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Healing Herbs and Spices: Ginger Root and Chili

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Ginger root is the rhizome of the Zingiber officinale plant. Native to Southeast Asia, its name is derived from the Sanskrit word “singabera” which means “horn shape”. It is from the same plant family as turmeric, cardamom and galangal. It is available as a fresh root, in powder form or as an oil. Fragrant, pungent and spicy, it is widely used to flavor foods and beverages throughout the world, but most notably in Asian cuisine.

Since antiquity, ginger has been highly prized for its therapeutic properties and has been used to treat a variety of ailments. It is known to have anti-oxidant properties and is rich in certain minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Fresh ginger also contains an essential oil and several volatile oils, namely zingerone, shogaol and gingerol. Gingerol has been shown to have analgesic, antipyretic, antibacterial and sedative properties.

In Ayurveda, ginger root is considered to be the universal medicine. As such, it is used extensively in the Ayurvedic diet and traditional herbal preparations. Along with black pepper and pippali, it is one of the three ingredients in the legendary Ayurvedic formula “trikatu” which is used to support digestive and circulatory functions.

One of nature’s most promising herbs, ginger is believed to:

Prevent motion sickness, especially seasickness and morning sickness
Reduce dizziness and cold sweats
Stimulate and enhances digestion
Improve assimilation and absorption of nutrients
Reduce nausea and vomiting, especially in pregnancy
Detoxify the GI tract and improve elimination of wastes
Lower cholesterol
Lessen pain and swelling and inflammation
Improve circulation and enhance blood flow
Act as a blood thinner and prevent blood clots
Increase metabolism (by creating body heat) and aid in weight loss
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Induce cell death in ovarian cancer cells
Inhibit free radicals in body
Boosts immunity
Relieve heartburn
Aid in prevention of colds and flu
Provide migraine headache relief
Help to fight bacterial and viral infections
Invigorate reproductive organs improving impotency and remedying infertility

Chili a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

The infographic also includes a thermometer that shows just how spicy certain peppers are in relation to pepper spray and Tobasco sauce.

Chili peppers are rich in phytochemials, copper, iron, potassium and vitamins A, B6 and C. They also contain capsaicin, the the active ingredient and a compound that makes them hot and spicy.

Capsaicin is thought to have certain medicinal uses, taken internally (eaten) or applied topically (in a cream), including the following:

❤ It raises the metabolic rate (metabolism) for up to three hours, which aids in calorie and fat burning, and weight loss.

❤ It may reduce to risk of heart attack and stroke by boosting circulation, thinning the blood and lowering cholesterol.

❤ Its potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties aid in fighting chronic inflammation, preventing and clearing up sinus infections and congestion in nasal passages.

❤ It may slow down the growth of pancreatic, prostate and lung cancer cells, according to recent studies.

❤ In topical creams, it helps relieve headaches and pain in muscles, and may reduce the pain of osteoarthritis and psoriasis.

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