Ginger Herb Uses

The term “ginger” refers to the underground root or rhizome of the plant known as Zingiber officinale. Herbalists have used ginger root medicinally for thousands of years, and cooks around the world value the herb for its culinary uses. Modern health care professionals often recommend ginger for treating several different ailments, though science has only just begun to prove the herb’s worth in treating more serious conditions. Always talk to your doctor before taking ginger supplements on a regular basis, as side effects or drug interactions may occur.

Treating Nausea

Ginger has the ability to treat nausea caused by morning sickness, motion sickness, surgery and chemotherapy. A systematic review published in the British Journal of Anesthesia found that ginger worked better than placebo for treating seasickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy-induced nausea. While this review did not analyze ginger for treating post-operative nausea, several other studies have proven the herb effective in this situation. One such study, published in the December 2006 edition of the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, found that patients who took ginger one hour before surgery experienced a significant decrease in nausea for up to six hours after the operation.

Reducing Inflammation

Long used by herbalists and natural healers to reduce inflammation, ginger may provide relief for sufferers of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and ulcerative colitis. A study published in Arthritis & Rheumatism found that ginger extract significantly reduced symptoms of osteoarthritis in the knee after six weeks of treatment. Ginger inhibits the productions of cytokines, or regulatory proteins that create a long-term tendency toward inflammation. This may contribute to the herb’s anti-inflammatory action.

Other Medicinal Uses

Although most valued for its ability to reduce nausea and inflammation, ginger has several other medicinal uses. Some of the herb’s traditional though scientifically unproven uses include treating high cholesterol, cancer, colic, diarrhea, the common cold, flu, headaches, painful menstruation, loss of appetite, indigestion, stomach and intestinal gas, strep throat, parasitic infections and seizures. Available forms of ginger include fresh or dried root, capsules, tinctures, extracts and oils. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking no more than four grams of the herb per day, including dietary sources.

Culinary Uses

While many people prize ginger for its medicinal effects, the herb also has a wide range of culinary uses. Popular in Asian cuisine and Asian-inspired dished, ginger imparts its flavor to numerous different foods. Baked goods such as ginger breads, cakes and cookies become popular around the winter months, while winter vegetables such as sweet potatoes and acorn squash commonly receive ginger’s flavorful spark. In most cases, the powdered root provides the most benefit in dishes like these. Fresh ginger root, however, works well in Asian stir-fries, herbal teas, soups and stews.

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe\’s work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.