Understanding the medicinal values of ginger
There are numerous plants and their parts (leaves, flower, stem and roots) that have been used by human beings for their medicinal and culinary properties. Such practices have flourished in places like India, China, Japan, the Mediterranean region, North and South America. Awareness has suddenly increased in other places like Africa and I am certain that in a few years, we shall be talking more of herbal medicine than anything else. It is in light of this that I write this article today about ginger. Ginger, like other plants in its category, is used more because of its culinary properties and not its medicinal contents. I believe that knowledge of these plants and all their properties will place us in a better stead as we prepare to establish herbal medicine more than it ever was in this clime. I begin today with ginger, hoping that numerous others will also be discussed.
Zingiber Officinale is the scientific name of what we commonly know as ginger. It is a flowering plant with a rhizome (root) that is frequently used as a spice. Ginger has been accepted and used more as a culinary herb (spice) than a medicinal herb. It will surprise some to find out that ginger has several health benefits and I shall present about ten of those today.
Ginger promotes heart health. It regulates blood pressure, reduces the blood level of cholesterol and aids in preventing blood from clotting. These all together reduce the risk of heart disease. Minerals, such as Potassium and manganese, which are predominant in ginger, also help to enhance the health of the heart.
Ginger and diabetes
The following properties make ginger an important herb in the management of diabetes: lowers the level of sugar in the blood circulation, it makes other anti-diabetic drugs more effective; it reduces urine protein level and urine output. Ginger also protects the nerves against neuropathies in diabetes and lowers the level of fat in the blood. It reduces the risk of other complications, especially of the heart in diabetes.
Ginger in the management of arthritis. With its strong anti-inflammatory and pain killing properties, ginger is used in the treatment of arthritis. In such arthritic conditions as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout, ginger has been helpful and effective in treatment. Topical application of a warm ginger paste with turmeric (another potent anti-inflammatory herb) has been found to be effective in the treatment of the pain associated with arthritis.
In usage, ginger can be chewed raw and fresh or it can be ground to a powder form. This can be sprinkled on your food, added to your water or made into a ginger juice with a bit of honey and lemon added. A few drops of ginger essential oil in your bath water would ease the aches and pains of muscles.
Menstrual pains and spasms
As a strong anti-inflammatory agent and natural painkiller, ginger has been found useful in the prevention and treatment of the pain and cramps, associated with the monthly menstrual period. Ginger powder has been encapsulated and this or the powder sprinkled on your food can instantly give relief to this pain. Ginger also comes as tea and when consumed regularly as a replacement of sweetened and carbonated beverages, menstrual cramps and numerous other conditions can be put in check.
Ginger suppresses cough. It does so by eliminating the mucus in the lungs that may cause coughing. This is more so, when the cough is caused by common cold. Ginger elicits a warm, pungent action that is suited for this purpose.
Ginger prevents cold and flu. Ginger is a known detoxifier and an immune booster. With these properties, ginger can be applied as a natural treatment for cold and flu. It is also an antifungal, antiviral and antitoxic agent. Drink ginger tea several times daily to take care of cold and flu. You can also put a teaspoonful of dry ginger powder in a cup and bring it boil. Inhale the steam from this cup of ginger. It will clear the congestion and alleviate other symptoms.
Morning sickness. This is the name given to the condition whereby a pregnant woman vomits in the morning as she wakes up. Ginger can get rid of it. Chew a portion of fresh ginger will not only stop morning sickness, but can also take care of nausea and motion sickness.
Ginger prevents cancer. Researchers have found out that ginger is able to combat quite a few of the cancers common to man. Included in the list is lung, prostate, breast, pancreatic, ovarian, colon and skin cancers. In particular, ginger has been discovered to induce cell death in ovarian cancer.
Other uses of ginger include its calming effect on an upset stomach and in the treatment of migraine.
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