It seems that we have all been hoodwinked into believing that medicine must come from a tiny bottle of pills or from a multi million dollar machine. I know it is an old cliché, but its true; “there’s medicine in your cupboard”. Take ginger for instance; ginger ale, ginger snaps, gingerbread cookies… all delicious.
You may have heard of ginger being good for upset stomachs, nausea and motion sickness. My mom would give me ginger ale as a kid when I was sick. Or perhaps you heard that ginger is great for morning sickness or car sickness or nausea or vomiting in general. It’s true. Doctors often now encourage chemotherapy patients to take ginger to reduce vomiting and nausea.
The pungent and aromatic ginger seems to be a very powerful anti-inflammatory. “Inflammation”, you remember is the process in the body that causes everything from aches and pains, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases and even cancers. By reducing the inflammation in our bodies, we may reduce pain, heart problems, diabetes and perhaps reduce our chances of cancer.
Did you know that by adding ginger to your diet, you will assuredly reduce pain in your body, decrease your chances of heart attacks and strokes and perhaps even lower your risk of cancer?
Who would say such blasphemous, cockamamie & absurd things? It must be some crazy vegetarian health nut who eats seaweed for lunch, right? Well… its actually places like the Hormel Institute, the National Institute of Health, the World Health Organizations, Mayo Clinic and the US Center for Disease Control.
So far, studies have been done using ginger as a treatment in colorectal cancer, ovarian and several other cancers.
Yes, even the world renowned cancer research facility here in beautiful Austin, MN has even done research and proven gingers anti cancer properties. So much so, that the University of Minnesota isolated and patented the compound “6-gingerol” and is in partnership with pharmaceutical companies to transform it into a cancer treatment.
While this is very cutting edge technology we are talking about here to isolate and synthesize a single molecule from the ginger root, people have been using ginger for thousands of years as a medicine.
During the very first week of acupuncture school, we learned about how the Chinese have been using Ginger for thousands of years as a medicine, and how FRESH ginger is considered to have VERY different effects on the body than DRIED ginger.
Apparently, when ginger is dried, some of the compounds in it oxidize, change and become different molecules, sort of like how a shiny copper roof turns green when exposed to air for a year.
Fresh ginger has been shown to have very potent antiviral and antibacterial effects. In a Petri dish, it kills just about every type of germ. By eating it or drinking it as a tea, it may help kill a wide host of germs in the body from yeast infections to athletes foot to the common cold.
Yet “dried” ginger is where the excitement is at. Drying it seems to increase its anti-inflammatory effects, allowing it to be a very useful pain relievers (14,000 deaths each year are directly linked to Tylenol, but I have never heard of anybody dying from eating too much ginger)
Antiviral, colds and flus
When it comes to aches and pains, ginger is amazing. Studies show that 75% of those with arthritis pain who consumed ginger on a daily basis saw significant pain reduction and 100% of those with muscular pain saw relief.
So how to you take it? Luckily there are lots of options.
Many of you will enjoy cooking with ginger. With it’s delicious & distinctive flavor, ginger goes very well in many styles of cuisine. One can also snack on “crystallized ginger”, available at Hy-Vee (in the produce section among all the dried fruits. It also comes pickled as a ginger relish which is traditionally served with sushi to not only help kill any pathogens on the raw fish, but to also to counteract the “cold” fish and rice and “warm up” your stomach. Very important.
So, you can take ginger several ways. you can cook with it for one; fresh grated ginger in tasty dished such as Thai coconut-lemongrass chicken (delicious), or maybe made as a ginger tea or in pill form if you really want a therapeutic dose.
In many studies, 1000mg a day of ginger extract seems to be the standard dose. But talk to your healthcare professional. While only very few Medical Doctors have any training in herbal medicine, that is slowly changing and most do have access to useful references such as the “Physicians Desk Reference of Herbal Medicine”. If anyone has any questions, just call my office and I would be happy to answer them for you.