The characteristic odor and flavor of ginger is caused by a mixture of zingerone, shogaols and gingerols, volatile oils that compose one to three percent of the weight of fresh ginger.
In laboratory animals, gingerol increases the motility of the gastrointestinal tract and have analgesic, sedative, antipyretic and antibacterial properties. Ginger oil has been shown to prevent skin cancer in mice and a study at the University of Michigan demonstrated that gingerrols can kill ovarian cancer cells.
Ginger has a sialagogue action, stimulating the production of saliva, which makes swallowing easier.
Ginger contains up to three percent of a fragrant essential oil whose main constituents are sesquiterpenoids, with (-)-zingiberene as the main component. Smaller amounts of other sesquiterpenoids (sesquiphellandrene, bisabolene and farnesene) and a small monoterpenoid fraction (phelladrene, cineol, and citral) have also been identified.
Nonvolatile phenylpropanoid-derived compounds, particularly gingerols and shogaols, which form from gingerols when ginger is dried or cooked are responsible for its great taste. Zingerone is also produced from gingerols during this process; this compound is less pungent and has a spicy-sweet aroma.
- Calms an upset stomach
- Safe remedy for "morning sickness"
- Eases cold symptoms
- Soothes and promotes healing of minor burns and skin inflammations
Historically, ginger has a long tradition of being very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative (a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract). Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.
Ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These substances are believed to explain why so many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly.
Ginger is so concentrated with active substances, you don't have to use very much to receive its beneficial effects. For nausea, ginger tea made by steeping one or two 1/2-inch slices (one 1/2-inch slice equals 2/3 of an ounce) of fresh ginger in a cup of hot water will likely be all you need to settle your stomach. For arthritis, some people have found relief consuming as little as a 1/4-inch slice of fresh ginger cooked in food, although in the studies noted above, patients who consumed more ginger reported quicker and better relief.
- Ginger. The world's healthiest foods.
- A Review of 12 Commonly Used Medicinal Herbs; MD O' Hara, Mary; & MSt; David Kiefer, MD; Kim Farrell, MD; Kathi Kemper, MD, MPH
- On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen; McGee, Harold.
- Ginger; University of Maryland Medical Centre.
- The herb bible; Earl Mindell.
- Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia; Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK.
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