by Mary Conley
Principal Actions Of GingerAdaptogenic Antioxidant
Antitoxic Bioavailability enhancement
Cytoprotection Eicosanoid balance
Enzyme activity Probiotic support
Serotonergic Systemic stimulant
Analgesic Antibacterial Anticarthartic
Antidiabetic Antiemetic Antifungal
Anthelmintic Anti-inflammatory Antimutagenic
Antithrombic Antitumor Antitussive
Antiulcer Antiviral Hypocholesteremic
Immune supportive Thermoregulatory
It is virtually impossible to define and explain all of this plant's complex actions and their effects. The above list is by no means a complete listing, just some of the more intense properties.
To take an example of one of the complexities of ginger: zingibain, one of ginger's constituents, improves digestion and contributes to antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. It can also enhance other antibacterials such as antibiotics by up to 50%. It also digests parasites and their eggs.
One of ginger's most valuable effects is its ability to reduce inflammation by neutralizing free radicals which contribute to inflammation.
It is also an important antioxidant with more than 12 constituents superior to vitamin C.
A wide variety of conditions are helped by this plant.
Arthritis - working similar to aspirin, ginger reduces inflammatory eicosanoids without the side effects of other anti-inflammatory drugs and NSAIDS.
Heart and circulatory problems - thromboxans are a major cause of clogged arteries. While many doctors today recommend a daily intake of aspirin to remedy this build-up, a group of Cornell Medical School researchers found ginger to be as effective as aspirin. (See N.E. Journal of Medicine, 1980). Numerous studies have supportedthis finding since 1980. In addition, it was found that ginger's antioxidant constituents strengthened the cardiac muscle, while studies in Japan and India have shown that ginger lowers serum cholesterol levels by interfering with cholesterol biosynthesis.
Fever reducer - because of its remarkable thermoregulatory properties, ginger can assist in lowering a fever. It is also helpful in alleviating chills caused by colds as it warms the body. Its antibacterial/antiviral effects help reduce the incidence of colds altogether.
Ulcers - drugs on the market today include a class called H-2 receptor antagonists (pepcid, Zantac, Tagamet, and Cimetidine). Research compared ginger to Cimetidine and found they both reduced irritation to the digestive tract. The drugs only suppressed the problem. Ginger has a balancing ability which allows it to protect while it stimulates and inhibits toxic bacteria while allowing friendly bacteria to grow. It can assist in a variety of eliminative functions.
Anti-nauseant - ginger is best known for its ability to treat nausea and is being used more frequently in the travel industry. It is beginning to be used to combat the nausea and vomiting occurring with chemotherapy, pregnancy, and post operative conditions.
Carrier herb - a carrier herb is one that can enhance the absorption of other herbs. By its presence another herb can be made more effective. Ginger is one of the best carrier herbs around. Studies have shown that it may assist digestive absorption by up to 200%.
Further research is looking into ginger's anti-cancer properties, and immune enhancement properties.
Parts of the Plant Used
Traditional Chinese Medicine considers the four different forms of ginger: fresh, dried, roasted, and steamed each be used for their own separate purposes. The fresh rhizome is good for hot compresses, a culinary spice and medicinal tea. Fresh ginger can be added to juices, soups and stews, and candied ginger is a wonderful confection. The root can be ground up and added to many different recipies.
A honey-based syrup acts synergistically by broadening ginger's antibacterial, antifungal properties. It can be taken as a health tonic or a cold syrup.
Recipe for Honey-Ginger Syrup
Add 1 part fresh ginger (grated or juiced) to 3 parts honey. Add 1 teaspoon per cup of hot water for colds, or mix with carbonated water to make your own gingerale. Store in refrig during winter for the cold and flu season.
The main cultivation of ginger takes place in zone 9. In cold-winter areas it must be grown indoors; as potted plants but they rarely bloom in winter. However, they do grow until they can be set outside in the spring.
They can be propsgated from a small piece of the fresh rhizome that has at least one eye (sort of like the potato eye). Fill a small pot with professional potting soil and plant the root on its side parallel to the soil surface. Just barely cover the root with potting soil and pat down. Keep in a warm place until green stalks come from the eye. Transplant into a large pot filled with equal amounts of loam, sand, peat moss or compost. Fertilize and water regularly. Outdoors it likes a partially shaded location, and to be moved indoors before the first frost.
This fragrant, lovely plant has given us much over the centuries. It is one of the most complex and complete medicinals favored by herbalists today. Research has shown our knowledge of its healing properties growing with each new study. Certainly a gift from a bountiful Creator.
Shulick, Paul. Ginger, Common Spiceand Wonder Drug, Vermont: Herbal Free Press, Ltd., 1996.
Williams, Jude, MH. Jude's Herbal Home Remedies, Minn: Llewellyn Publ., 1994.
McIntyre, Anne. The Complete Woman's Herbal, New York: Henry Holt, 1995.
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