The Essence of Ginger
No modern medication can rival the range and variety of therapeutic effects that can be induced by ginger. However, the full awareness of the health benefits and value of the herbal ginger remedies is rather limited because of the monopolistic health-care systems and a historically biased regulatory environment in most countries. Out of the hundreds of species in the plant family Zingiberaceae, the ginger remains the most famous and popular herb. Ginger is a rhizome, according to the correct botanical classification, though the underground stem of the ginger is often mistaken to be a root. Many different varieties of the ginger herb exist in the wild and in cultivation, these varieties range from mild to spicy in taste, and all of them require tropical conditions and fertile soils to grow at an optimal rate. The ginger herb has traveled out from Southeast Asia to the new world, over a period spanning 5,000 years, and most regions of the world now cultivate it as a food crop.
The ancient trade in ginger helped shape nations and insured the universal cultivation and survival of the herb, it is considered a botanical treasure by some of the great figures of history. The interaction of over four hundred chemical constituents present in ginger produce the observed effects of herbal ginger remedies, these result producing compounds can be grouped into four major classes: those which affect taste, those responsible for fragrance, and chemicals which act as nutrients and synergists in the human body. The pungent compounds which affect taste are the focus for most of the therapeutic value associated with the ginger. These taste compounds, are known as gingerols and shogaols, the protein-digesting enzymes and antioxidant compounds present in abundant quantities in the ginger are also key elements in its overall effects over the body. Most of the observable physical effects on the body, such as the anti-inflammatory action, the anti-parasitic effect, and the anti-microbial and the digestive remedial actions, may all be due to the presence of one principal action – which is enzyme action on the body. At the same time, the observed effect, namely an anti-inflammatory action, can also be due to the presence of a number of principal actions at the core, it can be due to enzymes, because of eicosanoid balance and due to the presence of antioxidants in the herbal remedy. The main key to understanding the diversity of the ginger’s overall action may lie in the dynamics of the eicosanoid compounds; indeed, these may represent the point to develop a full understanding the various beneficial effects of the ginger remedy. The physiologically active compounds known as the eicosanoids are synthesized by the body from essential fatty acids already present from absorbed food. The development of an imbalance in these vital elements is the reason for a wide variety of diseases and conditions, which evolve in response to the imbalances. The modulation and control of the compounds known as eicosanoids has been attempted by pharmaceutical companies, in order to develop treatment methodologies for a host of disease conditions, this step is essentially a failed step, because of the many serious side effects such compounds can induce in the human body. The advantage of herbal ginger remedies is that the ginger helps in naturally bringing a balance to many of these vitally important eicosanoid compounds, without inducing any corresponding side effects in the body of the person using the herbal remedy.
The benefits of ginger herbs have been enjoyed by many millions of people, over the course of millennia, as part of herbal treatment strategies. Thus ginger remedies have been utilized for spiritual upliftment, they have been used to provide digestive comfort and physical strength, they have also been taken to stimulate and bring relief from infirmity in the body, the herbal remedies made from the ginger have been touted as the herbal remedy of choice and most traditional Eastern herbal formulas consider ginger remedies as a part of their herbal treatment methodologies. The ancient Indian Sanskrit name for the ginger very appropriately vishwabhesaj, translated as the universal medicine. The early twentieth century saw more than 25,000 U.S. physicians called the eclectics, praising the pain relieving and cold-fighting properties of the ginger. Traditional use of the ginger remedies was also made by many different cultures historically in many different regions of the world – these societies used the herb for some of the same basic therapeutic applications to which we put the herb to use. Some of these herbal remedies and applications of the ginger included its use as an analgesic, its anti-arthritic ability was utilized universally, the wound healing properties were utilized widely, the anti-helmintic and anti-ulcerabilities were widely known and put to use, its actions as a stimulant and its aphrodisiac properties also found great use in traditional medicine.
At the same time, traditional treatment of a variety of respiratory diseases, and problems in the reproductive and digestive system were treated using herbal remedies derived from the ginger. For many types of cardiovascular diseases, the ginger remains a primary preventive treatment especially in the treatment of critical cases of such conditions. Similar in action and usage to the common drug aspirin, the herbal remedies made from the ginger possesses a therapeutic potential and an ability to prevent thousands of deaths arising from sudden heart attacks and strokes as well as in the treatment of diseases such as cancer of the colon. The ginger has an advantage over aspirin, in that it will produce no side effects in the body whatsoever even after prolonged and continuous use. Ginger’s anti-ulcer effects are complemented on the whole by a host of other important beneficial properties pertaining to the digestive system, which includes immense relief from both diarrhea and constipation; it helps protect the liver and is an effective pro-biotic support agent. Ginger has also been documented as clearly having an effective anti-nausea effect. The ginger-based herbal remedies can thus be used to rid the body of nausea arising from the continuous use of chemotherapy and those which affect people during oceanic travels, it is also helpful during nausea from a term of pregnancy and in treating nausea following gynecological surgery, in all such cases, herbal remedies based on the ginger is the natural treatment of choice for the nausea. The assistance that ginger gives to the digestive system marks it as a prominent bio-availability herb, and the ginger assists the digestion of other consumed nutrients and is a greatly recommended addition to the natural supplemental regimes during treatment processes for many digestive complaints. While not generally recognized, intestinal parasites pose a much greater threat to the industrialized world than they are credited for. Here too, the potent range of anti-parasitic activities displayed by the ginger can play a great role in the treatment of parasite infections. Historical observations of the ginger, place it in a role of an effective remedy for cold, this ability of the ginger arises from a combination of principal actions and benefits which can include eicosanoid balancing within the body, its pro-biotic supporting role, its anti-toxic and cytoprotective influences on the body among other beneficial effects.
The remedies based on ginger also have a very significant anti-mutagenic potential, and these can be used to beat powerful carcinogens such as the compound benzopyrene and the more toxic burned byproducts of the amino acid tryptophan in the body. Ginger’s reputed anticancer abilities also deserve further research and study, this property of the herb must be further investigation and its role in cancer-treatment programs must be studied in the future so as to take advantage of any beneficial effects. In addition, to all of these abilities herbal remedies made from the ginger positively affect all other parameters of health such as levels of the compound cholesterol and the levels of blood sugar, at the same time, the herb helps in balancing a variety of vital body systems such as the performance of the circulatory system, the functioning of the respiratory and reproductive systems besides others. Topical remedies made from the ginger also have very positive and beneficial effects; the potency of the ginger in this topical role has been demonstrated during external treatments which showed dramatic results and improvement from a variety of skin disorders in many patients.
The safety of herbal remedies made from the ginger is remarkable. It can be said that almost no modern pharmaceutical products can compete with the range of therapeutic properties displayed by this herb and this does not even include the complete absence of all adverse physical side effects from prolonged use of the herbal remedy. However, when using ginger products during a term of pregnancy and before surgery, patients must be careful about doses and use the herb in moderation at such times. A general safe and preventive dosage of the herbal remedy for the use of the general population can be up to 1 gram a day of the powdered herbal remedy. Dietary use of therapeutic ginger remedies must be gradual and over a long period of time in all cases, as this will ensure the optimal benefits. The quality of the rhizome will also greatly influence the effectiveness of the remedy made from ginger. Organically certified ginger products are the best, as many of the commercial ginger products are normally subjected to many potential levels of chemical contamination, at different stages of the manufacturing process. For regular supplementation, both the fresh and the dry ginger herbal remedies are recommended and these two can even be used in tandem. Though the properties and benefits given by each will be slightly different and both will have specific strengths and weaknesses. Commercially the herbal remedies made from the ginger are available in many forms, which include the fresh and dried forms, ginger syrups, and as herbal capsules and extracts.