Ginger truly helps tummies

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: April 12th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Many parents have given a fizzy glass of ginger ale to a child with a bellyache, thinking even if it didn’t have any real medical value, it provided some comfort.

Well, good news.

It turns out this traditional tummy tonic does have medicinal roots… as long as it has real ginger in it, not some synthetic substitute. Used extensively as a spice, ginger contains gingerol. Scientists believe this antioxidant helps prevent harmful chemical reactions in the body.

Investigating whether ginger can prevent stomach upset caused by chemotherapy, University of Michigan researchers found gingerol helps neutralize nauseating chemicals.

Similarly, the substance also blocks the effects of serotonin [sarah-TOE-nin], a stomach chemical that transmits the nauseated feeling to the brain.

Scientists also explained the warming sensation that many people attribute to ginger. It dilates blood vessels, which provides a nice warm feeling when you’re sick.

It also has blood-thinning qualities, so people who use aspirin or other drugs to treat cardiac or circulatory problems shouldn’t use ginger without a doctor’s permission.

It’s too early to know if ginger will help cancer patients, but previous studies have shown it controls nausea related to motion sickness and pregnancy.

The best way to use ginger is to buy it fresh and grind or chop it to add to foods. It’s also available dried and in capsules, teas, cookies and soda.

But remember, to get that medicinal pop, the product must contain real ginger, not artificial flavoring.

Warm tummies will thank you for it.