Spring 2014 True Natural Health Magazine – Your Questions Answered
By Roger French
QUESTION: A 52-year-old acquaintance has had high blood pressure for some years and has been n medication. Recently he began taking a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger daily, either in a hot drink or sprinkled on his food, and his blood pressure has lowered to the point where he doesn’t need the medication any more.
What is the ‘magic’ ingredient in ginger?
Ginger, the rhizome (horizontal underground stem) of the plant Zingiber officinale, has been a popular spice and herbal medicine for thousands of years in Asia, India and Arabic countries.
According to Michael Castleman, author of The Healing Herbs, ginger may help reduce hypertension, or high blood pressure.
Even a US cardiologist, Dr Sinatra, is impressed by ginger. He states that ginger, the smart man’s aspirin, is a potent blood thinner and anti-inflammatory agent that can help lower your blood pressure. You can try commercial organic ginger teas, or make your own from ginger root. Simply chop the root into small pieces and boil for about five minutes. You can also use sliced or grated ginger to spice up any dish. (To read more, go to http://www.drsinatra.com/lower-blood-pressure-with-these-salt-substitutes#ixzz34amuKWiE)
It can be used fresh, dried and powdered or as juice or oil.
Researchers at University of Maryland Medical Center think that the active components of ginger are volatile oils and pungent phenol compounds, including gingerols and shogaols. (Source http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/ginger#ixzz34ajdBGQX)
A report in MedlinePlus, service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, states that ginger might reduce blood pressure similarly to some blood pressure medications. If ginger in addition to these medications, it might cause blood pressure to drop too low or cause irregular heartbeat.
Studies indicate that ginger may also help prevent blood from clotting, which reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Ginger is well known for easing stomach problems, including motion sickness, morning sickness, colic, upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, nausea caused by cancer treatment, nausea and vomiting after surgery, as well as loss of appetite.
Other uses include pain relief from arthritis or muscle soreness, menstrual pain, upper respiratory tract infections, cough, and bronchitis. Ginger is also sometimes used for chest pain, low back pain, and stomach pain.
There are precautions to be taken with ginger. The University of Maryland Medical Center (referred to above) warns not to give ginger to children under age two, and that pregnant women should not take more than 1gm per day. For other adults, don’t take more than 4 gm per day, including from food sources. For arthritis pain, they say that one study used 250 mg four times daily.
People with gallstones, heart conditions or a bleeding disorder or about to have surgery should not take ginger without checking with their herbalist, doctor or other practitioner.
Side effects from ginger are rare. High doses might result in mild heartburn, stomach upset, diarrhoea or mouth irritation.
Interactions are possible with blood pressure medications, diabetes medications, blood-thinning medications and some others.