The Natural Benefits of Ginger

By , Robert S., SparkPeople Contributor

The next time you get an upset stomach, you might be relieved to know that you don't have to down spoonfuls of gross pink fluid or chew chalky tablets. In case of bellyache, stock your fridge with one thing: Ginger. Hundreds of years ago, people sailed all over the globe in search of this natural soother of upset bellies. Ginger has been proven to reduce nausea and vomiting, even in chemotherapy patients. But that's not the only reason you should start consuming more of this spice. 

Other common uses for ginger include the following:

  • Ginger can act as a stimulator for circulation by warming joints;
  • Ginger can help ward off causes for the common cold (which makes eating a ginger snap or two a day a welcome source of prevention);
  • Ginger can help reduce pain and inflammation, which makes dealing with arthritis, menstrual cramps, and even headaches easier.
  • There is evidence that ginger may be useful in preventing stomach ulcers. Using ginger may be especially useful for those whose ulcers have been caused by aspirin or ibuprofen.
  • Ginger can help reduce gas and other stomach discomfort.
  • Ginger can counteract bacteria that may cause diarrhea. This includes Salmonella and other bacteria.

One of the best advantages about ginger is that there is a variety of ways to ingest it. A person can drink ginger tea, eat ginger soup, or buy it in the vitamin aisle in capsule form and swallow a capsule of up to 1000 milligrams every day. It is important that pregnant women, people undergoing chemotherapy, and other people with delicate situations or illnesses consult and inform their doctors before starting a regular regimen of ginger.

There are other uses for ginger that can help improve overall health, and make a sick person feel better sooner:

  • Ginger can be used as a way to build up an appetite.  When taken right before a meal, ginger has been shown to make many people interested in eating more. This can be useful for older folks who sometimes lose interest in eating as they age.
  • Ginger can help keep sinuses clear. Ginger keeps microcirculatory channels of the body clear, which can help prevent sinus problems.
  • Ginger can also reduce swelling in joints by acting as a natural anti-inflammatory. To take full advantage, ginger oil can be added to bath water.
  • People who get nauseous when they fly, or when they drive on curvy, hilly roads, may find it soothing to mix a little ginger with honey. 

Another benefit of ginger is that many people enjoy its taste (but the flavor is also easy to mask for those who do not enjoy it). Ginger pairs well with stronger foods like green chilies and chopped garlic, and it adds flavor to bland foods such as rice. Grated ginger can be added to vegetable juices and fruit juices, and there are several different teas with ginger as an additive for great flavor and healing properties.

Whether dealing with short-term discomfort, such as a minor bout of food poisoning, or recovering from chemotherapy, ginger can help you feel better in a snap!