Ginger – Something Healthy and Different to Grow and Use

Ginger – that amazingly ‘hot’ and fragrant root, easily used in both sweet and savoury recipes, is a healthy plant to grow.  I’m doing it this year, however, it is a tropical plant and needs lots of humidity, in-direct sunlight and warmth.

You can grow Ginger from the roots you buy at the store, provided they are fresh and have ‘rhizomes’ or little bumps that are looking like they are trying to break through.  This will assure you growth, like you see in the picture below.

An underground stem, or rhizome, of the plant Zingiber officinale – has been used as a medicine in Asian, Indian, and Arabic herbal traditions since ancient times. In China, for example, ginger has been used to help digestion and treat stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea for more than 2,000 years. Ginger has also been used to help treat arthritis, colic, diarrhea, and heart conditions.

In addition to being used as a medicine, ginger is used throughout the world as an important cooking spice. It also has been used to help treat the common cold, flu-like symptoms, headaches, and painful menstrual periods.

Ginger is native to Asia where it has been used as a cooking spice for at least 4,400 years.

Plant Description:

Ginger is a knotted, thick, beige underground stem, called a rhizome. The stem sticks up about 12 inches above ground with long, narrow, ribbed, green leaves, and white or yellowish-green flowers.

What’s It Made Of?:

The important active components of the ginger root are thought to be volatile oils and pungent phenol compounds (such as gingerols and shogaols).

Medicinal Uses and Indications:

Today, health care professionals may recommend ginger to help prevent or treat nausea and vomiting from motion sickness, pregnancy, and cancer chemotherapy. It is also used as a digestive aid for mild stomach upset, to reduce pain of osteoarthritis, and may even be used in heart disease or cancer.

Motion Sickness

Several studies suggest that ginger may work better than placebo in reducing some symptoms of motion sickness. In one trial of 80 new sailors who were prone to motion sickness, those who took powdered ginger had less vomiting and cold sweating compared to those who took placebo. Ginger did not reduce nausea, however. Similar results were found in a study with healthy volunteers.

However, other studies have found that ginger does not work as well as medications in reducing symptoms of motion sickness. In one small study, participants were given either fresh root or powdered ginger, scopolamine, a medication commonly prescribed for motion sickness, or placebo. Those who took scopolamine had fewer symptoms than those who took ginger. Conventional prescription and over-the-counter medicines that decrease nausea may also have side effects, such as dry mouth and drowsiness.

Pregnancy-Related Nausea and Vomiting
Human studies suggests that 1g daily of ginger may be effective for nausea and vomiting in pregnant women when used for short periods (no longer than 4 days). Several studies have found that ginger is better than placebo in relieving morning sickness.

In a small study of 30 pregnant women with severe vomiting, those who took 1 gram of ginger every day for 4 days reported more relief from vomiting than those who took placebo. In a larger study of 70 pregnant women with nausea and vomiting, those who received a similar dosage of ginger felt less nauseous and did not vomit as much as those who received placebo. Pregnant women should ask their doctor before taking ginger, and should be careful not take more than 1g per day.

Chemotherapy nausea

A few studies suggest that ginger reduces the severity and duration of nausea — but not vomiting — during chemotherapy. However, one of the studies used ginger in combination with another anti-nausea drug, so it’ s hard to say whether ginger had any effect. More studies are needed.

Nausea and vomiting after surgery

Research is mixed as to whether ginger can help reduce nausea and vomiting following surgery. Two studies found that 1g of ginger root before surgery reduced nausea as well as a leading medication. In one of these studies, women who received ginger also needed fewer medications for nausea after surgery. But other studies have found that ginger didn’ t help reduce nausea. In fact, one study found that ginger may actually increase vomiting following surgery. More research is needed.

Osteoarthritis

Ginger extract has long been used in traditional medical practices to reduce inflammation. And there is some evidence that ginger may help reduce pain from osteoarthritis (OA). In a study of 261 people with OA of the knee, those who took a ginger extract twice daily had less pain and needed fewer pain-killing medications than those who received placebo. But another study found that ginger was no better than ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or placebo in reducing symptoms of OA. It may take several weeks to see any effect.

Other uses

  • A few preliminary studies suggest that ginger may lower cholesterol and help prevent blood from clotting. That can be helpful in treating heart disease, where blood vessels can become blocked and lead to heart attack or stroke. But more studies are needed to know whether ginger is safe or effective for heart disease.
  • Laboratory studies have also found that some substances in ginger may kill cancer cells in test tubes. More research is needed to know if ginger would have the same effect in humans.

Available Forms:

Ginger products are made from fresh or dried ginger root, or from steam distillation of the oil in the root. The herb is available in extracts, tinctures, capsules, and oils. Fresh ginger root can also be purchased and prepared as a tea. Ginger is also a common cooking spice and can be found in a variety of foods and drinks, including ginger bread, ginger snaps, ginger sticks, and ginger ale.

How to Take It:

Pediatric

Don’ t give ginger to children under 2.

Ginger may be used by children over 2 years of age to treat nausea, stomach cramping, and headaches. Ask your doctor to help you determine the right dose.

Adult

In general, don’ t take more than 4g of ginger per day, including food sources. Pregnant women should not take more than 1g per day.

  • Standardized dose: Take 75 – 2,000 mg in divided doses with food, standardized to contain 4% volatile oils or 5% total pungent compounds including 6-gingerol or 6-shogaol.
  • For nausea, gas, or indigestion: 2 – 4 grams of fresh root daily (0.25 – 1.0 g of powdered root) or 1.5 – 3.0 mL (30 – 90 drops) liquid extract daily. To prevent vomiting, take 1 gram of powdered ginger (1/2 tsp) or its equivalent, every 4 hours as needed (not to exceed 4 doses daily), or 2 ginger capsules (1 gram), 3 times daily. You may also chew a 1/4 oz piece of fresh ginger when needed.
  • For pregnancy-induced vomiting, use 250 mg 4 times daily for up to 4 days. Talk to your doctor before taking ginger.
  • For arthritis pain: 250 mg 4 times daily.

Precautions:

The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, contain components that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a health care provider qualified in the field of botanical medicine.

Side effects from ginger are rare, but if taken in high doses the herb may cause mild heartburn, diarrhea, and irritation of the mouth. You may be able to avoid some of the mild stomach side effects, such as belching, heartburn, or stomach upset, by taking ginger supplements in capsules.

People with gallstones should ask their doctor before taking ginger. Make sure to tell your doctor if you are taking ginger and will be having surgery or placed under anesthesia for any reason.

People with heart conditions and people with diabetes should not take ginger without asking their doctors.

Pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding should talk to their doctor before taking ginger.

Do not take ginger if you have a bleeding disorder or if you are taking blood-thinning medications, including aspirin.

Possible Interactions:

Ginger may alter the effects of some prescription and nonprescription medications. If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use ginger without first talking to your health care provider.

Blood-thinning medications – Ginger may increase the risk of bleeding. Talk to your doctor before taking ginger if you take blood-thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) or aspirin.

Diabetes medications – Ginger may lower blood sugar, raising the risk of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

High blood pressure medications – Ginger may lower blood pressure, raising the risk of low blood pressure or irregular heartbeat.

Alternative Names:

African ginger; Black ginger; Jamaican ginger; Zingiber officinale

Great Recipe … for Ginger Ice-Tea

Make a compote out of older fruit like apples & pears (getting bruised).

About a ginger root, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, cup of water, one squeezed lemon, some vanilla, 1/8-1/4 cup of sugar and the fruit.

Simmer for about 1 hour or until fruit gets very soft.

Pour through a strainer with teeny tiny holes.

Voila.  Add the syrup to your favourite ice-tea. Makes for a deliciously different flavour of tea.

Hope you enjoy this information.

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4 responses to “Ginger – Something Healthy and Different to Grow and Use

  1. Great post. Coincidentally, I’ve got a ginger root I bought at the store two weeks ago waiting patiently for me to plant it. The grocery can be an awesome place to find plants to start.

      • This will be my second time growing it from store bought ginger. The last time I just potted it up, and it grew 2 feet tall! I’ll be interested to hear how yours turns out.

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