Ginger has been used as a spice in Asia for at least 4,400 years and a medicinal plant in Arabic, Indian, and Asian cultures for more than 2,000 years. In the U.S., ginger is more commonly used as a spice, but health care professionals are now embracing the many medicinal uses of this miraculous root. Besides recommending ginger root for pain and inflammation, upset stomach, and colds, health care professionals may use ginger to help prevent or treat several unpleasant (but common) side effects of chemotherapy treatments.
A number of human studies have shown that ginger may reduce the severity and duration of nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy. A National Cancer Institute (NCI) study found that if patients take 0.5g to 1g of ginger three days before and after chemotherapy, along with anti-nausea medication, nausea is reduced by an additional 40%.
Another potential benefit of ginger? It is believed that one of the principal molecules present in ginger – known as gingerol – may inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
And about those lemons…
Lemons are loaded with vitamin C and flavonoids, which have been shown to inhibit cancer cell division. Lemons have also been shown to help prevent nausea during chemotherapy. An added benefit of fresh lemons? The vitamin C in lemons calms inflammation and pain, boosts the immune system, and it can even help prevent heart disease.
If you’re ready to start reaping the benefits of ginger and lemon, try this delicious ginger-zapped lemonade recipe by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Fresh ginger
- Pure water (if you are undergoing chemotherapy, this will protect you from the chemicals and bacteria that can be found in some drinking water)
To make 8 servings (1 cup each), you’ll need:
- 1/4 cup of ginger
- 8-9 lemons to make 1 ½ cups of fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 6 cups of pure water
- 1 cup of sugar
The rest is easy. All you have to do is:
- Pour the water and sugar into a saucepan and stir with a whisk over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves (approx. 5 minutes).
- Place the ginger in a double layer of cheesecloth and tie securely.
- Cheesecloth substitutes: coffee filters, gauze
- Place the wrapped ginger in a large pitcher, add the lemon juice.
- Add the sugar mixture and 5 cups of water to the pitcher, stir.
- Refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Toss the ginger and enjoy!
Cool fact: Cardamom and turmeric are also members of the ginger family and may offer some of the same therapeutic benefits as ginger root.
- Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Dana-farber.org
- Foods to Fight Cancer Richard Beliveau, Ph.D. and Denis Gingras, Ph.D. Print, DK Publishing New York
- National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer.gov
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) NCBI.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed
- National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs Rebecca L. Johnson and Steven Foster, Foreword Dr. Andrew Weil Print, National Geographic, DC
- The Healing Foods Patricia Hausman and Judith Benn Hurley Print, Dell Publishing, New York
- The World’s Healthiest Foods WHFoods.org
- University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) UAMShealth.com
- University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) UMM.edu
- Photo credit: ImpromptuKitchen / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)