As a westerner in the 21st century, the herb ginger probably doesn’t play much of a role in your life. Maybe you like it as a palate cleanser with your sushi or as a flavoring for Christmas cookies. But throughout much of history, and even now for people around the globe, ginger is an important remedy. In fact, ginger is the world’s most cultivated herb today. 1
It’s probably not a coincidence that the ancient societies across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia all found ginger to be a valuable medicine. 2 Confucius, believing ginger to be a digestive aid, wrote that he never took a meal without it. The Japanese used ginger to soothe joint pain. The Koran describes ginger drinks as having holy properties. Somewhat more recently, George Washington’s continental army incorporated ginger into their diet while defeating the British.
From Beijing to Bunker Hill, the power of ginger has been on full display. But it’s only recently that we’ve come to understand that the effects of ginger go far beyond superstition. New research has shown that ginger’s medicinal properties can actually fight migraines, heartburn, and joint pain.
How Ginger Heals You From The Inside Out
The secret behind ginger’s power has to do with its vitamins and essential oils. The herb contains vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium. 3 But most important is the essential oil gingerol, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that is unique to the herb, has been shown to have widespread medicinal properties. 4
More specifically, let’s take a look at how ginger can be an effective remedy for three common ailments.
Migraines – If you’ve suffered a migraine, you know how intensely painful they can be. That pain is believed to be caused by an imbalance in brain hormones which in turn affects the trigeminal nerve. 5 Essential oils in ginger, including gingerol, go to work by blocking prostaglandin, a brain hormone which plays a role in creating pain during migraines. A 2006 study showed that one ginger-based remedy, GelStat Migraine, provided pain relief to 65 percent of sufferers within two hours. 6
Heartburn – Acid reflux can turn favorite foods into digestive nightmares. If this sounds familiar and you don’t want to turn to medications like Tums or Nexium, ginger might be just the natural remedy you’re looking for. The phenolic compounds in ginger work by fighting gastric contractions and gastrointestinal irritation. 7 For heartburn sufferers, this means less stomach acids flowing back into the esophagus.
Joint Pain – Arthritis or just simple overuse injuries can cause serious joint pain. Though most of us reach for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like Tylenol or Aspirin, it turns out a better option could be ginger. A study conducted at the University of Miami showed that ginger extract reduced pain and stiffness by 40 percent among osteoarthritis sufferers. 8 The trick? Ginger’s essential oils have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
When In Pain Drink This Tasty Ginger Brew
If any of this sounds intriguing to you, here’s a simple, inexpensive, and delicious way to put ginger to work in your life.
Ginger Water Ingredients:
- 2-inch piece of ginger
- 3 cups of water
- Half a lemon
- Raw honey
Ginger Water Instructions:
- Use a zester to grate the ginger
- Squeeze the lemon half into your three cups of water
- Mix your grated ginger into the lemon water
- Stir in a teaspoon of honey
- Enjoy your ginger water
Hot or cold, as a tea or a refreshing cooling beverage, this concoction is not only tasty, but also seriously beneficial to your health. Drink up!