Ginger has a long history of use in treating several health issues. Many traditional medicinal systems have used it, including those in Indian, Chinese and Arabic cultures. It is the root of the plant Zingiber officianale. Its benefits appear to come from two elements: its volatile oils and phenol compounds.
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If you want to incorporate ginger into your diet, you can do so in several ways. Ginger products come from the fresh or dried root or its oils. You can buy the fresh root, crystallized ginger, powdered ginger or supplements in many forms including capsules, syrups and tinctures. You can eat it in its whole form, make tea and use it as a cooking spice to name a few. The reason for using the ginger will dictate the best form to take it in.
Ginger and the Stomach
One of ginger’s most prevalent uses stems from its calming effects on the stomach. The University of Maryland Medical Center’s review of several studies revealed that it has shown effectiveness for reducing motion sickness, vomiting and nausea in a variety of circumstances including pregnancy, chemotherapy and post-surgery. Well-known physician and integrative medicine expert Dr. Andrew Weil recommends taking 1,000 mg initially and 500 mg every four hours as required or eating two pieces of crystallized ginger or drinking tea every four hours.
If you suffer from arthritis or other inflammatory conditions, adding ginger to your diet might help combat inflammation. It has a long history of use for this purpose but the UMMC notes that it has produced mixed benefits. Weil recommends consuming one to two grams of the powdered form daily for inflammatory conditions. He also promotes a diet low in inflammatory foods for general health as inflammation can lead to a number of health issues so you might consider using ginger regardless as a general health measure.
Weil and the UMMC also recommends brewing ginger tea to deal with chest congestion and other symptoms of colds and flu; peel and grate one inch of fresh ginger for every two cups of water. Once the water begins boiling, lower the heat and let simmer five minutes. Strain the chopped root from the liquid. Ginger might demonstrate anti-cancer and heart protection according to preliminary research, but these uses have not been as well-established. Ginger might also help headaches and menstrual cramps and the tea form will work best.
Ginger has strong oils and compounds that can cause upset stomach. You can reduce this incidence by eating ginger and taking ginger supplements with food. The UMMC advises adults against consuming more than 4,000 mg daily; consult with a practitioner for use in a child.
Do not give ginger to children younger than 2. Do not use ginger if you take blood-thinning medications or blood disorders. You should not use ginger if you have gallstone problems. Possible side effects include heartburn, diarrhea and mouth irritation if taken in too large a dose.