Ginger root, seen here, is often used as a natural way to treat nausea. Photo courtesy: Pixabay
Sometimes even with proper precautions we succumb to the dreaded winter cold and flu.
When I start to get the sniffles, cough or the scratchiness of a sore throat I reach for the spicy ginger. I steep a fresh ginger honey tea and chug that all day. I make my Dad’s famous Taiwanese hot sesame oil and ginger chicken soup recipe with noodles and munch furiously on “beni shoga” a pickled Japanese ginger.
The ginger warms me up and promotes a light sweat which is great for detox. In addition, ginger has anti-oxidant, anti-fungal and ant-inflammatory properties.
Ginger is an aromatic flowering plant whose root belonging to the family Zingiberaceae. It has been widely used as a spice or a folk medicine in many countries for over 5,000 years.
Other members of the same family include tumeric, cardamom and galangal which also have well-known beneficial health effects. It was indigenous to South East Asia before the Romans introduced it to the Roman Empire, and it regained popularity in the rest of Europe via explorers during the Spice Trade. Now it is mainly cultivated in India, China and Nepal.
Ginger can flavour a tea, coffee, juice, wine, ale or beer. It is used as a main ingredient in Indian curries, and added to cold or hot East Asian soups, and as a zesty marinade for meat, seafood and vegetable dishes. It can be pickled or eaten raw as a garnish. It can be added to dessert as a dry spice into gingerbread cakes, cookies and crystallized into candied confectionery.
– Medical Use –
Today ginger is becoming a popular natural treatment for nausea from seasickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy.
In Europe pharmacies will regularly promote and advise their patients to take ginger tinctures and pills over the traditional chemical Gravol and Dramamine medications.
According to the American Cancer Society, ginger has been flagged as a possible cancer treatment for future study and research. It is on the FDA’s generally recognized as safe list.
A warning, as with other herbal treatments, ginger can have an adverse drug interact with anti-coagulant, diabetic or blood pressure medications. Talk to your doctor before taking ginger in therapeutic dosages.
– Traditional Folk Medicine –
Ginger is considered a stimulant and is used mainly for treating symptoms of gasterointestinal distress. It is considered a carminative (a substance that promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and an intestinal spasmolytic (a substance that relaxes the intestinal tract). Ginger is used as traditional Indian/Chinese remedy for reducing arthritis pain and improving joint mobility. It was also frequently used to disguise the taste of medicines. Side effects of gas, bloating, heartburn and nausea have been reported with powdered ginger intake.
You don’t have to use very much ginger to receive its beneficial effects as it is a concentrated herb. A 1/4 to 1/2 inch slice a day is all you need. Whenever possible, select fresh ginger over the dried form of the spice since it has a stronger flavour and contains a higher concentration of the beneficial active compounds. Fresh unpeeled ginger can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three and up to six months in the freezer.
Dried ginger powder should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place. It has an extended shelf life of about one year it in the refrigerator.
Brew a hot ginger tea or add a ginger based dish to your weekly meal plan to spice up your immune system before reaching for the OTC prescription medications.
Dr. Ailin Oishi-Stamatiou, BSc Hons, DC, is a licensed and registered chiropractor who practices in Leaside, Toronto. She is bilingual in Japanese and English. More info at: www.droishi.com