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Subheshaja(सुभेषज): Add Some Zing to Your Health with Ginger

“Hey, Preethi, how come you are buying so much ginger today?” asked Dr. Radha

“Oh, hi Radha Aunty! My mother is having a sore throat, and it seems drinking ginger tea will make her feel better. I don’t know why she can’t drink some syrup like normal people do!”

“But she’s perfectly right, Preethi! Have you noticed the typical pungent smell when you cut fresh ginger? Well, that smell is because of a group of compounds called gingerols which are present in the ginger. Of these, the most important one is 6-gingerol. Do you know that research shows it has strong anti-inflammatory action?”

“But how is that related to a sore throat?”

“I’ll give you a hint. A sore throat is nothing but inflammation or swelling in the throat that causes an itchy sensation or outright pain. Now, can you guess?”

“Ok, so the 6-gingerol in ginger will reduce the swelling and give relief from the sore throat?”

“Absolutely! But there are other benefits too. The ingredients in ginger have been found to have anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects. Studies have shown that fresh ginger acts against the respiratory synctial virus which causes respiratory viral infections in humans. (1)

“Besides, ginger also improves immunity. So, if your mother starts drinking ginger tea at the first sign of a sore throat, she will recover faster and the situation will not aggravate into a throat infection.”

“I see. But Aunty, last month we went on a trip to Nandi Hills, and when I started feeling a vomiting sensation, my mother made me suck on a small piece of ginger. What’s that all about?”

“Preethi, for ages, ginger has been used to deal with nausea – which is a fancy word for the vomiting sensation you mentioned. Ginger is also proving to be an effective remedy for morning sickness in pregnant women. (2) Do you know what I’m talking about?”

“Yes, I think I do. My cousin Lata had come home last week. She’s in her second month of pregnancy. When she complained of a vomiting sensation in the morning, my mother made this same ginger tea for her and Lata said she felt much better.”

“Right! Ginger tea is good for morning sickness during the first three months (first trimester) of pregnancy. But it’s important not to overdo it. You must not take more than 1 gram of ginger in a day. Also, ginger is not advisable later in the pregnancy because it may increase bleeding risk. Pregnant women who have had miscarriage before must also avoid taking ginger.”

“Does ginger have any other benefits too, Aunty?”

“Oh yes, Preethi. Researchers have found that ginger helps to reduce blood glucose levels. It also reduces the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and increases the level of ‘good’ cholesterol. And I already told you about ginger’s anti-inflammatory property, right? Some researchers evaluated the effect of ginger on patients who had knee pain due to the condition called osteoarthritis and guess what they found?  (3), (4), (5)

“That people who consumed ginger said their knee pain reduced? Ok, that must have been because the 6-gingerol brought down the swelling in the knee joint.”

“Exactly! With so many benefits, it’s important to include ginger in the food we cook.”

“My mother uses it all the time!”

“Yes, that’s good. In Ayurveda, ginger is said to improve the digestive power. Several studies have proved the truth of this. Ginger has been found to expel gas, prevent bloating and flatulence and it also reduces cramping of the intestines.” (6)

“Oh! I forgot! My mother asked me to buy honey, too, for making her ginger tea!”

“That’s a great combination, Preethi! Honey has antimicrobial properties, so it will add to ginger’s effect. Besides, the sweetness of honey will counter the spiciness of the ginger and make the tea more soothing and palatable. Tell your mother that she can add in some Tulsi leaves too while making the tea. It will give her a good relief. ”

“Aunty, I thought Tulsi was only used while doing pooja! Don’t tell me it has some medicinal value, too!”

“Of course it does, Preethi! By now you should have realized that most things that we Indians use have some or the other health benefit! But let’s talk about it some other day, my throat has started to feel sore now after talking for so long!”

“Ok, Aunty! Maybe you should make yourself some ginger tea, too!”

References:

  1. Chang JS, Wang KC, Yeh CF, Shieh DE, Chiang LC. Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013;145(1):146-151. Available online at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23123794/
  2. Lete I, Allué J. The Effectiveness of Ginger in the Prevention of Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy and Chemotherapy. Integr Med Insights. 2016;11:11-17. Available online at:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4818021/
  3. Khandouzi N, Shidfar F, Rajab A, Rahideh T, Hosseini P, Mir Taheri M. The effects of ginger on fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin a1c, apolipoprotein B, apolipoprotein a-I and malondialdehyde in type 2 diabetic patients. Iran J Pharm Res. 2015;14(1):131-140. Available online at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4277626/
  4. Alizadeh-Navaei R, Roozbeh F, Saravi M, Pouramir M, Jalali F, Moghadamnia AA. Investigation of the effect of ginger on the lipid levels. A double blind controlled clinical trial. Saudi Med J. 2008;29(9):1280-1284. Available online at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18813412/
  5. Altman RD, Marcussen KC. Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2001;44(11):2531-2538. Available online at:
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11710709/
  6. Nikkhah Bodagh M, Maleki I, Hekmatdoost A. Ginger in gastrointestinal disorders: A systematic review of clinical trials. Food Sci Nutr. 2018;7(1):96-108. Available online at:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6341159/

Disclaimer: The article is not a medical prescription. It is only for information. The opinion expressed are of the author.

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