Jamaican ginger is widely held to rank alongside Indian ginger as the finest in the world. It has an intense fragrance and a delicate eucalyptus-like aroma and flavor. This ginger is used to make the internationally famous Jamaican ginger beer. Production is centered around the parish of St. Ann on the north coast of the island. Here are some of its amazing health benefits:
- Fights Germs. Certain chemical compounds in fresh ginger help your body ward off germs. They’re especially good at halting growth of stomach-upsetting bacteria like E.coli and shigella, and they may also keep respiratory viruses at bay.
- Keeps Your Mouth Healthy. Ginger’s antibacterial power may also brighten your smile. Active compounds in ginger called gingerols keep oral bacteria from growing. These bacteria are the same ones that can cause gum infections.
- Calms Nausea. The old wives’ tale may be true: Ginger helps if you’re trying to ease a queasy stomach, especially during pregnancy. It may work by breaking up and getting rid of built-up gas in your intestines. It might also help settle seasickness or nausea caused by chemotherapy.
- Soothes Sore Muscles. Ginger won’t whisk away muscle pain on the spot, but it may tame soreness over time. In some studies, people with muscle aches from exercise who took ginger had less pain the next day than those who didn’t.
- Eases Arthritis Symptoms. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory, which means it reduces swelling. That may be especially helpful for treating symptoms of both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. You might get relief from pain and swelling either by taking ginger by mouth or by using a ginger patch on your skin.
- Lowers Blood Sugar. One recent study suggested that ginger may help your body use insulin better, but more research is needed to see if ginger could help improve blood sugar levels.
- Lowers Cholesterol. A daily dose of ginger may help you battle your “bad” or LDL cholesterol levels. In a recent study, taking 5 grams of ginger a day for 3 months lowered people’s LDL cholesterol an average of 30 points.
- Protects Against Disease. Ginger is loaded with antioxidants, compounds that prevent stress and damage to your body’s DNA. They may help your body fight off chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diseases of the lungs, plus promote healthy aging.
- Relieves Indigestion. If you live with chronic indigestion, also called dyspepsia, ginger could bring some relief. Ginger before meals may make your system empty faster, leaving less time for food to sit and cause problems.
Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS
Health Ministries Department, 6810 Eastern Ave NW, Washington DC 20012