Even though ginger has been used as a natural remedy for centuries, science is just now proving that it can treat everything from cancer to arthritis. Historically, it has been very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. It is regarded as a good eliminator of intestinal gas and a substance that relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract. Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.
Below are some of its research-proven health benefits:
Ovarian Cancer Treatment
Ginger may be powerful weapon in the treatment of ovarian cancer. A study conducted at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center found that its powder induces cell death in all ovarian cancer cells to which it was applied. Lab experiments by Dr Rebecca Liu showed that gingerols, the active phytonutrients in ginger, kill ovarian cancer cells by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) and autophagocytosis (self-digestion). Ginger extracts have been shown to have both antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects on cells. Dr. Liu and her colleagues believe that it may be of special benefit for ovarian cancer patients because cancer cells exposed to ginger do not become resistant to its cancer-destroying effects like they do other chemotherapeutic agents.
Colon Cancer Prevention
Gingerols, the main active components in ginger, may also inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells. Researchers from the University of Minnesota’s Hormel Institute found that gingerol prevented mice from developing colorectal carcinomas when compared to a control group. According to the researcher for this study, “These results strongly suggest that ginger compounds may be effective chemo-preventive and/or chemotherapeutic agents for colorectal carcinomas.”
A review of several studies has concluded that ginger is just as effective as vitamin B6 in the treatment of morning sickness. Its anti-vomiting action has been shown to be very useful in reducing the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, even the forms that require hospitalization. A review of 6 double-blind controlled trials with a total of 675 participants confirmed that ginger is effective in relieving the severity of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. And unlike anti-vomiting drugs, which can cause severe birth defects, ginger is extremely safe, without significant side effects, and only a small dose is required.
Motion Sickness Remedy
Recent double-blind studies have demonstrated that ginger is very effective in preventing the symptoms of motion sickness, especially seasickness. In fact, one study showed that it was superior to Dramamine, a commonly used drug for motion sickness. Ginger reduces all symptoms associated with motion sickness including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating.
Reduces Pain and Inflammation
One study showed that ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and is a powerful natural painkiller. The gingerols are very potent anti-inflammatory compounds. These substances are believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly. In two clinical studies involving patients who responded to conventional drugs and those who didn’t, physicians found that 75% of arthritis patients and 100% of patients with muscular discomfort experienced relief of pain and/or swelling.
Ginger has long been used as a natural heartburn remedy. It is most often taken in the form of tea for this purpose.
Cold and Flu Prevention and Treatment
Ginger has long been used as a natural treatment for colds and the flu. Many people also find it to be helpful in the case of stomach flus or food poisoning, which is not surprising given the positive effects it has upon the digestive tract.
Ginger can help promote healthy sweating, which is often helpful during colds and flu. A good sweat may do a lot more than simply assist detoxification. German researchers have recently found that sweat contains a potent germ-fighting agent that may help fight off infections which they named dermicidin. Dermicidin is manufactured in the body’s sweat glands, secreted into the sweat, and transported to the skin’s surface where it provides protection against invading microorganisms, including bacteria such as E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, and fungi, including Candida albicans.
Prevention of Diabetic Nephropathy
A study done on diabetic rats found that those rats given ginger had a reduced incidence of diabetic nephropathy (kidney damage).
Ginger is so concentrated with active substances that you don’t have to use very much to receive its beneficial effects. For nausea, tea made by steeping one or two 1/2-inch slices (one 1/2-inch slice equals 2/3 of an ounce) of fresh ginger in a cup of hot water will likely be all you need to settle your stomach. For arthritis, some people have found relief consuming as little as a 1/4-inch slice cooked in food, although in the studies noted above, patients who consumed more ginger reported quicker and better relief.
How to Select and Store
Whenever possible, choose fresh ginger over the dried form of the spice since it contains higher levels of gingerol. Fresh ginger root is sold in the produce section of markets. When purchasing it fresh, make sure it is firm, smooth and free of mold. Ginger is generally available in two forms, either young or mature. The mature form has a tough skin that requires peeling while the young form, usually only available in Asian markets, does not need to be peeled. Fresh ginger can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks if it is left unpeeled. Stored unpeeled in the freezer, it will keep for up to six months.
Dried ginger powder should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place. Alternatively, you can store it in the refrigerator where it will enjoy an extended shelf life of about one year.