Ginger has long been held as a cure-all and for good reason. Studies show that this wonder spice not only alleviates nausea, but is also an anti-inflammatory, can help prevent cancer, helps control blood sugar, and relieves period cramp pain. That's just the tip of the iceberg!
There are a ton of ways to incorporate this natural spice into your diet. One way to make sure you're getting your daily dose of ginger is to steep the root in water to create a tea (with a little lemon and honey to offset the zing). We'll give you the deets on how to make lemon ginger tea at home, but first, let's get to know this herbaceous plant, and its benefits a little bit better.
Ginger (aka Zingiber officinale Roscoe) is a member of the Zingiberaceae family of plants, which includes cardamom and turmeric. In addition to imparting a pungent flavor to foods, it has traditionally been used as herbal medicine to treat common health problems, from colds to cancer. Since antiquity, this medicinal plant's powerful therapeutic and preventive effects have been used all over the world "for a wide array of unrelated ailments that include arthritis, rheumatism, sprains, muscular aches, pains, sore throats, cramps, constipation, indigestion, vomiting, hypertension, dementia, fever, infectious diseases, and helminthiasis" as one review states. Now let's dive into this powerful plant's properties.
Anti-who? "Antiemetic" is a fancy word for something that keeps you from puking. Alleviating symptoms of nausea and vomiting is probably ginger's most well-known benefit. Moms across America know that ginger ale helps with a tummy ache, but did you know that it can help with seasickness, morning sickness, and chemotherapy-induced nausea? Ginger root has been shown to be just as effective as Dramamine against symptoms of motion sickness and just as effective as vitamin B6 at treating morning sickness.
One of the ways our immune system fights off perceived threats is with inflammation. Inflammatory diseases range from allergies to asthma. High doses of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. However, "NSAIDs can increase the risk of developing nausea, an upset stomach, or an ulcer, and may interfere with kidney function" according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Ginger naturally inhibits inflammation. In addition to improving asthmatic symptoms, ginger has been found to significantly reduce symptoms in patients with arthritis-related diseases such as rheumatism and osteoarthritis. OA is one of the world's leading causes of musculoskeletal pain and disability.
Make some lemon ginger tea next time you go a little too hard at the gym—ginger has also been shown to reduce muscle pain after intense physical activity.
Ginger's anti-tumor effect has been shown to be beneficial for colorectal cancer. It contains gingerols, shogaol, and paradols that can prevent various cancers by activating and inactivating various molecular pathways. According to this comprehensive systematic review, it's also been suggested to have "antioxidant and anti-dysmetabolic effects in obese women with breast cancer."
One person on this planet is diagnosed with diabetes every five seconds. Luckily, ginger can also help control this metabolic disorder and its complications via an anti-hyperglycemic effect. Scientists aren't sure how ginger improves diabetes, but it could be due to it's anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. This devastating disorder and its complications pluck a soul from the earth every 10 seconds. However, ginger has shown "prominent protective effects on diabetic liver, kidney, eye, and neural system complications" as this review states.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the US. Ginger has been shown to improve cardiovascular disorders. It decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing cholesterol and improving lipid metabolism. Reports show ginger to be beneficial in lowering obesity-related cardiovascular risk factors such as body fat mass and percentage, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and insulin resistance.
Outdone only by pomegranate and some types of berries, ginger root contains very high levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants balance/neutralize free radicals that can damage macromolecules. Listen, I'm not a doctor. I just know that free radicals are bad and antioxidants are good.
Ginger might help you hang on to your precious neurons. Scientists aren't sure what causes ginger and it's constituents' neuroprotective effect, but it could be due to the phenolic and flavonoids compounds.
Shrugs and sips tea hoping dementia won't come for me.
Ginger is used medically to treat flatulence and colic, but one of the other ways that it improves gastrointestinal health is by preventing ulcers. Since ginger is starting to sound like a wonder spice that's everything nice, I will divulge the one not-so-great thing that ginger can cause: heartburn. In a review of 109 trials, heartburn, a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease, was reported in 16 studies. Now that we have all the facts, let's make some lemon ginger tea!
Boil one cup of water. Peel and slice about two inches of ginger root. (Alternatively, you can grate the ginger instead. The slices are just easier to fish out and/or avoid.) Use as much lemon as you like. Lemons are packed with vitamin C, so you can use anywhere from one wedge to slices of the whole darn thing. Put lemon and ginger in the boiled water and steep for five minutes. Strain, add honey to taste, and serve/sip your way to a healthier you!