To “ginger up” means to get enthused about something, and we have plenty to be excited about when it comes to what fresh ginger does for our health.
From ancient Indian medical wisdom in the treatises called Ayurveda, health masters reverently refer to ginger as “the universal medicine”. Even 2500 years ago, those Indian naturalists knew their stuff.
So did the Chinese – in fact Confucius recognized ginger’s healing powers. At almost the same time, over in Rome, ginger was a symbol of wealth and fertility, and by the 13th century Romans grated, powdered, dried and shipped the fresh root (actually a “ribosome”) throughout the known world: making the spice trade truly global.
These ancient health traditions understood that the root of disease stems from inflammation, and much inflammation starts in the gut. And, starting with digestion ginger treats all manner of systemic inflammation, making it a comprehensive boon for our health.
Through this process, ginger inhibits the inception of disease states in the body by stunting the activity of hormones responsible for inflammation (called prostaglandins).
INFLAMMATION AND DISEASE
And no wonder ginger is such a marvelous inflammation warrior — it’s is a member of the same plant family as cardamom and turmeric (and by now we are all pretty familiar with the wonders of curcumin, including its anti-aging properties and its ability to protect our immune system).
Let’s look more closely at ginger’s role in inflammation. Systemic inflammation often starts in the gut. Sometimes poorly digested foods and/or foods that have bypassed digestion and lingered due to perforations in the lining due to ulcers, allergies and autoimmune issues can lead to what nutritionists call gut permeability. Gut permeability also can result from 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, trans fats. Got inflammation? Get rid of those guys!
Pasteurized dairy products also can cause gut issues, as can refined carbohydrates and conventional meat if fed antibiotics (some scientists fear that this livestock practice will give rise to “super bugs” that will actually resist the effects of modern antibiotics).
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Returning to an Ayurvedic perspective, ginger is a humble, homegrown super food. It is wonderful for digestion due to its stimulating nature, meaning that it brings needed circulation and heat that “wakes up” the taste buds on your tongue.
Ginger activates the salivary glands, which actually notify your stomach to secrete more digestive juices before the food hits your tummy, making digestion more efficient leading to improved absorption of nutrients. Ginger has also been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, making it a great addition to your diet for anyone struggling with diabetes or attempting to curb weight gain.
All you need is a single teaspoon of ginger taken with salt before each meal to stoke your gut fire. This practice also improves peripheral circulation and warms up the whole body, reducing feelings of cold and pain by pumping up the micro-circulatory channels to the skin. When all those veins are working, your body naturally clears away sinus congestion and phlegm, which can reduce the length of a cough.
Coming down with a cold?
More good news about ginger is that it functions as a natural antibiotic curbing bacterial infections from taking hold. So, ginger can KEEP you from getting sick just as much as it can help you to get well.
When fighting a cold, one of my personal favorites is adding ginger juice with honey – it clears out congestion (it even clears my lungs) which makes breathing easier and clearer. In my opinion, it’s a great thing to sip on if you’re feeling congested in the winter weather!
Read the literature, and you’ll discover that ginger is credited with working faster and just as efficiently as over-the-counter medications that help stop nausea and soothe menstrual cramps.
By the way, anything that reduces inflammation will also help keep your joints healthy and reduce osteoarthritis pain.
And get this: just when you think a nip of ginger can’t get any better
ginger juice can also stop hiccups. Talk about an all-purpose
remedy for many common complaints, ginger’s got it going on!
HERE’S WHERE YOU CAN HELP … BE A HEALTH DETECTIVE
For over two years, I’ve scoured the internet seeking sources that can back up the health and benefit claims of fruits, vegetables, and supplements (sometimes called “boost”).
In the chart below are the sources of health claims we’ve discovered about ginger. Where you see a footnote, you’ll find a link to the source. If there is not a footnote, that means the specific health claim has been made, but neither I nor anyone I know has been able to locate sources of research or credible anecdotes to back up the claim.
So, if you are aware of a direct source of research or anecdotes to back up the claims, please post them in the comments. My crack-team of professionals will check them out and if they meet our standards, and I’ll make sure that they’re included in the next edition of the blog and give you a shout out!
Reported Health Benefit Claims of Ginger:
Enjoy this short podcast interview with Dr. Larry Davis
about just some of the benefits of ginger.
On today’s podcast with Dr. Larry Davis, we’ll learn about ginger. And so, let’s talk about ginger. Okay. Ginger. It’s a root, is what it is. And if you can go buy it in the store, you know, in a produce section, and a lot of people shave it and then throw it into a juice or a shake.
Uh, it’s been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and probably one of the biggest properties of it is the anti-inflammatory effect of it. And so it lowers inflammation in the body. And inflammation in the body is basically a component of almost every disease there is.
And so a lot of times it’s combined with turmeric or curcumin, and they make a great anti-inflammatory juice. [inaudible] and so tumeric is also known as curcumin. Exactly, exactly.
You’ll hear it called both things. Uh, and I know what the juice store, when we choose ginger, we put it in a cold press machine and it does yield good juice, but it’s very hard on the machine just because of it being so hard. Yeah.
- Drs. David Frawley and Vasant Lad, The Yoga of Herbs: an Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine , 2nd ed. (Twin Lakes: Lotus Press, 2001), 122.