The most wonderful time of the year has a few hidden health secrets that I’d love to share with you. Namely – ginger! Almost everyone has ginger in their spice cabinet, but more and more information is coming out that indicates ginger belongs in the medicine cabinet as well. Since ginger is used in many holiday foods, Christmas is the perfect time to reap the benefits of this wonder root. Put some ginger tea on the kettle or chow down on those gingersnaps while you read about some of the great things ginger can do for you.
Ginger combats many types of nausea, including morning sickness and seasickness. Ginger has even been shown to provide relief from nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy. Ginger tea or soup with ginger may be especially soothing to the stomach, versus an option like ginger capsules.
Combats Joint Pain
Research has shown that ginger is effective at fighting joint pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis, which is an extremely common health problem. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger work so well to reduce joint pain that many osteoarthritis patients can reduce the amount of medication required to manage their pain. Another study found that using a topical rub made from ginger, cinnamon, sesame oil and mastic gum works to reduce pain and stiffness in joints.
Fights Stomach Discomfort
Ginger has been known to aid in digestion for quite a long time. In 1814, an English physician named Robert Thornton noted that ginger aids in dyspepsia, so this health benefit of ginger shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. This is why it’s relatively common to recommend ginger ale for an upset stomach.
Eases Menstrual Cramps
As if your cycle wasn’t already miserable, it often comes with the wonderful side effect of cramping. The good news is studies have shown that ginger may be just as effective as ibuprofen for relieving period pain. Steep two tablespoons of ginger root in water for 15 minutes to extract all that gingery goodness, strain and add some lemon or honey before drinking if desired.
Reduces Muscle Pain and Soreness
After a hard workout at the gym, we often find ourselves regretting it the next day when we wake up with aching muscles. Ginger can reduce muscle soreness induced by workouts. However, don’t think you can hit the gym hard and just drink some tea to get rid of that muscle pain. Ginger doesn’t have an immediate impact for muscle aches, and it may take several days of consumption before you begin to notice a difference in your post-Zumba soreness. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger are most likely the reason behind this benefit.
Fights Colds and Flu
Ginger has been used as a natural remedy for combating colds and the flu for thousands of years in Asia. Luckily this remedy has caught on with the rest of the world, too. To fight the symptoms of a cold or the flu, drink “tea” made by steeping two tablespoons of fresh ginger in hot water. Drink two to three times a day while the mixture is warm.
Lowers Blood Sugar
Research shows that ginger may be helpful in lowering blood sugar for individuals with type 2 diabetes. Participants of the study saw a significant drop in blood pressure after eight weeks of taking three grams of ginger in capsule form daily. Researchers still aren’t exactly sure why ginger works to lower blood pressure, but the proof that it does work is out there. Always consult your doctor before starting any kind of new health regimen, especially if you’re taking medications, and be sure to monitor your blood sugar carefully. Those on blood thinners should avoid large doses of ginger, as it can increase the effects of those types of medications and may increase the risk of bleeding.
With all the health benefits ginger can provide, there’s almost no reason not to indulge yourself this holiday season. Drink a ginger beer or two at the Christmas party in the name of health and relax, knowing your body is in good hands.