Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a plant with leafy stems and yellowish-green flowers. The ginger spice comes from the roots of the plant. Ginger being among the healthiest (and most delicious) spices on the planet aren’t new. Its health benefits have been explored for centuries. The root or underground stem (rhizome) of the ginger plant can be consumed fresh, powdered, dried as a spice or in oil form. Ginger is part of the Zingiberaceae family, alongside cardamom and turmeric.
It is available fresh and dried, as ginger extract and ginger oil, and in tinctures, capsules, and lozenges. Foods that contain ginger include gingerbread, cookies, ginger snaps, ginger ale, and a wide variety of savory recipes.
Two varieties of ginger are popularly grown in Nigeria at present. These are yellow ginger (Taffin giwa) and Black ginger (“Yaltsun biri). These are highly rated for their oil and oleoresin. Ginger has a history in Nigerian cookery. It has for long been used in Zobo a.k.a. Zoborodo drink, Kunu drink, Tomato stew, Jollof rice, etc. Ground and dried ginger are used to bake cakes, cookies, etc. Whereas, fresh ginger is used in cooked dishes, soups, teas, etc. Fresh ginger has a more pungent and sharp spicy flavor. When cooked, its taste is mellow and with a woody flavor. Some believe that dried ginger tends to be hotter than fresh ginger.
Benefits of Ginger:
1. It aids Digestion
The phenolic compounds in ginger are known to help relieve gastrointestinally (GI) irritation, stimulate saliva and bile production, and suppress gastric contractions as food and fluids move through the GI tract. At the same time, ginger also appears to have beneficial effects on the enzymes trypsin and pancreatic lipase and to increase motility through the digestive tract. This suggests ginger could help prevent colon cancer and constipation.
2. It aids menstrual pain relief
Ginger has been found to reduce the symptoms of dysmenorrhea, the severe pain that some women experience during a menstrual cycle. Out of all of the research done on ginger’s pain-relieving properties, results show it helps with menstrual pain the most. However, if you usually take acetaminophen or ibuprofen, it may not work as well. Check with your doctor before trying any supplement in extract or pill form, since it may interact with other medications you’re taking.
3. It helps to relief Nausea
Chewing raw ginger or drinking ginger tea is a common home remedy for nausea during cancer treatment. Ginger is safe to use during pregnancy, to relieve nausea. It is available in the form of ginger lozenges or candies. Symptoms associated with motion sicknesses such as dizziness, vomiting, nausea, and cold sweating are usually reduced by ginger root. However, there is a note of caution for pregnant women as some studies indicate that it may cause harm to the fetus or increase the mother’s risk of bleeding.
4. It is a Powerful Cancer fighter
Ginger can treat serious health conditions such as ovarian cancer. Research shows that ginger is associated with inhibiting the progression of colorectal cancer cells. The statistic shows that those consuming ginger root had lower levels of colon inflammation and inflammation of the intestines, thus reducing the risk of colon cancer. Ginger is believed to outperform some cancer drugs. Studies indicate that prostate tumor size in mice was observed to be 56% reduced by the whole ginger extract.
The cell-protecting properties of ginger can lower the long-term risk of certain cancers. That’s because the spice and other flavorings may reduce cellular activity that causes DNA changes, cell death, and proliferation of cancer cells. It could also help sensitize tumors to treatments like chemo and radiation. While ginger’s not a cure-all for any chronic disease, using it regularly with loads of other spices and plant-based foods can help benefit health overall.
5. Aids Cold and flu relief
During cold weather, drinking ginger tea is a good way to keep warm. It is diaphoretic, which means that it promotes sweating, working to warm the body from within. Adding a slice of lemon or a drop of honey to your ginger tea adds flavor and additional benefits, including vitamin C and antibacterial properties, this makes a soothing natural remedy for a cold or flu.
6. Serves as an Anti-inflammation agent
Ginger contains gingerols which are very potent anti-inflammatory compounds. Many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reduced pain and improvements in flexibility when they take in ginger daily. The formations of inflammatory cytokines which are chemical messengers of the immune system are hindered by gingerols.
Like other produce, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains, ginger contains antioxidant-like compounds called phytonutrients that may reduce cell damage. The root can also prevent inflammation from starting by reducing cell-signaling activity. Ginger has been used for centuries to reduce inflammation and treat inflammatory conditions. It has also been found to be “modestly efficacious and reasonably safe” for treating inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.
7. It can settle an upset stomach
The idea that ginger can help with some light tummy trouble isn’t new. Research has linked multiple digestive benefits to ginger, specifically acting on parts responsible for feelings of stomach upset and vomiting. It helps move food from the stomach to the small intestine for digestion and absorption.
8. Good for General health
Other possible uses include reducing cholesterol, lowering the risk of blood clotting, and helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. More research is needed, but if proven, ginger could become part of a treatment for heart disease and diabetes. It may help prevent heart disease. The same anti-inflammatory compounds in ginger can also reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Other Benefits of ginger include:
- Ginger helps in motion sickness (Motion sickness is a sensation of wooziness. It usually occurs when you’re traveling by car, boat, plane, or train).
- It helps in pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting.
- In foods and beverages, ginger is used as a flavoring agent.
- In manufacturing, ginger is used for fragrance in soaps and cosmetics.
- Some people pour fresh juice on their skin to treat burns. The oil made from ginger is sometimes applied to the skin to relieve pain. Ginger extract is also applied to the skin to prevent insect bites.
- Other uses include pain relief from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis, menstrual pain, and other conditions. However, there is not strong evidence to support the use of ginger for these conditions.
- One of the chemicals in ginger is also used as an ingredient in laxative, anti-gas, and antacid medications.
- Ginger may help reduce symptoms of morning sickness.
Scientists note that many of the compounds in ginger have not been fully investigated, and not all of the claims for ginger have been supported by research. However, many of those that have been studied appear to show promise for medicinal purposes.