Is Ginger a Superfood?
In this blog post I discuss some of the common health benefits of ginger.
Is ginger a ‘super food’ or a mere food fad that will fade? What exactly does ginger help with and can it help you?
I list some of the negative side effects ginger can have if you take medication. This is especially important if you’ve had a blood clot or at risk of heart attack and stroke.
Also, I’ve shared my favourite ginger tea recipe that I sometimes make in clinic. Read on to learn more about ginger and how it may help you.
What is Ginger?
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a flowering plant with annual stems growing to one meter in height and with yellow flowers. You would be most familiar with the rhizome or ginger root from which fresh ginger and ginger spice comes.
Did you know? The ginger plant is in the same family as turmeric and cardamom.
Ginger has been used medicinally for centuries. Commonly treated conditions include indigestion, gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying), constipation and colic. Ginger wine has been made commercially since 1740.
Health Benefits of Ginger
- Eating ginger stimulates the production of saliva, making it easier to swallow food.
- Research has been carried out to determine if ginger can treat various health disorders such as nausea and arthritis. No conclusions about its effectiveness have been made to date in this regard.
- Smaller studies indicate benefits for treating seasickness, morning sickness, motion sickness and helping with chemotherapy.
- Many people believe ginger helps to reduce inflammation, relieve swelling and pain.
- Ginger is often used in tea and as a hot tonic.
How do I use it?
Ginger comes in many forms:
- fresh (herbalists recommend this type)
You can peel, chop, slice, grate and julienne ginger. It’s great in stir-frys, with chicken and seafood, you can bake with it and of course make ginger bread. Personally I like to make hot ginger tea (I’ve included a recipe below) and occasionally I eat carob coated crystallised ginger.
When to Get Further Advice
Ginger may interact with some common prescription medications, contributing to unwanted side effects. Here are some of the more common interactions that may occur.
Ginger and Warfarin
Ginger may slow the natural blood clotting effect. Warfarin is an anticoagulant drug used to slow the blog clotting effect in patients suffering from thrombosis and thromboembolism and used to prevent heart attacks, strokes and blood clots. Taking ginger and warfarin together may increase chances of bruising and bleeding.
Ginger and Blood Pressure
If you’re taking medication for high blood pressure (Calcium channel blockers) be careful with ginger. Ginger may reduce your blood pressure, and in combination with medication might cause your blood pressure to drop too low.
Ginger and Diabetes
Ginger may decrease blood sugar levels. Diabetes medication lowers blood sugar levels. Together, your blood sugar levels may drop too low.
Easy Ginger Tea
Make your own hot ginger tea using fresh ginger. See for yourself if this hot tonic improves your digestion.
I personally make fresh ginger tea and often share it with my patients. Add a squeeze of lemon and there really is nothing fresher – especially enjoyable during the colder winter months.
This is how I make my ginger tea:
- Fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced. Use 4-6 slices (more or less depending on taste)
- 1.5-2 cups of water
- 1 slice of lemon or lime
- Honey to taste
- Boil ginger and water for at least 10 minutes to help the flavours diffuse.
This blog article summarised many of the health benefits and uses of ginger. Ginger has been used for thousands of years in cooking and for medicinal purposes, particularly for digestion.
There are many claims about what ginger may or may not help with. Smaller studies indicate ginger provides relief from indigestion, sea and motion sickness and with chemotherapy.
Ginger is a popular ingredient in many dishes and makes for a refreshing tonic.
Care should be taken when using certain medications such as warfarin and when treating diabetes and blood pressure.
What do you think of ginger? Do you know of any other uses? Please leave comments or questions in the box below.
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