Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ginger - The Wonder Root

Ever walk along the produce aisle and find yourself staring at the earthy fascination of a ginger root? Oddly shaped, and with a distinctive flavor, this "wonder root" is an excellent dietary addition because it includes varying amounts of magnesium, manganese, potassium, and vitamins B6, C, and E. Besides being loaded with anti-inflammatory properties, ginger root offers a variety of other health benefits. Some studies indicate it is an aid to digestion, is beneficial both to cholesterol levels and blood pressure, helps with arthritis, and even aids nausea. It is quite a versatile root to boot! Ginger can be incorporated into countless recipes and should be included in your regular diet.

Considered a staple in China and India, ginger root has been used for centuries in cooking and for medicinal purposes. It has a thick, tan, knotty, and bulbous appearance and grows somewhat horizontally. In actuality, it is not a root, but rather it is a "rhizome," an underground stem. Harvested year-round, ginger root is available fresh in most grocery stores, usually in the produce section.

Several studies have investigated the health benefits of ginger. The advantages range from decreased joint inflammation and arthritis to help with nausea, athlete's foot, heart disease, lowered cholesterol, and better circulation. Ever get bloated? Ginger may be the answer. Many people take the strange-looking stem in some form to help with their digestion. Ginger has also been shown to be anti-viral, making it a great support for your immune system during periods of increased risk of common colds and flu. It helps to reduce muscle spasms, and some women take ginger for menstrual cramping. Ginger is also an aid in managing fevers, bronchitis, respiratory symptoms, and headaches. Feel dizzy during a ride on an airplane or while traveling on a cruise? The characteristics of ginger have even been shown to help people with motion sickness.

In our practice, we have seen the most success when ginger is used to assist with digestive, bowel, and gastrointestinal issues, stomach cramping, and arthritis of the fingers. For many of our pregnant patients ginger has provided relief from their symptoms of nausea. Some individuals choose ginger in place of pain relievers. Ginger also benefits healing in cases of skin wounds, aiding in the decrease of pus and infected areas. Note that ginger is contraindicated for people with gallstones and gastric/peptic ulcers and should not be used by them. During a recent symposium hosted by the American Association of Cancer Research, a particular study demonstrated that ginger suppressed cancer cells and cleansed the body of toxins. Although more research is needed, the documented curative effects of ginger are welcome news.

Ginger can be taken in whole, liquid, or powder form. If the wonder root does not appeal to your taste buds, try taking it in capsules, which are available in most health food or nutritional stores. The dosage for adults is typically 25 to 100 milligrams (or 1.5 to 3 milliliters of liquid) daily, although for digestive issues it may be helpful to increase the dosage. Use of ginger root in its natural state is preferred, and it is particularly beneficial and tasty when steeped in hot water with green or white tea. See the recipe at the end of this article for a pleasant concoction known as "Oooss Juice."

Ginger has many uses beyond medicinal and is versatile in the kitchen. Several cultures include it in making wine, and it is an ingredient in various candies, teas, curry, sushi, and some French liquors. In the US, ginger is probably most popularly known as the basis for ginger ale, gingerbread men cookies, cakes (gingerbread), jellies, jams, and other delicious confections and flavorings. Consider adding ginger to your favorite stir-fry recipe, dressings, salads, and even barbecue sauce.

As already described, ginger is a multipurpose and extraordinary herb! Its numerous health-promoting and symptom-fighting components make it desirable and appreciated. Whether the issues are digestive or fighting inflammation and bloating, ginger can contribute to the good health of people at any age.

One of my favorite ginger-based "brews" is Oooss Juice, for which the recipe follows:

Oooss Juice

- Use a high-quality, heat-retaining, stainless steel 2- to 4-gallon pot.

- Boil 1 gallon of water; add ½ pound of sliced ginger; lightly boil for 5 minutes, and turn the burner off.

- Add 2 to 6 organic green tea bags, steep for 30 to 60 minutes, and remove.

- After 4 to 12 hours, strain out the ginger, place the juice in a glass container, and cool in the refrigerator. Drink cold or hot.

Ginger, the wonder root, is an ingredient in many interesting recipes, adds a pungent and exotic flavor to foods and beverages, and offers notable health benefits to those who add it to their diet.

Owner and educator Dr. Chad Laurence is in private family practice at CORRECTIVE CHIROPRACTIC in Hockessin, Delaware. After earning his doctorate from Life University of Chiropractic in Marietta, Georgia, Dr. Laurence began practicing chiropractic in 2000. Before his chiropractic studies, Dr. Laurence received a BS degree in Microbiology from Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Laurence is a Distinguished Fellow of the CBP technique. Presently, fewer than 400 doctors worldwide are certified in Clinical Biomechanics of Posture. Research results published in peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals support Clinical Biomechanics of Posture more than any other chiropractic technique. With a focus on structural spinal correction, nutrition, education, and specific training, Dr. Laurence is able to relieve symptoms for individuals suffering with physical problems, including neck and low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, arthritis, and intestinal difficulties. His approach is also particularly successful at helping children with chronic ear infections, asthma, allergies, ADD/ADHD, bed-wetting issues, and childhood immune system disorders. Dr. Laurence is an experienced presenter who has been invited to speak in a variety of venues. For more information about Dr. Laurence or Chiropractic Biophysics/Clinical Biomechanics of Posture (CBP), 302.234.1115. Additional details are also available on the practice website:

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