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Health July 2018

Eat Right Now

Behold: Ancient Ginger Makes Aging More Comfortable

By Wendell Fowler

Centuries of research supports ginger as a remedy for travel sickness, nausea, indigestion, flatulence, diarrhea colic, irritable bowel, loss of appetite, chills, cold, flu, poor circulation, menstrual cramps  (bloating, heartburn, indigestion and gastrointestinal problems such as stomach cramps).

We – my lovely wife Sandi and I – discovered ginger is infinitely more than a baking spice, or savory curry and beverage flavoring. Tingly, irresistibly fragrant ginger possesses a constellation of curative applications as well. The flowering herb native to China, India, Africa, the Caribbean, and other warm regions around the world has been widely used as a folk medicine for thousands of years.

Ancient Greek literature referred to ginger as a digestive aid. In 500 BC, Confucius wrote of never being without ginger when he dined. Dioscorides proclaimed ginger warms and softens the stomach. An expensive spice at the time, ginger was the Alka-Seltzer of the Roman Empire. For many millennia, Asian Indians and ancient Chinese considered ginger a tonic for all ailments. Afternoon tea dances were popular in the early 1900s, and midday teas of steeped, warming ginger, cinnamon, orange slices and chamomile were served to get folks fired up to trip the light fantastic.

Centuries of research supports ginger as a remedy for travel sickness, nausea, indigestion, flatulence, diarrhea colic, irritable bowel, loss of appetite, chills, cold, flu, poor circulation, menstrual cramps  (bloating, heartburn, indigestion and gastrointestinal problems such as stomach cramps). Got arthritis or rheumatism? Ginger’s potent anti-inflammatory compounds relieve joint and muscle tissue irritation, get your blood a-flowing, stimulate energy circulation and increase metabolism. 

Historically, ginger, a modified stem used for reproduction, has been used as an anticlotting and antispasmodic agent, anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral. The noble, knobby root is an expectorant, promotes sweating and relaxes peripheral blood vessels. It’s used to help headaches, heart, menstrual problems and diabetes. WebMD counsels ginger might decrease blood sugar. Research in Evidence-Based Complementary Medicine found consumption of ginger by middle-aged women improved cognitive ability. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports numerous studies of ginger’s medicinal properties have shown to be effective in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s.

New research names ginger an ally against cancer cells. Ginger was the subject of new research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research conference. In their study, ginger actually suppressed cancer cells suggesting ginger fueled the death of the cancer cells. Ginger has been shown to work against skin, ovarian, colon and breast cancer. 

The knobby, fibrous rhizome may raise the risk of bleeding. If you have a bleeding disorder or take blood thinners, consult your phlebotomist before taking ginger as a treatment. I take blood thinners, but also team with my phlebotomist and successfully balance the ginger in my turmeric, kale or any greens with vitamin K that causes clotting. As a result, I’m consistently therapeutic. Consult your care provider, but for heaven’s sake, don’t fear nature’s healing apothecary.

WebMD informs medications for high blood pressure (calcium channel blockers) mildly interacts with ginger and might reduce blood pressure in a way similar to some medications for blood pressure and heart disease. Ingesting ginger along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Your family physician may not know too much about anything other than pills and discourage you, so seek naturopathic advice as well. Mother Nature has had billions of years to perfect her healing apothecary. It’s never too late to reconnect with the earth.

Every night, Sandi and I brew a powerful tea of pH-raising Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, freshly grated or powdered ginger, a pinch of cayenne, raw local honey and turmeric. Consequently, neither of us require pain relievers –  and I have arthritis and two knee replacements. Sweet relief from pain and pills.

Yes, it may be difficult for some seniors to eat more ginger. Cultivating a taste requires open-mindedness and a robust desire to stay healthy. Perhaps the health benefits of ginger might amaze you enough to include more of it into your diet so that you can benefit from what the ancients knew.  Become the unique, beautifully aging being you are.

 

Chef Wendell hosts Eat Right Now on WISH TV 8 CBS Indianapolis. He can be reached at 317-372-2592 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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