For many years I would go into my local supermarket, saunter right past the bin of tan, knobby, aromatic ginger root, head straight to the medicine aisle and plop a bottle of aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen into my basket. About five bucks later I’d return home, with my little bottle of side effect producers, armed and ready for the war on pain.
The ginger would have armed me just as well for about 20 cents. Without putting me at risk of an ulcer or a stroke. I just didn’t know any better in those days.
After a frightening incident in which my friend’s blood pressure shot up to 171/117 after he’d used a prescription pain med we began to wonder of the pharmaceutical companies really had our best interests at heart. Doug stopped the naproxen immediately and I began to search, in earnest, for a natural remedy for his wrist (he’d sprained it) pain.
I had been toying with herbalism and nutrition therapy for years, but now was the time to get serious. I had recently lost my mom to a massive stroke. I had to find something to help my friend that would not endanger him. I pulled my reference books off the shelf and paged through them again. I scoured the net.
I kept seeing references to ginger. At first, I paid them no mind. It’s just a kitchen spice I told myself. I’ve had a jar of it in the pantry for ages. It makes a nice square cake that tastes good with a dollop of whipped cream on top of it, but a pain reliever? Naah. A natural cox II inhibitor? An anti-inflammatory?
A cure for gas, nausea and motion sickness? You’ve got to be kidding me.
I was more than skeptical, but ginger’s cheap and accessible so what did I have to lose?
I knew from my research that I could buy a root, peel the papery skin off, slice a 1/4″ round from it and just simmer it in a cup of water for ten minutes to make a spicy tea, but, as I needed to order some supplements at the time anyway, I opted to purchase dried, ground ginger root in capsules.
At $2.50 per hundred these were cheaper than most of the NSAIDs we’d been using and we could just wash two down with a glass of water. I wouldn’t always have time to make a tea. This way, Doug could take them to work if he wanted to.
When the capsules arrived, I explained to Doug what they were supposed to do. He accepted this much more readily than I had and took two right away. Half an hour later I made inquiry. He said his wrist didn’t hurt anymore. Over the next couple weeks, he continued to take two 540mg caps at the first sign of pain.
The ginger root always knocked it right out. And he noticed another thing. His back wasn’t bothering him anymore.
Doug had been suffering, on and off, with osteoarthritis in his lower back for 20 years. Because he was leery of taking mega doses of NSAIDs, he was rarely pain free during these flare-ups. The difference between the NSAIDs and the ginger root is “night and day” in his estimation. The ginger root takes the pain completely away.
I was so impressed by this that I began using it for period pain instead of ibuprofen. I have uterine fibroids which cause so much pain on days two and three of my menstrual cycle that it prevents me from sleeping. I found that the ginger root relieved my pain as effectively as ibuprofen if I started dosing on day one (two caps every six hours).
If I don’t remember to take it until my abdomen starts throbbing, I will have to add some cramp bark, yarrow or desmodium tea to my regimen in order to obtain complete relief.
- Nausea: ginger is reputed to be safe and effective against morning sickness.
- Motion sickness: start dosing well ahead of the event. I find that this only works for me if I have at least two grams in my system before boarding the plane.
- Gas and indigestion: take one cap with foods known to cause distress. Alternately, if the dish is compatible, you could grate some fresh ginger into it. I do this with bean dishes and it prevent us from becoming so “musical”.
- Bioavailability enhancer: ginger root is one of those special herbs that helps your body to better absorb anything you take with it. In the case of other herbs you may be using for medicinal reason, this can be a desirable side effect. If you are on prescription meds, this can be something you don’t want to happen. So talk to you doctor before combining ginger with drugs.
You can make ginger tea, eat candied ginger, shred the fresh root into food or pop the capsules of dried, ground root. Some companies sell standardized capsules guarantied to contain a certain percentage volatile oil. I have used these and I have used just plain ginger. The non-standardized works just as well in my opinion.
You Can Tell By the Smell
How do you know if that root you just picked up is potent enough to treat your symptoms? Sniff it. The healing oils in ginger are very aromatic. They are also hot. Chew a little piece. If you can feel the heat, you know you’ve got the good stuff.
One 540mg capsule for gas or indigestion. Two for pain or motion sickness. You may have to take a dose every four to six hours until enough is built up in your system to relieve your symptoms. Then you may be able to cut back to just one or two grams a day.
One of the nicer benefits of taking ginger root is that it can help your body repair itself so that you eventually need less of it. When we first started using it, we’d go through 100 caps in three weeks. Now, one bottle lasts us about three months.
None really. At extremely high doses (20 grams or more) it might bring on a premenopausal woman’s menses.
Pregnant women should discuss this with their docs before beginning. Also, make sure you drink a full glass of water when taking the capsules.
Doug was used to swallowing meds without water. He tried this one night with a ginger cap on his way to work. It got stuck in his esophagus, the capsules dissolved and the ginger started to burn. Good thing there was a 7-11 nearby. He had to stop and buy a bottled water.
In the war on pain, indigestion and motion sickness, ginger root is a weapon I wouldn’t want to be without.