Photo by Katherine Tallmadge
Fresh Ginger from Fresh Farm Market at Dupont Circle
Fresh Ginger from Fresh Farm Market at Dupont Circle

Ginger has been used for medicinal purposes for 5,000 years; first by the Chinese and Indians, then exported to the Roman Empire more than 2,000 years ago. Queen Elizabeth I of England created the Gingerbread Man, now a popular holiday treat. Ginger can be fresh, dried and candied

There are 115 compounds in various forms of ginger contributing to its distinct flavor and aroma. Many of these compounds are also responsible for ginger's antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic properties. Depending on the form of and purpose for the ginger, the recommended daily dose is about one fifth to one teaspoon per day.

Historically, ginger was regarded as the great medicine or "mahaoushadha" in India. In ayurvedic medicine, ginger is used for digestive issues, fever and respiratory conditions. Modern science has confirmed many of these long-held beliefs. 

Several studies have found ginger reduces nausea. Others show it increases stomach emptying and intestinal motility; characteristics which decrease constipation. New research found that just 1 gram (one fifth of a teaspoon) of ginger reduced 26 percent of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms after 28 days. It also reduces pain during menstruation. 

Three clinical studies showed about 2 grams (About one quarter of a teaspoon) of ginger was effective in treating colorectal cancer. Apparently, the bioactive compounds in ginger reduce cellular proliferation in the colorectal lining. 

My advice? Find ways to add ginger to your diet