Contributed by Dori Cranmore, All About Herbs
Ginger does more than just add a snap of flavor to foods and beverages. For centuries, the root of the plant has been used as a remedy for a variety of illnesses, ranging from the common cold to cancer.
The spice has long been prized for its potent anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. Ginger's anti-inflammatory properties can work wonders in the gastrointestinal tract. Long before commercially-produced ginger ale became a popular remedy for stomach upset, ancient healers prescribed ginger tea to soothe a variety of digestive symptoms, especially nausea and vomiting.
Research suggests that taking up to one gram of ginger daily is a safe and effective remedy for nausea associated with morning sickness during pregnancy. Most experts recommend using ginger only as needed to alleviate nausea during pregnancy, rather than taking it on a regular basis.
Ginger is so effective at alleviating nausea, that it is often used by individuals undergoing chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer. For cancer patients, supplemental ginger may do more than just ease nausea. Research at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center suggests that the spice may have potent anti-cancer properties as well.
Ginger has an excellent safety profile and is associated with few unwelcome side effects. Still, it's wise to consult your physician before using it on a regular basis, especially if you're taking other medications or if you have any problems with your health.
For most healthy folks, ginger is a safe and effective remedy for nausea, stomach aches and muscle pain. The medicinal plant is available in most health food stores in a variety of forms, including capsules, teas and powders.
If you buy commercially-prepared ginger ale, ginger tea or ginger snap cookies, be sure to read the label. Many products contain only artificial flavors, rather than real ginger. There are ginger candies that are quite effective for nausea as well.
For motion sickness use ginger in the same way you would for chemotherapy. Taking true ginger, whether in a tea or supplement, up to three days before the activity that causes you motion sickness, can be extremely helpful and make your road trip or boat outing much more enjoyable. Many will make a ginger tea and sip on it slowly during their activity.
If you want to prepare your own, you can buy fresh or dried ginger root at many supermarkets. After washing, chopping or grinding the root, you can add it to foods or use it to make a tasty tea.
Even if you don't need to use ginger for its medicinal properties, you can still enjoy its distinctive, delicious flavor.
Dori Cranmore is a registered nurse and herb specialist, and is the owner of All About Herbs in Wasilla (376-8327). Article and research used with permission from Rallie McAllister.