Healing Herbs and Spices: Ginger Root

Illustration:  Franz Eugen Kohler

Ginger root is the rhizome of the Zingiber officinale plant.  Native to Southeast Asia, its name is derived from the Sanskrit word "singabera" which means "horn shape".  It is from the same plant family as turmeric, cardamom and galangal.  It is available as a fresh root, in powder form or as an oil.  Fragrant, pungent and spicy, it is widely used to flavor foods and beverages throughout the world, but most notably in Asian cuisine. 

Since antiquity, ginger has been highly prized for its therapeutic properties and has been used to treat a variety of ailments.  It is known to have anti-oxidant properties and is rich in certain minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.  Fresh ginger also contains an essential oil and several volatile oils, namely zingerone, shogaol and gingerol.   Gingerol has been shown to have analgesic, antipyretic, antibacterial and sedative properties.

In Ayurveda, ginger root is considered to be the universal medicine.  As such, it is used extensively  in the Ayurvedic diet and traditional herbal preparations. Along with black pepper and pippali, it is one of the three ingredients in the legendary Ayurvedic formula "trikatu" which is used to support digestive and circulatory functions.

One of nature's most promising herbs, ginger is believed to:

  • Prevent motion sickness, especially seasickness and morning sickness
  • Reduce dizziness and cold sweats
  • Stimulate and enhances digestion
  • Improve assimilation and absorption of nutrients
  • Reduce nausea and vomiting, especially in pregnancy
  • Detoxify the GI tract and improve elimination of wastes
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lessen pain and swelling and inflammation 
  • Improve circulation and enhance blood flow
  • Act as a blood thinner and prevent blood clots
  • Increase metabolism (by creating body heat) and aid in weight loss
  • Protect against colon cancer
  • Induce cell death in ovarian cancer cells
  • Inhibit free radicals in body
  • Boosts immunity
  • Relieve heartburn
  • Aid in prevention of colds and flu
  • Provide migraine headache relief
  • Help to fight bacterial and viral infections
  • Invigorate reproductive organs improving impotency and remedying infertility

This information is provided for general interest and informational purposes only. It is not intended as guidance for medicinal use. Consultation with professional health care provider is always advised and encouraged.
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