Herb of the Month: Ginger

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Sharp, pungent, and delicious, Ginger has been used around the world for thousands of years. In many cultures, ginger is a part of the daily diet, enjoyed from a young age. In addition to its use in many diverse and cultural foods, candies, beverages, and snacks, it also is used in cosmetics like creams and lotions, as well as candles and soaps thanks to its delightful aroma.

Ginger is a plant with leafy stems and yellowish-green flowers, and the spicy part comes from the roots. The root or rhizome is well known as the medicinal part of the plant that delivers the time-tested benefits. The oils in the ginger rhizomes get stronger with age; because of this, ginger plants are harvested at different times. Ginger is known to be harvested between eight months to five years, depending on the intended use of the spice.

Although Ginger has gained popularity over the past few decades, it is hardly new for medical uses around the world. Throughout history, herbalists and folk medicine practitioners have turned to ginger. Ancient Sanskrit, Chinese, Greek, Roman, and Arabic texts discussed the use of ginger for health-related purposes. In Asian medicine, dried ginger has been used for thousands of years to treat stomach aches, diarrhea, and nausea (1). Ginger also has been used successfully for easy menstrual discomfort, or dysmenorrhea.

The plant can be used as a spice freshly sliced in the diet, or as a supplement (2). Forms of nutritional ginger include dried ginger root, tea, tablets, capsules and liquid extracts.

As with most herbal supplements, starting at a lower dose is preferable. As always, it’s important to have a dialogue with a healthcare practitioner before supplementing, especially if taking other prescribed medications.

References
1. (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/ginger
2. Comparison of effects of ginger, mefenamic acid, and ibuprofen on pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19216660/

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