Today we will take ginger for our discussion. Ginger is the most effective medicine for arthritis. The person who keeps eating ginger will rarely ever have arthritic symptoms as it prevents the initiation of both Vatic and Kapha diseases. Those who are unable to find fresh ginger can take the dry ginger powder.

One of the most prevalent Vatic disorder is encountered after childbirth. Ginger is an elixir for any mother at this time. Since ginger is not readily available in all seasons it is better to use dry ginger and powder it as and when needed. Ginger will appear in the breast milk of any mother who takes this spice, or its decoction, for a minimum of two months starting immediately after childbirth. This means baby will also get the benefits in Kapha and Vata disorders even into later life, provided baby got ginger through breast milk throughout.

Tea is the most favoured drink in all of India. Irrespective of the ages or times of day of those who enjoy it, tea is offered to every visitor. Gujaratis in India or U.S. or even Canada are very fond of adding a masala, meaning a powdered mixture, to make tea both very tasty and very healthy. Most patients with arthritis are told to avoid tea and coffee at all cost. But is not easy to get rid of these addictions! So you need to take an equal proportion in weight of ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and pound them  all together. Do not strain them. When making your tea, you can add about a ¼ teaspoon of this masala mixture for each cup of tea just after it starts boiling. You add the sugar and milk later. This is an Ayurvedic tea which will not cause Kapha and is also a good remedy for infected throats and by using this tea the voice is able to open up in volume and altogether increase vigour in the body.

Tea taken in this way will not cause obesity, due to these added spices. The milk looses its Kapha causing property, and those suffering from milk allergy can take this milk (without tea powder if you wish to avoid tea) without any fear of an allergic reaction. Frequently, when obesity is treated, weight gain occurs in place of weight-loss! This tea does not add layers of fat and will make body both healthy and well proportioned. The very process of making tea offers flavinoids to the drinker while the milk softens the caffeine content without causing addiction.

Ginger ranks highly amongst herbs used to treat liver disorders in ayurveda and it is needed to give energy and vigour to the body as a result of correcting the metabolism. As ginger does not allow Meda (obesity) to increase, it has been used in Trifala Guggulu, one of the most well known formulations aimed at reducing obesity. Furthermore, along with black pepper and pepper longum, it is also used in Medohar Guggulu, another formulation with the same use. These should both be used under supervision of a vaidya, as the proportions need to be changed dynamically, otherwise dizziness and vertigo can be additional problems. Only Trifala Guggulu is harmless, but it may cause constipation with overuse. Despite Trifala being laxative in effect, Trifala Guggulu does not have the same effect and in fact some people can get constipated if these remedies are used incorrectly. Despite such difficulties there are never any complaints from patients to say that there is an increase in obesity while taking Trifla Guggulu.

In this author's post on Glycosugars he mentioned uses of jaggery in herbal remedies. If one takes a teaspoon of cow ghee and about 20 gm jaggery in a small iron vessel, warms them a little so that jaggery melts, and then adds ½ teaspoon of ginger powder, mixing them  togetherwill produce a paste. This warming paste, when taken on empty stomach, is an excellent remedy for frequent coughs, colds and general swellings. It both increases hunger and also prompts better digestion.

Gas and acidity are two prevalent complaints of old age. Today there are many senior citizens who know ayurvedic remedies too well and take ginger, licorice and pippalimula powder together everyday to guard the mobility of the body.  Ginger is a very versatile herb and even a small 40 – 50 page book would be inadequate to describe its far-reaching impact in health science. In allergic skin diseases such as Psoriasis or eczema, ginger is both soothing and preventive.

For those Indians living in villages who may have some medical plants in their court yards, this author describes a healthy juice aimed at reducing the incidence of all allergic diseases. Ardusi, ginger, tulsi, pudina (mint) are all required, it is then necessary to mix ½ teaspoon of the fresh juice of each herb and add a pinch or two of saindhava or black salt and a teaspoon of honey and drink this after mixing well, first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. Take tea or coffee as desired after 30-40 minutes, but only if one is addicted to tea/coffee.. It will give you a clear voice and all old chronic coughs, panting, breathing difficulties and cardiac asthma will slowly improve until they are cured.

One remedy which author described in an old post on sciatica (2073, 2829) is very useful for all arthritic conditions too. Many mothers- in- law know this and pass the details on to their daughters-in-law. Take 200 ml water, add 1 tsp ginger powder (3-5 grams), slowly bring to the boil until only 25% water remains and then drink after straining while adding 5-25 ml castor oil. Start with 5 ml castor oil only, and go on increasing up to 25 ml, as your constitution will allow. This is a very effective remedy for arthritis (both osteo and rheumatic) for disorders of apan vata (which also include nocturnal emission of semen), and for gulma and bloating etc. It will also increase blood circulation to the extremities, taking care of varicose veins and heel pain etc. Try this for 3-6 months, every morning, and patience pays gradually in the end. So be very patient and do not be disappointed if at the end of the first month no benefit can yet be seen.

While many correlate ginger powder with Pitta and acidity, this is not correct. Ayurveda has many exceptions which one comes to know only after the familiarity of long experience. The combination of ginger, black pepper and Pepper Longum is termed `Trikatu" in Ayurveda. Take a pinch of black pepper powder in the hand and inhale this for clearing a nose block or alternatively inhale the steam after boiling it in water for the same benefit. Trikatu is used in many formulations of Ayurveda, like Medohar guggulu which was discussed here earlier. Many formulations aim at increasing hunger, improving digestion and tackling gas and bloating, for these try some trikatu. Acidity is also tackled by formulations which use trikatu. Here the digestive agni does not only mean hunger but also creating all dhatus from all the foods we eat. This gives vigor, energy and weight gain by increasing muscle density and not, as one might have imagined, by increasing body fat and obesity.

One of the most common uses of ginger is in Gujarati meals. Ginger is added in Tadka Dhal, and ginger is also served as appetizer offering a few pieces sprinkled with a little salt and lemon juice. Heavy meals also will get more quickly digested in this way. Thus ginger does not cause indigestion but imparts health and balance to digestion. Some people make a pickle from ginger root pieces and lemon juice alone, no other preservative is needed. Slightly less known is the use of ginger for blood purification along with other herbs.

After so many uses of ginger this author wishes to bring a special property of ginger to the reader's attention. It has been found to treat a great number of ailments effectively including stomach ache, diarrhoea, and nausea. When it comes to women's health, ginger root has proven beneficial[1] in helping treat morning sickness with dosages ranging from 125to 350 mg of ginger root extract per day. [2 3 4]

Now a new study[5] has just found that ginger root extract may provide another benefit for women by helping protect them against ovarian cancer (which is the eighth most common cancer found in women and the fifth most common cause of death in women from cancer).

In this study, researchers dissolved ginger powder in solution and applied it to ovarian cancer cells in the laboratory. Not only did ginger cause the cancer cells to spontaneously die (apoptosis), the extract also caused the cancer cells to digest or attack each other (autophagy).

For researchers, the value in this study is that "Most ovarian cancer patients develop recurrent disease which eventually becomes resistant to standard chemotherapy. If ginger can cause…cell death…it may circumvent resistance to conventional chemotherapy."

That is the scientific mindset. They want to use ginger to circumvent resistance to chemotherapy - but why can chemotherapy not be avoided altogether? This is the ayurvedic mindset! (First do no harm!) This study cleared a query in the mind of this author – why should western women be so very vulnerable to ovarian cancer whereas for Indian women there is only a negligible risk?

One of the answers appears to be the far greater use of ginger in the Indian diet!

Editing help from Jane MacRoss is gratefully acknowledged.

Dr Bhate

1. Afzal M, Al-Hadidi D, Menon M, Pesek J, Dhami MS. Ginger: an ethnomedical, chemical and pharmacological review. Drug Metabol Drug Interact 2001;18:159–90

2 Borrelli, F., R. Capasso, et al. (2005). "Effectiveness and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting." Obstet Gynecol 105(4): 849-56

3 Sripramote M, Lekhyananda N. A randomized comparison of ginger and vitamin B6 in the treatment of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. J Med Assoc Thai 2003;86:846–53 4 Fischer-Rasmussen W, Kjaer SK, Dahl C, Asping U. Ginger treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 1991;38:19–24

5 "Ginger: An Ovarian Cancer Killer" posted on the American Association for Cancer Research website  
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