“Everything good is found in a ginger” says an old Indian proverb. Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) is a popular kitchen spice with immense health benefits. In ancient India, ginger was known as magical herb as it has the power to treat a lot of ailments like digestive problems, inflammation, dyspepsia (bloating, heartburn, flatulence), loss of appetite and more.
A lot of research studies validate the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activities of ginger. It is well established that regular consumption of moderate amount of ginger in any form reduces the incidence of lifestyle-related diseases.
The commonly used edible portion of ginger is its rhizome which possesses distinct pungent aromatic smell. This irresistible fragrance is due to its various components like zingerone, shogaols, gingerols, and volatile oils. In addition, these bioactive constituents of ginger owes several medicinal properties. India and China are the largest cultivators of ginger. It is commonly used in Indian cuisines in the form of paste, powder, oil or as juice.
Nutritional profile of ginger
As per USDA database each 100 gm of ginger contains 17.77 g carbohydrate, 1.82 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 1.7 g sugar, 13 mg sodium, 0.16 mg vitamin B6, 16 mg calcium, 0.6 mg iron, 5 mg vitamin C, 415 mg potassium, 43 mg magnesium, 34 mg phosphorus, 0.34 mg zinc, and 11 mcg folate.
Health Benefits of Ginger Rhizome
It is proven that ginger extract is capable of fighting many bacteria and viruses which can cause severe infections. Most importantly, ginger root is known to kill bacteria which cause gum infection and bleeding. Fresh ginger is potent against Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection which causes lower respiratory tract infection, especially in infants and children.
The phenolic component of ginger is effective in treating dyspepsia. Dyspepsia is a condition in which a person feel bloating, heartburn and recurrent pain in upper part of the stomach. Ginger actually help in the fast emptying of ingested food by suppressing gastric contractions. It also stimulates the salivary amylase and bile juices for fast and proper digestion of food.
In the first trimester of pregnancy, many women experience morning sickness. Regular consumption of 1-1.5gm of fresh ginger significantly reduces nausea and vomiting. However, it is advisable to consult your gynecologist if you have any associated problem.
Cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy can drink ginger tea to get relief from nausea. Ginger tea is highly beneficial in reducing post-surgery nausea due to anesthesia effect on the body.
This anti-nausea effect of ginger is attributed to its inhibitory action on serotonin receptors in the brain and gut as well as on vasopressin.
To make ginger tea, grate 20 grams of fresh ginger in boiling water. Sieve the water using a strainer. You can add lemon and honey to enhance the taste.
Reduce osteoarthritis pain and muscle soreness
Ginger is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties since ancient times. Consumption of ginger root in any form can reduce the pain caused by excessive exercise, muscle soreness, and osteoarthritis. This anti-inflammatory activity of ginger was due to its inhibitory effect on enzymes like cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase with consequent reduction of inflammatory chemical messengers like leukotrienes, prostaglandins and tumor necrosis factor. Further ginger rhizomes have no side effects, while conventional painkillers with similar treatment properties display multiple side effects.
Eat 2-5 grams of ginger daily and apply this along with oils of sesame or castor on affected areas to reduce stiffness. Applying ginger topically reduces the inflammation associated with arthritis.
Relief Menstrual cramps
A great reliever to women for monthly painful days!! Ginger root is found to be very effective in reducing extreme painful cramping associated with menstruation, the condition known as dysmenorrheal. Ginger tea or ginger oil can be effectively used during periods to reduce the pain.
Increase blood flow
Ginger is known to clear the fat deposition inside the wall of arteries thereby increasing the blood flow. It stimulates the muscle cells and increases oxygen supply to the body.
Active bio component gingerol present in ginger has shown anti-carcinogenic potential in many experimental studies. Anti-cancer activity of ginger has been attributed through the stimulation of tumor suppressor gene as well as the suppression of metastasis.
Prevent Alzheimer’s disease
Severe cognitive impairment in elderly people known as Alzheimer’s disease was found to be prevented on regular consumption of ginger. It is observed that plants with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can promptly delay age-related neurodegeneration. Ginger comes in the list of these reputed plants. Regular consumption of ginger significantly reduces the oxidative stress and chronic inflammation which helps in maintenance of proper brain signaling with age.
Reduce Blood Glucose levels and boost Heart function
Recent studies reveal that consumption of ginger may reduce blood glucose level in patients with diabetes. It was found that ginger significantly reduces the levels of fasting glucose.
Two major risk factors for heart disease ApoB / ApoA ratio and marker lipoprotein were found to be significantly decreased by consumption of moderate amount of ginger daily for 3 months
Control high Cholesterol
Ginger is potent in the reduction of LDL (Low-density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol. Many studies indicate that consumption of 2-3 gm of ginger daily for 3 months significantly reduces the levels of cholesterol biomarkers.
Treat Hair Loss
Ginger is one of the excellent remedies to treat hair loss. As ginger root possess antibacterial and antifungal properties, it cleanses the scalp making hair strong and shiny. Further, bioactive components of ginger boost hair follicles and increase blood circulation on the scalp.
Take a fresh ginger root and extract juice. Mix 1 tablespoon of this juice with the same amount of olive or jojoba oil. Massage this mixture onto your scalp in circular motion. Leave it on hairs for 20-30 minutes and then rinse off using an herbal shampoo. Follow this remedy twice a week for best results.
For Acne Scar removal
Last but not the least ginger can be used for exfoliation of the skin. Ginger mixed with sugar and olive oil can be used as a natural scrub to cleanse the skin and remove acne scars. It also absorbs excess oil and dirt from the skin leaving it flawless and clean.