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Ginger is undoubtedly one of the most well known and researched of all the “kitchen cures”. It’s a herb that is used worldwide to alleviate nausea, vomiting, motion sickness, morning sickness, the nausea associated with chemotherapeutic drugs, digestive complaints, and arthritis and joint pain. Ginger is easily taken in many forms, including teas, capsules and sugar-coated sweets. It is most easily assimilated into the diet by incorporating it into your food. It makes a great addition to curries, casseroles, soups, and stews.

Many physiological benefits are attributed to the amazing qualities of qinger. Although its well known for its benefit to the digestive system, there are other lesser known, and equally important, benefits of this wonderful herb. A Danish study reveals that taking 1/3 teaspoon of ginger powder at the first sign of migraine will reduce symptoms by blocking the prostaglandins responsible for blood vessel inflammation in the brain. Unlike aspirin-related drugs, which are responsible for gastric bleeding, ginger does not weaken the lining of the stomach.

Inflammatory prostaglandins are also responsible for the joint pain and swelling associated with both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Ginger capsules or tea ease these symptoms in between 50-75% of sufferers. Additionally, repeated topical applications of creams containing ginger (or applying crushed ginger to the affected area) provides pain relief by depleting the skin's store of the neurotransmitter that is responsible for carrying pain signals via the spinal cord to the brain.

Ginger is able to relieve menstrual cramps because its antispasmodic action inhibits the painful contractions in the uterus. It also blocks the body’s production of substances that contribute to fever and bronchial constriction, and therefore is a perfect natural cough suppressant. Lastly, ginger is also of benefit to those with high cholesterol, blood clots or heart disease as it thins the blood and reduces absorption of cholesterol by the body, promoting its excretion via the digestive tract.

Toni Green is a Launceston-based naturopath, herbalist and health writer. It is her passion to pass on this knowledge of natural therapies to others so that they might live a stress-free life with health and vitality. Toni can be contacted at www.naturalhealthsolutions.net.au, toni.green57@iinet.net.au, or 0431 716 601.