Australian group spearheading research into the benefits of ginger

Since Confucius, ginger has been regarded as a cure-all for ailments such as common colds, sea sickness and flatulence, through to excessive perspiration, poor circulation and even sex-drive. Now modern scientific research is underway to test the validity of ginger's medicinal claims.

Ginger's links to Asian cuisine and herbal remedies stems back many centuries, and in the rich, volcanic soils of Australia's Sunshine Coast, the world's largest processor of sweet ginger is engaged in formal scientific research into the therapeutic and medicinal benefits of ginger.

Ginger oleo-resins are being tested for activity in conditions such as morning and motion sickness, arthritis inflammation and gastric ulcers.

Ancient Indian and Oriental cultures have used ginger alone or as a component in herbal remedies, and today, it remains a component of more than 50per cent of traditional herbal remedies.

Considerable scientific research is underway to test the validity of ginger's medicinal claims. A study of the research shows there have been some positive results with respect to the medicinal properties of ginger, including: p Prevention of coronary artery disease. p Its anti-emetic effects or control of nausea and vomiting. p Healing and prevention of both arthritic conditions. p Stomach ulcers.

One example is that extracts of ginger are being studied particularly in the treatment of the various forms of arthritis.

Leading rheumatologist, Professor Ray Altman of the University School of Medicine in Miami, USA, has recently published research results which demonstrate that a unique ginger extract could be the key to relief of pain and inflammation for millions of osteoarthritis sufferers. Professor Altman and Professor Carmelita Frondoza were expected to present new research focusing on the favourable properties of this ginger extract in cartilage protection.

One of the most detailed literature studies on ginger and its medicinal properties is found in Research Herbalist Paul Schulick's book ­ Common Spice or Wonder Drug? Ginger (1993, Herbal Free Press, Brattleboro, Vermont, USA). This book is recommended to any person interested in exploring the uses of ginger as a natural remedy and maintainer of good health. Schulick's work links early herbalists' claims with modern scientific research and lists over 300 references.

In his book, Mr Schulik states: "Ginger inhibits the same blood-thickening enzyme as aspirin and it accomplishes its tasks without side effects a Amazingly ginger also offers a host of additional circulatory system benefits rivalling those of any natural treatment and transcending the potential of many cardiovasular drugs a ginger reduces fever for the same reason aspirin does. It inhibits the activity of a fever-causing enzyme.“

Many varieties of ginger exist around the world all with distinctive flavour and aroma characteristics. Australian ginger for example, is noted for its balance of gingerols and citrols and milder flavour, enabling greater versatility as a flavouring ingredient in both sweet and savoury cuisine.

This combination of mildness and oil content results in a palatability level unmatched by hotter gingers from Asia, Jamaica, India and Africa. Interestingly, ginger's nutraceutical benefits from the various regions are not believed to vary significantly.

The flavouring qualities and health benefits of ginger have been known and widely used by Asian and Indian cultures for centuries, and now Western cultures are tapping into ginger's amazing variety of food applications.

So while scientifically, ginger is still grouped within the natural medicine field, which is not necessarily a negative, given the world-wide growth of the natural medicine industry, Australia's Buderim Ginger predicts ginger's entry into western medical and pharmacological industries is only a few years away.

Buderim, which now exports into more than 17countries, has grown to become the world's largest sweet ginger processor based on its green farming and processing techniques and HACCP and ISO9001 accreditation.

The company, which has an office in Stelle (close to Hamburg), to service the ever-increasing demand for its premium Australian grown and processed ginger from European customers, believes it is only a matter of time before ginger is taken up by the world-wide nutraceuticals industry based on the many studies now taking place around the world.

Buderim Ginger Sales GmbH is based in Stelle, Germany.

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