The use of ginger as a medicinal aid dates back thousands of years to Ancient China and India. Herbalists of Eastern medicine used it as a veritable panacea, recognizing early on its beneficial effects on everything from minor pains to upset stomachs. More recently, Western science has determined that indeed there are definite benefits from this common root, and it is used by doctors in both hemispheres. So what can ginger do for you?


What is Ginger?

Ginger is technically referred to as a rhizome (literally “mass of roots”) - the horizontal stem found in the ground that sends out roots. Originally found in Southeast Asia, it was desired for both its subtle flavor and its medicinal properties.


What Can Ginger Do?

Herbalists swear by ginger as a relief from nausea, digestive problems, heartburn, and arthritis, and can assist blood circulation in the body. But even for a healthy person, ginger has benefits. It may prevent colon cancer, studies show, diabetic nephropathy (a kidney ailment), and can ward off colds and the flu.


How Is Ginger Best Taken?

Ginger is a staple condiment in Eastern cooking, often grated or thinly sliced and taken with meals. It also can be made into oil and used to massage areas of localized chronic pain. Ginger tea is now commonly found in health stores and local markets, and can be helpful as well. For busy people who can’t always be grating ginger onto their lunch meals, ginger can be effective when taken as a supplement. When looking for a supplement, make sure that they contain gingerols and shogaols, the ginger plant's active ingredients.


However taken, ginger is a great way of maintaining a healthful routine, and should be seen as a preventive rather than a curative.


Put some on your California roll the next time you order sushi!