The properties of ginger root have been known for centuries from Confucius to Henry VIII and through to the present day.
“An I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy ginger-bread,”
~ Love’s Labour’s Lost. Act V. Scene I.
The properties of ginger are manifold. Ginger is a valued spice adding fresh and peppery flavour to food, but above all it is a medicinal plant with strong antiviral properties.
The precise origins of ginger are not certain but it is likely to have come from India and Southern Asia where its lush green leaves and flowers of every possible colour adorn the tropical rainforests.
The rich properties of ginger mean that it has been used as medicinal food for centuries to prevent and cure disease and boost longevity. The Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479 BC) apparently consumed ginger root with every meal and stories of the spice medicinal properties soon spread throughout the world.
When the Black Death pandemic hit the shores of England, Henry VIII recommended ginger as an effective treatment against the Ebola-like virus.
Unfortunately in 16th century, a pound of ginger cost as much as a sheep, and only the wealthy were able to afford it!
MS Guardio is writing a series of short articles about the healing properties some plants, flowers and foods at this time of pandemic and national crisis.
Amazing healing properties of ginger
The ginger root contains gingerol and sesquiterpenes oil compounds that have been shown to have numerous and potent medicinal effects. Ginger is:
Antiemetic properties of ginger
Ginger is probably best known for its antiemetic properties. It is useful as a traditional remedy for motion sickness.
Ginger tea can help reduce episodes of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. It may help with uterine cramping, although we do not know of any studies that have specifically researched uterine cramping arising during pregnancy.
Ginger is also beneficial for those undergoing chemotherapy treatment and a 2020 UK-based study looked at ginger and its effects on chemotherapy related nausea in breast cancer patients. The research concluded that ginger was particularly effective in the acute phase of chemotherapy.
Anticancer properties of ginger
Gingerol and sesquiterpenes compounds present in ginger root have strong anti-cancer properties.
While more research is needed, test-tube studies have shown that ginger may help block cancer cell development for ovarian, pancreatic and prostate cancer.
Ginger has also been proven to help treat various gastric conditions, including the loss of appetite in advanced cancer patients.
Arthritis and ginger
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of ginger make it a very helpful remedy in the treatment of arthritis.
A study by University of Miami concluded that ginger has the potential to be a substitute for standard non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) commonly prescribed for pain and inflammation so common in any form of arthritis.
A recent review of research into anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of ginger further confirm that ginger is effective in the treatment of swelling and reduced the chronic inflammation levels in the affected joints of the patients.
Antiviral properties of ginger
Henry VIII might have been right after all advocating ginger as treatment for the Black Death since one of the most impressive medicinal benefits of ginger are its antiviral properties.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has focused the attention of researchers on natural compounds with antiviral potential.
Currently there is no scientific evidence to show that ginger can prevent or cure COVID-19 nor that it can destroy this particular coronavirus. But there is little doubt that the compounds in ginger can interfere with the replication of viruses.
Traditionally ginger has been taken to alleviate the symptoms of common cold and flu. A study looking at common respiratory infections has shown that ginger, and in particular fresh ginger can stimulate cells to fight the virus by blocking the virus from attaching itself to the cells of the host.
Another research looked at the properties of ginger and their effect on a debilitating illness caused by the Chikungunya virus. The virus transmitted in the tropics by mosquitos can cause severe complications and result in blindness. The researchers have concluded that ginger has high potential to treat Chikungunya, but it can be a valuable agent combatting viral resistance to standard drugs.
Gingerol, sesquiterpenes and other compounds active in ginger root also play a significant supportive role in recovery from a viral infection. They do it through boosting the activity of enzymes and increasing appetite.
How to use ginger
Ginger is well know for it many culinary uses in both sweet and savoury dishes. Queen Elizabeth I was a fan of the gingerbread man and employed a royal gingerbread-maker. She held banquets where gingerbread men were formed to represent particular dignitaries.
We know for certain that gingerbread was popular amongst the elite in the Middle Ages.
If you are keen to try a recipe for Medieval Gynger Brede you can look it up here in a 15th century English cookery book held at the British Library.
The medicinal properties of gingerbread are not significant, but it is a fun way to introduce children to the taste of ginger
Most children also like freshly made juice made from carrot, orange, cucumber and a piece of ginger, or ginger tea made with a slice of ginger and lemon sweetened with a teaspoon of honey. It is warming, soothing and a perfect nightcap.
However, if you want to take advantage of the potent antiviral and other medicinal properties of ginger, I recommend ginger in a capsule form. I also use ginger oil which I use in foot baths, and for inhalations, especially when coming down with a cold, or feel run down.
Carefully goes it!
The properties of ginger make it a very safe natural remedy.
However, talk to your doctor if you plan to take ginger in high quantities and you have a bleeding disorder, a heart condition, or you are pregnant.
It is advisable not to take ginger for two weeks before surgery as it may slow blood clotting.
Ginger – Antiviral and a natural healer
Ginger is one of nature’s most powerful healers. The antiviral and other medicinal properties of ginger have been known to traditional medicine practitioners for centuries and are being confirmed by science now. It is versatile, easy to incorporate into our diet, and safe to take.
Some foods are natural antiviral agents
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