Did you know the ginger plant, also known as Zingiber officinale, is a tropical flowering plant? Yes, a flowering plant! You’re probably thinking ginger looks nothing like a flower. And that is because the part that we use is the underground stem of the plant, otherwise known as the “ginger root” or simply “ginger”.
Ginger is one of the most widely used spices in the world! Beyond cooking with it, it is often used in traditional and alternative medicine. Ginger can be used fresh, dried, as a powder, oil, extract or juice. The unique fragrance of ginger comes from its natural oil called gingerol. Gingerol has been extensively studied and studies have found that gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger that provides much of its medicinal properties including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Here are some healthful and interesting benefits of ginger:
1. Ginger can help alleviate nausea.
You can chew on raw ginger or brew warm ginger tea as a home remedy for nausea during cancer treatment, motion sickness or morning sickness during pregnancy. It can also be found in the form of ginger lozenges or candies. Keep in mind that it may help alleviate nausea, but not necessarily prevent vomiting.
2. It helps provide relief to the common cold and flu.
If you have come down with a cold or flu, you might want to try drinking ginger tea by slicing up a few pieces of ginger and soaking it in a cup of hot water. The warmness you will feel after drinking it promotes sweating and works to keep the body from within warm. This is both a simple and amazingly soothing natural remedy for a cold or flu.
3. Take a detox bath with ginger.
By mixing ginger in a bath, it creates a diaphoretic effect, meaning it opens up your pores and promotes sweating, like a sauna. You can use either freshly grated ginger or ginger powder. Add about ½ a cup of ginger in hot or warm water and soak for 15-20 minutes. As you are sweating out the toxins, a ginger bath is also known to help improve the blood circulation, so you may come out more energized (and slightly more flushed). Make sure you drink plenty of water after your bath as you will likely sweat profusely.
4. Ginger can help with indigestion.
Ginger contains phenolic compounds that are known to help relieve gastrointestinal (GI) irritation and stimulate natural fluids such as saliva and bile to help digest and move food and fluid through the GI tract. It also relaxes the smooth muscle in your gut lining and helps speed up emptying of the stomach. Adding ginger to your dietary routine can promote regular digestion and metabolism of your food and contribute to a strong immune system.
5. It can help reduce inflammation and pain.
Gingerol found in ginger provides natural anti-inflammatory effects that has been found to help relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis. It can also be effective in reducing soreness and pain associated with exercise. In addition, ginger may also help reduce the symptoms of dysmenorrhea, the severe pain that some women experience during a menstrual cycle.