To ginger up means to get enthused about something, and we have plenty to be excited about when it comes to what fresh ginger can do for our health.
In the ancient treatises of Ayurveda – from ancient Indian medical wisdom, their Samhitas reverently refers to ginger as “the universal medicine”. This is 5000 years ago. They knew their stuff. So did Confucius, who also recognized ginger’s healing powers. To the Romans, ginger was a symbol of wealth and fertility, and by the 13th century, the fresh root was grated powdered, dried and shipped through out the world, a player in the global spice trade. The benefits of this root and herb, and the fact for its reverence in ancient cultures is due to the fact that ancient health wisdom, like Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine have long understood how the root to all disease stems from inflammation, and it all starts in the gut.
So, the reality that ginger treats all manners of systemic inflammation would indubitably make it a comprehensive boon for our health, and the fact that it assists with digestion would cover the inception of disease states in the body by inhibiting the activity of prostaglandins.
Inflammation and Disease
And now wonder, ginger is a member of the same plant family as cardamom and turmeric, and by now we are pretty familiar with the wonders of curcumin, including anti-aging and immunity.
As previously mentioned, systemic inflammation finds its root in the gut first, due to poorly digested foods, and/or foods that have bypassed the gut lining due to perforations (from ulcers, allergies, auto-immune issues). This can also happen due to stress or bacterial infections, such as h. pylori. Which can lead to ulcers and lowered immunity. Some of the culprits in our diet that lead to inflammation include omega-6 oils like corn, soy, all manner of trans fats, and even supposed good guys like omega-3 rich canola oil. Got inflammation? Get rid of them!
Pasteurized dairy can cause issues, as can refined carbohydrates, and conventional meat that is fed the majority of our country’s antibiotics. This cheap livestock practice has given rise to some super bugs.
Returning to an Ayurvedic perspective, ginger is a homegrown humble super food. It is wonderful for digestion, due to its rajastic or stimulating nature: it brings needed heat and wakes up your taste buds on your tongue and the salivary glands, which actually notify your stomach to secrete more digestive juices, making for more efficient digestion, thereby improving our absorption of nutrients. It has also been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, and therefore it’s great for diabetes and curbing weight gain.
It’s said that all you need is a single teaspoon of ginger taken with salt before each meal to give your gut fire a boost. It also improves peripheral circulation and warms up the body, reducing feelings of cold and pain by pumping up the micro-circulatory channels in the body. Which is really helpful to clear away sinus congestion., phlegm, or reducing the length of a cough.
It functions as a natural antibiotic and can curb bacterial or viral infections from taking hold. So ginger can KEEP you from getting sick just as much as it can help you get well.
Add ginger juice with honey to relieve congestion in the lungs and facilitates clearer breathing – great thing to sip on if you’re feeling congested in the winter weather!
Anything that limits and reduces inflammation will also assist with the joints or those suffering from osteoarthritis. And get this: ginger juice can stop hiccups.
It also works faster and “equally efficient” to OTC meds that help to alleviate nausea, and is a gentle way to soothe menstrual cramps.
1. Drs. David Frawley and Vasant Lad, The Yoga of Herbs: an Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine , 2nd ed. (Twin Lakes: Lotus Press, 2001), 122.