You probably have heard of using ginger to ease nausea and indigestion (remember the action carminative from an earlier post on parsley?), but did you know that ginger is Nature’s ibuprofen? It is an excellent anti-inflammatory, naturally taking away that pain in your shoulder or in your legs. It also relieves abdominal cramps. In my much younger days I kept crystallized ginger by my bedside for those occasional menstrual cramps that were inhibiting my ability to sleep.
During the past 25 years laboratories have been able to substantiate that ginger shares pharmacological properties with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and has fewer side effects than these drugs. So when I used to participate in 7 day event bicycle rides – riding 50 to 100 miles on a bicycle every day for 7 days – I didn’t take any ibuprofen. Instead I always carried ginger with me to nibble on along the ride.
These days I keep arthritis pain and stiff muscles at bay by dicing up fresh ginger root every morning and adding it to my sprouted grain cereal and fresh fruit. Many an evening meal is a little fruit and yogurt with either ground or fresh ginger added. (I also add cinnamon, but I’ll explain more about that herb in a later post.) A recent 12 month study showed that for those participants taking ginger and not placebo, not only did their subjective experience of pain lessen, but the swelling in their knees lessened to a measurable degree. That works for me!
Since ginger is effective at controlling inflammation, and inflammation contributes to the development of ovarian cancer cells, researchers are studying the effect of ginger on stopping cancer cells from growing. Jennifer Rhode, M.D., a gynecologic oncology fellow at the U-M Medical School says, “In multiple ovarian cancer cell lines, we found that ginger induced cell death at a similar or better rate than the platinum-based chemotherapy drugs typically used to treat ovarian cancer.” In addition, researchers at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center are investigating ginger to control nausea from chemotherapy and ginger to prevent colon cancer.
One recent study found that ginger was far superior to an over the counter and prescription drug Dramamine. Ginger relieved all the symptoms of motion-sickness, including nausea, dizziness, vomiting and cold sweating.
Speaking of sweating, when I become chilled, I drink a hot cup of ginger tea. It warms me from the inside out. It turns out that this ability of ginger to promote sweating (action called diaphoretic) boosts the immune system. Researchers have recently discovered that sweat contains a potent germ-fighting agent called dermicidin that once on the surface of the skin, protects the body from invading bacteria and fungi like E. coli and Candida albicans.
Hmmm… I think during this flu season I will make sure I regularly drink some ginger tea.