Articles by Natural Health Author Barbara Minton

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Ginger Stops Menstrual Pain, Pregnancy Nausea and Much, Much More

by Barbara Minton
See all TBYIL articles by Barbara Minton

(The Best Years in Life) Ginger, that aromatic root used to liven up food for centuries, is a treasure chest of health benefits that keep bodies lively too. Recent research has found ginger able to stop menstrual pain as effectively as drugs, and reduce pregnancy nausea and vomiting. It has also shown ginger to be a highly effective for the treatment of colon cancer and liver cancer.

Ginger stops menstrual pain as effectively as drugs

The study compared the effects of ginger, ibuprofen, and mefenamic acid (another NSAID typically used to treat the pain of menstruation) for their ability to stop cramps and menstrual pain. This was a double blind comparative clinical trial conducted over a six month period.  One hundred fifty participating women were divided into three equal groups. Women in the ginger group took 250 mg of ginger four times a day for three days from the start of their menstrual period. Members of the other groups received 250 mg mefenamic acid or 400 mg ibuprofen capsules on the same protocol. A verbal multi-dimensional scoring system assessed the severity of their menstrual pain.

Severity of disease, pain relief, and satisfaction with treatment were compared between the groups. Ginger's ability to stop menstrual pain was striking. Severity of painful cramping decreased in all groups and no differences were found between the group taking ginger and the group taking drugs in severity of cramping and generalized menstrual pain, or in satisfaction with the treatment.  The scientists concluded that ginger was as effective as the NSAID drugs in relief of menstrual pain. This study was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

1000 milligrams of ginger a day makes pregnant women feel much better

Sixty-seven women receiving prenatal treatment at a clinic were subjects for this study. Each had complained of pregnancy nausea and vomiting. The women were randomly assigned to either an experimental group or a control group. The experimental group received 250 mg of ginger to be taken four times a day for four days, and the control group received placebos.  The ginger users demonstrated a higher rate of improvement compared to the placebo users (85% versus 56%). The decrease in vomiting times among ginger users was also significantly greater than among the women who received the placebo (50% versus 9%).  This study was reported in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Ginger has a distinguished career as a spice and a healer

Ginger comes from the underground rhizome of the ginger plant, known botanically as Zingiber officinale. The edible rhizome is usually yellow or white in color and covered with a brown papery skin. After being peeled, the firm textured rhizome can be minced and sprinkled raw on salads, vegetables dishes, and beans and legumes.  Ginger adds a tantalizing taste sensation and has been a favorite addition to Asian cuisine for several centuries. It is a likely contributor to the notorious good health Asians have enjoyed.

Ginger is mentioned in ancient Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern writings, and had been prized though several millennia for its culinary and medicinal properties. It has been used by the Chinese and Mediterraneans in cooking seafood because it acts as a detoxifer to prevent seafood poisoning. Drinking ginger tea has been regularly recommended by Chinese physicians as a way to retain vitality.


Ginger offers potent cancer protection

Gingerol, the main component of ginger, is responsible for its distinctive taste. It is believed to be the reason why eating ginger confers powerful protection against cancer and why ginger has been a research star against colon cancer. Scientists at the Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii recently measured the bioactivity of 6-gingerol and ginger extract in two key aspects of colon cancer biology – cancer cell proliferation, and the ability of cancer cells to establish and maintain their own blood supplies. 

They found that the compounds had a direct effect on cancer cell proliferation, and an indirect effect on endothelial cell function either at the level of endothelial cell proliferation, or through inhibition of endothelial cell tube formation. The scientists concluded that 6-gingerol has two types of antitumor effects: direct colon cancer cell growth suppression, and inhibition of the blood supply of the tumor via the angiogenesis process. Their study was published in the journal Phytotherapy Resources.

Gingerol can kill ovarian cancer cells by inducing programmed cell death and self-digestion. In a study reported in The World’s Healthiest Foods report on ginger, scientists found that exposure to the ginger extract caused cell death in all the cancer lines studied. In the presence of ginger, a number of key indicators of inflammation were also decreased in the ovarian cancer cells.

Chemotherapy also suppresses these inflammatory markers, but cancer cells frequently become resistant to chemotherapy drugs. As a result of this, ginger may be of particular benefit to cancer patients. For anyone wishing to prevent cancer, frequent use of ginger may be a good idea.

Ginger has shown anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects with liver cancer cells as well. Liver cancer is particularly deadly and few treatments are available for it. Researchers evaluating the effect of ginger extract on the expression of cancer promoting NFkappaB and TNF-alpha, found that ginger extract significantly reduced the elevated expression of these markers in rats with liver cancer. These finding were reported in the journal Clinics.

Ginger relieves motion sickness

Ginger is effective at preventing the symptoms of motion sickness and seasickness. Researchers have found it to be superior to Dramamine at reducing all symptoms including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweats.

Ginger relieves arthritis

People with osteo or rheumatoid arthritis experience reduction in their pain levels and improvement in their mobility when they use gingerly regularly. In two clinical studies involving patients who responded to conventional drugs and those who did not, physicians found that 75% of arthritis patients and 100% of patients with muscular discomfort experienced relief of pain and swelling with ginger. Knee pain patients experienced significantly less pain in movement when they consumed ginger regularly. Ginger has also been shown to suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines produced in the lining of the joints and cartilage.

Use the freshest ginger you can find

Choose fresh ginger over the dried form whenever possible. It is not only superior in flavor but contains higher levels of gingerol and other compounds that inhibit inflammation. Fresh ginger can be found in the produce department of many grocery stores, or at health food outlets. Unpeeled fresh ginger can be stored in the refrigerator for about three weeks. However, buying a smaller piece from the produce counter each time you shop will yield the freshest ginger.

Ginger is high potassium, so necessary for heart function, and in manganese, a mineral that builds resistance to disease and protects the lining of the heart and circulatory system. Healthy skin, hair, teeth and nails are promoted by ginger's high silicon content. Ginger contains Vitamins A,D,E, and the B complex, along with magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, calcium, and beta-carotene.

Ginger makes drab dishes come alive

Add ginger to rice, potato or pasta dishes by sprinkling grated ginger on top along with sesame seeds. Use it in salad dressings combined with tamari, extra virgin olive oil and garlic. Sprinkle bits of ginger on sweet potatoes and vegetables. Use it in fresh vegetable or fruit salads. Add it to stir fry dishes and marinades. Sprinkle ginger on meats, fish or poultry before baking.

Drinks can be spiced up with ginger. It makes a great addition to fresh mixed vegetable juice or smoothies. Just cut off a slice and toss it into the juicer or blender. Use ginger to spice up lemonade. Brew ginger tea and serve hot or as iced tea. One third of a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger added to your food and drink everyday will provide optimal wellness benefits.

See also:

Addressing Heavy Menstrual Periods Naturally

Natural Help for PMS

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About the Author:

Barbara is a school psychologist and the author of Dividend Capture, a book on personal finance. She is a breast cancer survivor using bioidentical hormone therapy, and a passionate advocate of natural health with hundreds of articles on many aspects of health and wellness. She is the editor and publisher of AlignLife's Health Secrets Newsletter.

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