Ease aching muscles with ginger
Prized by chefs for its tangy, refreshing flavor and utilized in cuisines around the globe, ginger is a sure way to add a little “zing” to recipes. Even its scientific name - Zingiber officinale – has a zing to it! And, ginger’s usefulness isn’t confined to just the kitchen.
For centuries, ginger root has been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing systems as a trusted remedy for a variety of ailments, including digestive problems, colds and fungal infections. Now, an intriguing new study backs up ginger’s pain-relieving properties – and reveals why ginger might be “just the ticket” for relieving post-workout muscle pain.
Looking for a natural alternative to toxic medications?
As it turns out, ginger is packed with active compounds such as gingerols, shogaols, and zingerone. Research has shown that these inhibit the activity of the pro-inflammatory enzymes COX-1 and COX-2, which are major culprits in promoting inflammation and pain.
In fact, scientists credit ginger with pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects similar to that of NSAID medications.
In a study conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia and published in The Journal of Pain, volunteers took either 2 grams of ginger a day for 11 days, or a placebo. Towards the end of the study, participants were asked to perform a series of elbow flexor exercises intended to cause moderate muscle injury.
Three days later, the team evaluated the participants’ range of motion and their levels of pain, inflammation and swelling. And, the result was clear. Daily ginger consumption, the researchers concluded, caused “moderate-to-large” reductions in muscle pain.
Separate studies have shown that ginger reduces menstrual pain as well. In some studies, ginger seemed to work as well as ibuprofen, a pharmaceutical pain-reliever!
Ginger has also been found to reduce hip and knee pain in osteoarthritis patients.
Discover a time-honored remedy for nausea
Ginger has traditionally been used to relieve indigestion, nausea, vomiting, bloating and constipation – with sound scientific basis. With strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, ginger protects the gastrointestinal tract, promotes efficient digestion, and speeds the elimination of waste.
In studies, dosages of one or two grams of ginger were shown to effectively reduce post-operative vomiting and motion sickness-related vomiting. In one trial, ginger helped to ease nausea in children and young adults undergoing chemotherapy.
Researchers have also praised ginger as a safe and effective treatment for morning sickness.
Good to know: With strong antimicrobial properties, ginger is active against the H. pylori bacteria, a common cause of stomach ulcers and digestive problems.
Ginger helps to protect against several life-threatening diseases
Ginger may even act against heart disease and cancer, the Number One and Number Two causes of death in the nation.
In one review, 5 grams of ginger a day had significant antiplatelet activity, meaning it reduced the “stickiness” of platelets that allows blood to form into dangerous clots. Other studies have shown that ginger reduces harmful LDL cholesterol while increasing levels of heart-healthy HDL cholesterol.
While more research is needed, it’s clear that ginger has beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system.
In addition, ginger contains phenolic compounds called gingerols. These have been shown in laboratory studies to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Access the zesty benefits of ginger
Ginger is available in the form of fresh ginger root, as well as in dried, powdered form. Ginger may also be candied and even pickled - with the latter commonly served with sushi as a palate cleanser.
There are a variety of delicious ways to use ginger (aside from the time-honored gingerbread).
You can add ginger juice to smoothies, grate fresh ginger over salads or vegetables, or use fresh or powdered ginger to add zip to stews, marinades and dressings. You can also make a stomach-soothing ginger tea by thinly slicing two inches of fresh ginger root and boiling it for 20 minutes, then straining and cooling.
Ginger in amounts found in foods is generally recognized as safe. However, if you intend to supplement with ginger extracts or capsules, check first with your integrative doctor.
Ultimately, whether you use ginger to alleviate pain, soothe digestive problems or promote overall health, this spicy herb has plenty to offer.
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