Ginger has always been one of those spices I use sparingly. If a recipe calls for it, of course I mix it in with the other ingredients, but if I’m throwing something together on my own, ginger is nowhere to be found. It’s not that I don’t like ginger. I do. If given the choice between chocolate and gingerbread, I’ll choose the latter every time. It’s just that, well, I lack ginger-confidence and ginger-knowledge. My exposure to the spice has been minimal at best. And until now, I never thought I was missing out on anything big. However, ginger’s recent popularity piqued my curiosity. Why were there so many fans? What didn’t I know? Apparently, a lot.
Ginger has been used to heal the body since ancient times. Its powers have found its way into various wives’ tales and folklore. It was thought, for example, that growing ginger in your home would promise health and prosperity, and that drinking ginger tea would warm your heart. Neither belief was too far off. Ginger has been proven to ease ailments. And while it may not warm your heart, its warming capabilities have gone so far as to inspire some to sprinkle ginger powder in their shoes on cold, damp days. Research has also suggested that it may help fight cancer (colon and ovarian) and ease arthritic pains. But ginger’s strongest appeal is its ability to battle nausea.
Often given to pregnant women in the face of morning sickness, ginger can settle a stomach disturbed by any number of forces from chemotherapy to digestive problems. Most recently, researchers examined the spice’s effects on motion sickness. In one study, 36 individuals prone to motion sickness were spun on a motorized chair for up to six minutes after taking either a ginger capsule or a placebo. The participants who took the ginger lasted twice as long as those who received the placebo, many of them going the full six minutes without getting sick. Additional studies involving naval cadets, cruise ship guests and travelers have produced similar results. In fact, ginger has proven to be as effective, if not more so, than Dramamine. That’s certainly something you should keep in mind if traveling is in your future or you’re planning on spending Labor Day on a boat. Ginger capsules or ginger candy could be a good replacement for the typical motion-sickness drug. Just remember that it should be taken ahead of time – about 30 minutes before you leave – in order for it to work properly
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