Fall is almost here bringing holidays and lots of spicy home-baked goodies. But one spice shouldn't sit on the shelves waiting to be added to gingerbread and other treats. Ginger is a spice that should be used liberally year-round. Besides adding a zing to many foods, ginger has been used as a medicine since ancient times. Native to China, it has been used as a spice for more than 4,400 years and has been used to treat digestive problems and nausea for at least 2,000 years.
Modern studies have been investigating ginger's healing properties, and many of the ancient beliefs have been confirmed. Ginger's uses include:Heart disease.
The Journal of Nutrition reported on a study of mice that were genetically predisposed to develop heart disease. The scientists found that when the mice were given ginger extract daily, they developed 44 percent fewer aortic atherosclerotic lesions. In addition to reducing atherosclerotic lesions, the ginger extract reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol by 33 percent and triglycerides by 27 percent. The authors concluded that "dietary consumption of ginger extract ... significantly attenuates the development of atherosclerotic lesions."Muscle pain.
A study reported in the Journal of Pain investigated the ability of ginger to relieve muscle pain. Participants in the studies, two groups of 34 and 40 volunteers, respectively, were given capsules containing two grams of either raw or heat-treated ginger, or a placebo for 11 consecutive days. On the eighth day, they performed exercises that caused moderate muscle injury to the arm. Arm function, inflammation, pain, and a biochemical involved in pain were measured prior to and for three days after exercise. Both raw and heat-treated ginger lowered the pain by 25 percent. Migraine.
A randomized, placebo-controlled study funded by PuraMed Bioscience found that 63 percent of people who took a homeopathic preparation of ginger and the herb feverfew found pain relief from migraines. Only 39 percent of people who took a placebo reported relief.Nausea and motion sickness.
Ginger has been used for many years to soothe queasy stomachs. One trial of 80 novice sailors who were prone to motion sickness found that ginger significantly reduced their symptoms, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. As a bonus, ginger didn't cause any of the side effects, including drowsiness, associated with prescription and nonprescription meds that fight motion sickness.
The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger help protect the brain against memory-robbing diseases. Research has shown that ginger, in addition to increasing the supply of nutrients to the brain, can block the creation of inflammatory chemicals, such as prostaglandins, which are associated with Alzheimer's. Cancer.
University of Minnesota researchers conducted research on mice that had been genetically altered to be susceptible to tumors. They were divided into two groups, and one group was fed a small amount of extract of -gingerol, which is the chemical that gives ginger its spicy taste. All mice were then injected with human colon cancer cells. Mice given the ginger extract had more than 75 percent fewer tumors than the mice that didn't receive the extract. Arthritis.
The anti-inflammatory powers of ginger can be used to fight arthritis. According to the University of Maryland, a study involving 261 people with osteoarthritis of the knee found that those who were given a ginger extract twice a day had less pain and required less pain-killing medication that those who were given a placebo.