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Ginger Natures warming healer

Ginger: Nature’s warming healer

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The humble ginger root has a lot to offer, not just in flavour but in healing properties, too. Find out how you may benefit from nature’s warming healer. By naturopath Kathryn Terrill.

It’s accessible in every supermarket and fruit and vegetable store, and it makes a tasty dish to warm your tummy and your soul, but there is more to this humble root than meets the eye.

Confucius knew it, as did traders in 13th and 14th century England. One pound of ginger was worth one sheep! It was valued both as a food and as a medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) still holds this humble root in high esteem.

So what is it that makes ginger so special? Modern researchers put its therapeutic power down to a group of compounds called oleoresin. This mix of phytoconstituents (or plant-based compounds) is made up of an essential oil and a resin, which also give ginger its distinct aroma.

Ginger has a particularly strong action on the gastrointestinal tract. One of its main actions is to reduce nausea. It also helps to relieve spasm in the smooth muscle of the digestive tract, and it has antioxidant activity. Traditional uses for ginger include to stimulate appetite, reduce flatulence, and to act as a general digestive aid.

Ginger stimulates the flow of saliva, bile and other gastric secretions. It may also decrease the amount of time it takes for food to leave your stomach, and it may help to prevent stomach ulcers. This may be partly due to ginger’s ability to inhibit Helicobacter pylori, which is a causative factor in stomach ulcers. The positive digestive tract effects do not stop there. Preliminary research shows that ginger has a liver protective action, possibly due to its antioxidant effects.

Ginger’s anti-nausea action makes it an excellent remedy for use in morning sickness. There are a multitude of studies that support its safe and effective use during pregnancy. There is also evidence that ginger is effective in treating nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness and in helping to prevent postoperative nausea.

Other conditions where the use of ginger may be effective include period pain, musculoskeletal disorders (due to its anti-inflammatory effects), and migraine.

References available on request