Botanical Name: Zingiber officinale
Common Uses: Bloating, Indigestion, Nausea, Inflammation, Constipation
Easily identifiable by its distinct smell and taste, ginger is one of the most commonly used spices in both culinary and therapeutic contexts around the world.
Ginger has been integral to ancient civilizations for centuries, praised not only for its aromatic qualities but also for its diverse medicinal properties. Traditionally, the rhizome of ginger, ginger root, has been used in ancient healing systems, such as Chinese and Ayurvedic, to treat many ailments ranging from colds to migraines to cancer. However, the most common and traditional application of ginger root is to treat digestive issues such as constipation, nausea, bloating and indigestion. The vast healing potential of ginger root is a result of its antioxidant, carminative, antiemetic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and antispasmodic effects.
Regarding digestive health, modern research on ginger root has confirmed the therapeutic benefits that have been long observed. Through scientific findings, ginger root has been established as a powerful natural substance which may alleviate bloating, nausea, flatulence, indigestion and intestinal cramping. This is achieved partially by the ability of ginger root to decrease pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter and expel gas produced from poor digestion.
Research shows that some of the therapeutic effects of ginger root may be attributed to active phenolic compounds, gingerols, which are antispasmodic and may strengthen the tone of intestinal muscles. This is manifested by the ability of ginger root to work locally on serotonin receptors in the gastrointestinal tract. The antispasmodic activity of phenols prevents the backflow of acid, which may alleviate acid reflux and heartburn.
In a randomized double-blind and placebo controlled study on patients with functional dyspepsia, it was found that ingesting ginger increases the frequency of antral contractions, accelerating gastric emptying. The results showed that the median half-emptying time was shortened by several minutes in the study group that consumed ginger. Additional in vivo research has found that the stimulatory effect of ginger may result from its effect on important enzymes for digestion such as trypsin and pancreatic lipase.
Additionally, the consumption of ginger is understood to produce a warming effect resulting in the stimulation of thermogenic receptors. A double-blind randomized crossover study has shown ginger to be very effective in reducing nausea and vomiting. In fact, due to its high safety level, ginger root is often administered to pregnant women to treat nausea associated with pregnancyInteresting Fact:
Interesting Fact:In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the healing properties of ginger are so revered that it is an ingredient in approximately half of all prescriptions.
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Andrea Gordon MD, Abigail Love MD, MPH. “Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy.” Integrative Medicine, by David Rakel, Fourth ed., Elsevier, 2018, 542-549
Nikkhah Bodagh, Mehrnaz, et al. “Ginger in Gastrointestinal Disorders: A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials.” Food Science & Nutrition, John Wiley and Sons Inc., 5 Nov. 2018
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