nasal airways opens the blocked sinus. This helps relieves nasal congestion. An effective remedy for nasal congestion & sore throat, other than allopathic medicines, can be sipping warm to hot ginger tea. Gargling with warm ginger & lime water with pinch of salt added helps relieve sore throat.
Heartburn & Acidity
Ginger helps reduce gastric contractions and prevents stomach acid from passing back into the esophagus. Small dose of ginger is effective, but is not yet medically proven. Having ginger tea twice in a day before meals helps reduce acidity & heartburn.
Ginger helps treat dyspepsia (indigestion) by increasing the gastric emptying rate, which is the reason for upper abdominal pain. Its carminative action also stimulates release of gut enzymes for effective digestion of food and also relieves abdominal gas. Having 1.2 gms of ginger powder before meals improves rate of gastric emptying post meals.
Ginger has beneficial anti-inflammatory properties which relieves exercise induced muscle pain & soreness. One study showed that having 2 gms of ginger powder per day for 11 days reduced muscular pain & fatigue.
As far as the anti-carcinogenic properties of ginger are concerned, ginger contains several phenolic compounds known as gingerols which act in various mechanisms to arrest growth of cancer cells in the body. Gingerols enhance cellular death of cancer cells, destroys free radicals causing growth of cancerous cells, enhances antioxidant action in the body to suppress cancer cell growth.
Several studies among the diabetic population has found that ginger supplementation has resulted in reduction of blood glucose, body weight, insulin, bad cholesterol (LDL) & abnormal lipid levels as well as raised good cholesterol (HDL) levels.