(NaturalNews) Ginger has been cultivated and taken as a medicinal by numerous cultures for thousands of years to address symptoms such as upset stomach or nausea, to expel cold from the body and to stop a cough. In addition, recent studies have confirmed and expanded our understanding of this herb's healing abilities, including ginger's ability to protect the stomach lining and inhibit the secretion of gastric acid. Ginger's botanical name is Zingiber officinale, with the genus name Zingiber deriving from a Sanskrit word meaning "horn-shaped" in reference to the shape of the protrusions on the ginger rhizome. While the exact origins of Ginger are not known, we do know that it has been cultivated in China and India for millennia, and it reached the West over two-thousand years ago.
Numerous studies have demonstrated ginger's anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger's nausea-reducing actions are attributed to its ability to increase digestive fluids, as well as neutralize stomach acid and toxins. Ginger has been shown to increase the action and tone of the bowels, as well as increase bile secretion. Ginger also reduces the stickiness of blood platelets, and may therefore help reduce one's risk of atherosclerosis.
It is interesting to note, too, that ginger has been employed in Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years due to its numerous beneficial properties. Called Sheng-jiang in the Chinese pharmacopoeia, ginger used alone as a single herb is considered to alleviate nausea, dispel pathogens by inducing sweating, expel cold, as well as stop coughing and reduce excess phlegm in the lungs.
In Chinese herbal medicine, Sheng-jiang, or fresh ginger, is considered to have very different properties than Gan-jiang, or dried ginger. Gan-jiang is useful for "cold" pain of the stomach and abdomen, diarrhea due to "cold" in the abdomen, cough, and rheumatism, among other uses. Dried ginger has also been shown to inhibit vomiting.
Additionally, fresh ginger is considered in Chinese herbal medicine to have a moderating or detoxifying effect on other more harsh herbs. For this reason, ginger is found as a component of many different Chinese herbal formulas (clusters of herbs combined together for their overall synergistic effects) for the treatment of symptoms ranging from the common cold, to allergic rhinitis, influenza, chronic nephritis, headache, and chronic laryngitis. It should be noted that ginger won't directly treat the symptoms listed above unless combined with other herbs in the proper formula for an individual patient's particular case.
A recent study published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine concluded that ginger protects the gastric mucosa from stress-induced mucosal lesions and inhibits gastric acid secretion, due in part to inhibiting growth of h. pylori as well as offering anti-oxidant protection against gastric damage. This seems to clearly confirm the popular use of ginger in Ayurvedic, eastern, and folk medicine traditions for its medicinal properties.