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Ginger: More Than a Spice

Por Emiliana Faillace, Nutrition Counselor, MyDiet™ -
Ginger: More Than a Spice

Did you know that ginger has been used in China for thousands of years to relieve throat pain, arthritis, nausea, and vomiting? 

Ginger is one of the oldest spices that has been cultivated in Asia for about two thousand years. It is mostly used in cooking and is responsible for the characteristic taste of Asian dishes. Ginger is also known for its medical properties and is a good source of  zinc. Until now, it has been believed that it helps relieve nausea, vomiting, inflammation, and cold symptoms.

An analysis of 33 studies about the effectiveness of ginger to treat the nausea and vomiting caused by pregnancy revealed that supplementation with ginger was more effective than placebo. This study was performed in 2005 by Borrelli and colleagues and published in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Journal . There were no secondary side-effects documented for mothers nor for the babies during or after  pregnancy.Another study published in Cochrane in 2003 arrived at the same conclusion. A meta-analysis in 2006 proved that ginger is effective in relieving nausea and vomiting caused by anesthesia, compared to the placebo. 

More studies are needed to support the use of ginger in the treatment of arthritis, since existing research results have been inconclusive. Some people have reported relief of inflammation and pain after consuming ginger, but others haven’t found any effect.

The Medical Center of Maryland recommends taking one to four grams of fresh ginger each day to receive the health benefit from it. To prevent vomiting, the dose should be half teaspoon of ginger root powder every four hours, without exceeding four doses a day. If you can’t find ginger powder, you can also chew ¼ oz of fresh ginger. However, excessive consumption of ginger (more than 4 grams a day) may cause gastritis and interfere with some medications, such as anticoagulants (aspirin and heparin). Make sure to consult your physician before eating ginger for medical purposes and avoid eating it in abnormal amounts before any type of surgery. 

If you prefer using ginger to cook, here is a recipe idea:

Apricot and Ginger Shake 

  • 5 apricots, seedless
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • ½ cup  soy milk 

Blend all the ingredients until smooth and serve cold. 

Sources: 

  1. Francesca Borrelli, et al. Effectiveness and Safety of Ginger in the Treatment of Pregnancy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting.  Obstetrics & Gynecology2005;105:849-856.
  2.  American Family Physician (2007). Ginger: An Overview. Retrieved in August, 2008 from www.mdconsult.com
  3. Maryland Medical Center (2008). Ginger. Retrieved in August, 2008 from www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ginger-000246.htm
  4. Cousin, Pierre Jean; K. Hartvig. The Complete Guide to Nutritional Health.1 sted.USA: Duncan Publishers, 2004.

 

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