Zingiber officinale, more commonly known as ginger, is a plant known very well for its culinary and medicinal properties. Native to the Southeast Asia, it has a long and storied history there as an ingredient in many dishes. That fame has now spread worldwide. More often than not, it is sliced or powdered for ease of use depending on the dish. For example, it might be sliced for tea and powdered for use in curry; other times, it may be preserved in syrup or candied as a treat. Regardless of the method of preparation, it is quite popular.
The part of ginger that we actually make use of is called the rhizome; most people think of ginger as a root, but this is somewhat inaccurate. The rhizome is a stem, not a root. In the case of ginger, that rhizome is packed with powerful nutrients, enzymes, and various compounds that altogether make ginger an herb very beneficial to our health. Medicinally speaking, most often ginger serves to relieve nausea, dizziness, vertigo, or to facilitate digestion; in the latter case, this is because ginger promotes the production of saliva, and its fiber content makes passing bowel movements easier.
Ginger benefits the body in a number of ways, and research is always being done to see how else it can help us. For example, in addition to the uses mentioned above, there is research that suggests ginger has some promise as a painkiller, as a cleanser of cellulite and minor skin blemishes, as a soothing agent for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as a means to lower triglycerides or blood sugar, and even a tool to fight certain kinds of cancer. Using ginger as a remedy for these conditions and others has received mixed returns from various research studies.
While ginger is a great spice and natural remedy, keep in mind that taking it in excess, or if you are affected by certain conditions, can actually end up causing you more harm than good. If any of the following situations apply to you, you should speak to a medical professional to discuss your options before taking high levels of ginger or ginger supplements.
Certain blood disorders such as hemophilia can make the use of ginger a risky proposition. This is because ginger acts as a blood thinner, which can prevent the blood from clotting. This behavior can be very helpful for those with high blood pressure, or those who are prone to vessel blockages and other trouble in their circulatory system. However, for hemophiliacs, this can be incredibly dangerous. Given that hemophiliacs already have trouble recovering from open wounds due to the inability of their blood to clot, ginger’s blood thinning properties can exacerbate the problem, causing hemorrhaging that could easily become fatal.