Medicinal properties of food

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: September 21st, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

We’ve all heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But how about a nice, big bowl of mushroom and ginger soup?

While many doctors scoff at the idea of prescribing food instead of pharmaceuticals, a growing number are taking a harder look at natural remedies. Why? Mostly because they see patients suffering more from the side effects of medication than they do from the ailments themselves.

It’s rare to find a drug that can offer a quick fix to a common problem, such as upper respiratory infections or colds. In fact, most medications act like a shotgun blast, affecting organs beyond their intended target. So a medication prescribed to control a cough may cause incontinence and drowsiness, while a cure for joint pain may also bring digestive problems.

So, back to that mushroom and ginger soup. New studies have shown that mushrooms help boost the body’s immune system proteins up to three to five times their normal level. Meanwhile, ginger is an excellent decongestant.

Suffering from arthritis? Try a turmeric stir fry. Researchers from the United Kingdom found that extracts of the yellow-hued spice are reported to have the same impact on soothing joints as painkillers such as Celebrex and Vioxx. And, unlike those two drugs, turmeric has never been linked to heart problems or stomach ulcers.

Does this mean you should substitute your pantry for your medicine chest? Not at all. Let a doctor decide if pharmaceuticals are needed. But don’t be shy to bring up the benefits of food.