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GINGER is a GREAT MEDICINE

Published:Tuesday | July 12, 2011 | 12:00 AM


Jamaican ginger is considered by many to be the best in the world and is used extensively here both as a culinary spice and as a home remedy for a long list of maladies. Many historical references exist regarding the use of ginger in many old societies. Now modern science has isolated the powerful compounds found in ginger, and documented their use in a wide range of health disorders.

Often referred to as ginger root, ginger is a spice that contains potent antioxidants such as gingerols and zingerone. These compounds provide relief for many issues that involve pain, inflammation, digestive disorders, nausea and motion sickness. It is even used topically as an analgesic.

Motion Sickness/morning sickness

Many drugs used to treat nausea or motion sickness have side effects like drowsiness and dry mouth. In several medical studies, ginger has provided significant relief from these problems without the side effects.

One of the most popular uses of ginger is for the morning sickness that accompanies pregnancy. Researchers have tested this folk remedy on a group of pregnant women who took 125mg of ginger extract four times a day for four days. The ginger significantly reduced their symptoms of morning sickness.

Inflammation

Ginger is also an effective anti-inflammatory herb that has been used for arthritis and rheumatism. Ginger contains ultra-potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols, which are what many scientists believe are responsible for its ability to reduce inflammation. This anti-inflammatory benefit is particularly useful for musculo-skeletal and joint pain. One recent study found that all of a group of patients with muscular discomfort experienced relief of pain or swelling when they consumed ginger on a daily basis.

In another study published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, patients with severe arthritis in the knee took either a placebo pill or a ginger extract. The patients using the ginger reported greater improvements in pain and joint mobility.

Cancer

One of ginger's most promising benefits may be in the fight against ovarian cancer. At the last Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, doctors from the University of Michigan demonstrated gingerol's ability to kill ovarian cancer cells. The team showed that exposure to a ginger extract caused death in all ovarian cancer cells studied. While cancer cells often become resistant to some chemotherapy drugs after repeated use, these cells showed no sign of becoming resistant to the cancer-fighting properties of ginger. The researchers also provided evidence indicating that the regular use of ginger may have a protective effect against colon cancer.

Side effects of Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy-induced nausea is a type of stomach disturbance that occurs after the administration of chemotherapy drugs for cancer. Many patients have this awful side effect, involving vomiting, dry heaving, and overall sickness. Breast-cancer patients who took ginger capsules, the equivalent of a quarter teaspoon to half a teaspoon of purified ginger extract, for three days prior to and for three days after chemotherapy treatment, showed a significant reduction in nausea and vomiting. High protein meals offer some protection against this problem, and doctors at Siena College in New York studying cancer patients taking chemotherapy, found that high-protein shakes with ginger produced significantly fewer instances of nausea and stomach upset. I recommend protein meal replacement shakes with ginger tea for this problem.

Using Ginger

Ginger can be used in many forms: as ginger extract in tablet form or powder, as a tea, as fresh or dried ginger root or topically as a pack or poultice. If you use ginger as a natural remedy, in general, your ginger intake should not exceed four grams daily.Use fresh ginger over dried ginger when possible to benefit from the higher gingerol content. Fresh ginger root should be firm, smooth, and free from bruises. The centre of the ginger root is the most potent. Unpeeled fresh ginger can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Dried ginger should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a dry, cool, and dark place.

You may email Dr Tony Vendryes at tonyvendryes@gmail.com, or listen to An Ounce of Prevention on POWER 106FM on Fridays at 8 p.m.