Ayurvedic Spice Cabinet: Why Ginger Is a Potent Digestive Panacea
In Ayurvedic tradition, it is believed that one should eat fresh dinner before meals to aid digestion. That’s because ginger acts as a potent resource for the digestive system in more ways than one: it stimulates agni, our digestive fire responsible for the digestive and metabolic processes of the body; it boosts appetite; and it improves the distribution and assimilation of nutrients throughout the body. In addition to its digestion-aiding capacities, ginger also offers a number of other therapeutic benefits, including the alleviation of joint pain and the lowering of cholesterol levels.
Ginger is a staple in many Asian cuisines, and its versatility makes it easy to incorporate into a wide number of delicious dishes. It can also be taken dried or powdered, or applied to the skin in the form of essential oils. Curious to learn more about ginger’s potent detoxifying and digestion-boosting properties? Here, we explain the benefits of ginger and how to reap its benefits by incorporating it into your daily routine.
(Note: Ginger is not recommended for those who are experiencing hyperacidity, such as hemorrhage and vertigo.)
Benefits of Ginger for Digestion, Weight Loss & More
Ginger’s medicinal powers can be attributed in part to its main bioactive compound, gingerol, which is revered for its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties enable ginger to treat a wide variety of ailments, as discussed below.
It relieves nausea and morning sickness
Confirming ancient Ayurvedic wisdom, research has demonstrated that ginger is an effective treatment for nausea. In particular, studies have also suggested that ginger is especially effective in relieving morning sickness in pregnant women. (However, pregnant women should always consult with their doctor before incorporating ginger into their regular routine.) The next time you’re experiencing nausea, try brewing some ginger tea or adding sautéed ginger to your next meal for effective nausea relief.
It helps treat chronic indigestion
In Ayurveda, agni is the digestive fire that controls the digestion and incorporation of food and nutrients into the body; given its important role in regulating what we allow into our bodies and how we process our consumption, agni also plays a vital role in determining our overall health and wellbeing. Indigestion occurs when the stomach experiences a delay in emptying itself, reflecting a stunted or impaired agni. As research has demonstrated, ginger can speed up the process of emptying the stomach, thus alleviating chronic indigestion and boosting agni.
It reduces menstrual pain
The pain-relieving powers of a natural ingredient like ginger are impressively effective for those who experience period pains. One study has shown that ginger is just as effective in relieving menstrual pain as NSAIDS like ibuprofen, making ginger a natural alternative for other OTC medications. (If you’re interested in other Ayurvedic ingredients that boost women’s health, check out our blog on Shatavari here.)
It promotes weight loss
It can lower blood sugar levels
Given ginger’s antioxidant properties, which help it alleviate oxidative stress, may also enable it to lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. One study has impressively demonstrated that ginger significantly lowers blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes.
It relieves joint pain
Research has demonstrated that ginger can significantly relieve pain in those with osteoarthritis, which is a condition that causes joint pain. Even if you don’t have osteoarthritis, you can apply ginger topically in the form of oils to areas of injury to reap its inflammation-relieving effects.
How to Incorporate Ginger into Your Routine
Eaten Fresh or Raw
For those who enjoy or are accustomed to ginger’s strong flavor, you can eat slices of raw ginger with salt and lime juice before eating a larger meal. Raw ginger is also used as a palate-cleansing side in Chinese and Japanese cuisines. To mellow out its taste, you can also sauté ginger as part of a simple stir fry made out of whatever ingredients you’d like.
Brewed as Tea
You can also brew ginger into fresh tea, which can be made in an extremely simple fashion by simmering sliced ginger and water for 5-10 minutes. You can also add other spices, like turmeric or cinnamon, for extra flavor and medicinal benefits. Alternatively, you can try out golden milk, an all-star panacea incorporating ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and other spices for digestion, inflammation, immunity and more.
Applied Topically through Oils
You can also massage essential oils containing ginger into the skin as a way of reaping ginger’s wellness benefits while also immersing yourself in a soothing self-care experience. Navel therapy is one particularly effective method that uses essential oils to improve digestion, relieve pain and promote overall tranquility and calm. Harnessing the detoxifying and incorporative properties of ginger, our UMA Body Balancing Navel Therapy Oil was formulated specifically to stoke agni and boost the digestive system.