Ginger contains hundreds of compounds and metabolites, as do most medicinal plants, of which the most important are the sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, gingerols and shogaols. The phenolic compounds relieve irritation in the digestive tract, stimulate the flow of saliva (which starts the chemical breakdown of starches) and bile (which digests fats). These compounds act on the muscle walls of the stomach to reduce contractions after food has passed into the duodenum. Ginger aids the digestive enzymes trysin and pancreatic lipase, increasing motility through the digestive tract, relieving constipation and potentially lowering risk of colon cancer.
Ginger is a well-known remedy for nausea, whether caused by travel sickness, pregnancy or chemotherapy. Ginger promotes sweating, and the circulation, and is helpful to keep one warm in winter. To make a natural soothing remedy for a cold, or flu, make Ginger Tea. Peel and slice a thumb of fresh ginger and steep it in a cup of hot water. Add a slice of lemon or a drop of honey if you like, and a few peppercorns, cardamoms and a stick of cinnamon for their anti-bacterial properties.
Ginger, like its cousin turmeric, reduces inflammation, a major cause of many serious conditions. It reduces cholesterol, and helps normalise blood sugar. Avoid using a lot of ginger, however, if you are taking antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs.
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