Ginger: A cure for several ills

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Ginger or adrak as we know it is a universal cure for several problems. Here are some of its properties.

The good old ginger, the mother nature cure for several illness, is being discovered just like garlic. Ginger, according to Ayurveda literature is heat causing or tamasic food like garlic, and onion. In fact, studies measuring body temperature and metabolic rate have confirmed the traditional belief that ginger generates ushma or heat in the body.  

Adrak or ginger is a perennial plant. The rhizome (the underground stem) is used. Traditional Chinese medicine has recommended ginger for over 2,500 years. It is used for abdominal bloating, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and rheumatism. Ginger is commonly used in the Ayurvedic and Tibbia systems of medicine for the treatment of inflammatory joint diseases, such as arthritis.

The dried rhizome of ginger contains approximately 1-4 percent volatile oils. These are the medically active constituents of ginger; as well, they are responsible for ginger’s characteristic odor and taste. The aromatic principles include zingiberene and bisabolene, while the pungent principles are known as gingerols and shogaols. The pungent constituents are credited with the anti-nausea and anti-vomiting effects of ginger.

Ginger is a classic tonic for the digestive tract. (Soak one teaspoon of freshly grated ginger in a cup of boiling water. Keep it for 10 minutes and drink warm).

Classified as an aromatic bitter, it stimulates digestion. It also keeps the intestinal muscles toned. This action eases the transport of substances through the digestive tract, lessening irritation to the intestinal walls.

Had a bad day? Want to freshen up? Make a ginger drink. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger into a cup of hot water and add 2 teaspoons of honey to make a pleasant drink.

For cold and cough ginger is affective too. Take dry ginger, grate it, warm it up in ghee, let it cool, and add gur and eat. You will feel the difference.
Ginger may protect the stomach from the damaging effect of alcohol and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) and may help prevent ulcers. Anti-nausea/anti-vomiting actions: Research is inconclusive as to how ginger acts to alleviate nausea. Ginger may act directly on the gastrointestinal system or it may affect the part of the central nervous system that causes nausea. It may be that ginger exerts a dual effect in reducing nausea and vomiting.

Interestingly, some studies have found that when ginger paste was applied on the abdomen of women with breech babies, it could correct the foetal position to a normal one in 75 percent (as compared to a spontaneous conversion rate of 54 percent).

Ginger also supports a healthy cardiovascular system. Like garlic, ginger makes blood platelets less sticky and less likely to aggregate, although not all human research has confirmed this. This action reduces a major risk factor for atherosclerosis. Besides, it is supportive in conditions namely chemotherapy support, menstruation, painful (dysmenorrheal), migraine headaches morning sickness, motion sickness, nausea and vomiting following surgery, rheumatoid arthritis etc. Nothing conclusive can be said about the curative or supportive aspects of ginger for it has yet to generate as much curiosity as garlic has created in the medical fraternity.

Most people take 2-4 grams of the dried rhizome powder two to three times a day or a tincture of 1.5-3 ml three times daily. For treatment of nausea, people try single doses of approximately 250 mg every two to three hours, for a total of 1 gram per day. For prevention of motion sickness, many people start taking ginger tablets, capsules, or liquid herbal extract two days before the planned trip. Given to 80 naval cadets at sea, the ginger juice was very effective.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

Side effects of ginger are rare when used as recommended. However, some people may be sensitive to the taste or may experience heartburn.
Persons with a history of gallstones should consult a nutritionally oriented doctor before using ginger. Short-term use of ginger for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy appears to pose no safety problems; however, long-term use during pregnancy is not recommended.

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