Friday, August 5, 2011

GINGER: The Root to Good Health

I grew up on the island of Jamaica until I was 13 years of age. Although I’ve spent more years in the United States, there are certain things that I have carried with me through the years that I either heard or learned from my grandmothers, aunts and my mother. Some of these teachings include health remedies.

I remember growing up, whenever I had a stomachache or a headache my mother or grandmother would make a cup of ginger tea for me. Drinking ginger tea has become so commonplace for me that I have gotten my husband into drinking it and I gave a little to my son one day when he said he had a tummy ache.

In the Jamaican household ginger is a staple. Most Jamaicans will have the raw ginger root on hand but at times when you cannot find it there is also ginger powder. Most Jamaicans also cook with a lot of ginger. When I think about it, I don’t think it’s just to add flavor. I think it may also be to avoid heartburn. I know that sounds far-fetched but when I eat my mom’s cooking or most Jamaican food that has been cooked with ginger I don’t get heartburn.

There are other illnesses that Jamaican ginger is known to remedy. Some are more known than others. One of the most popular is nausea. I keep a stash of ginger tea on hand. I also like a blend of lemon and ginger. Whenever I think I may be getting a stomachache or even menstrual cramps, I drink ginger tea. When I have a really bad headache I drink ginger tea and it relaxes me. I always find myself saying to friends, when they say they feel nauseous or have a tummy ache, ‘ginger…’

In Jamaica, some older people would use ginger as an anti-inflammatory or for arthritis. Ginger is also known to fight against certain types of cancer, mainly ovarian cancer. To go along with the idea of nausea and cancer, ginger will help with chemotherapy treatments. I’ve heard that nausea is one of the side effects from chemotherapy. Using ginger, whether in tea for or capsule form before and after treatment, can reduce the feeling of nausea and vomiting during treatments.

Ginger can and is often used in many different forms. In Jamaica, it is often used as the root. Peeled and boiled for tea or for a topical rub. Ginger can also be used as a powder in hot or cold drinks and can be taken in capsule form. I will always recommend ginger to people even when they aren’t ill. I find it very soothing when I have a headache and I would rather take that than medicine.

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