Ginger has been used for its health benefits for many years and is a favorite medicinal as well as culinary herb. Unlike most spices, the part that has the most medicinal value grows under ground. Often mistakenly called “ginger root” this is actually the rhizome of the plant which is more of a subterranean stem than a root.
Although you can use dried ginger and powdered ginger for health benefits, fresh ginger is preferred. It is readily available in most supermarkets. Pieces of the rhizome can be sliced off for use and the remainder stored in the refrigerator where it should keep for about 3 weeks as long as it is not fully peeled.
One of ginger’s most touted health benefits is its ameliorating effects on digestive ailments. It can help digest fatty foods and break down proteins. It is excellent for reducing gas. Many people report that it will also relieve nausea, and can be effective in treating morning sickness as well as motion sickness.
Ginger can also help reduce inflammation. So it can be used to treat any disease that is caused by inflammations such as arthritis or ulcerative colitis. Some studies show that it can even help inhibit the replication of the herpes simplex virus.
Being a warming herb, ginger can help knock out a fever. This property also makes it effective in stimulating circulation of the blood. It can also help relax muscles around the blood vessels and is said to help prevent blood clots from forming. The warming effects make it a natural decongestant as well as an antihistamine, making it the perfect remedy for colds.
Recent studies show that ginger might also have a role in lowering LDL cholesterol because the spice can help reduce the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed. It’s use has also proven to help slow or even prevent cancerous tumor growth.
Gingers healing properties (and heat) come from it’s volatile oils, gingerols and shogaols, which are also responsible for it’s pungent taste. The oils cause more digestive enzymes to be produced which helps with the whole digestion process and neutralizes the acids that can cause nausea, cramps and even diarrhea.
To discover the health benefits of ginger for yourself, simply make a tea by steeping about 5 slices of ginger in hot water. If you prefer it in your food, ginger is excellent in many dishes and is perfect when combined with garlic.
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