Ginger is a widely used and versatile plant. It has so many potential health benefits that it has been studied in detail in relation to over 100 health symptoms or conditions. Ginger has traditionally been used to manage various gastrointestinal problems. It is widely known for its anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger is also believed to help with digestion by promoting smooth intestinal movement.
Ginger has now been proven to be a remedy for heartburn. A recent study shows that the ginger root is more effective in managing and treating heartburn, a painful and uncomfortable disease that affects millions of people, than mainstream prescription medications.
Causes of heartburn
There are various causes of heartburn. “Fatty foods, large portions, and late-night meals are the top three triggers that affect many people with heartburn.”
A number of foods and drinks can cause the loosening of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). A weak LES is can be a factor in the cause of heartburn. Food and drinks that commonly trigger heartburn include:
- alcohol, in particular red wine
- spicy foods and black pepper, garlic, raw onions
- citrus fruits and citrus products (such as orange juice)
- coffee, tea and soda
Side effects of heartburn drugs
Many people who suffer from heartburn opt to take mainstream medication in an effort to alleviate their symptoms. However, recent research has suggested that people who take certain popular medicines for heartburn known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) should do so with caution.
According to a study lead by Morgan Grams, an epidemiologist at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, found that PPIs appear to significantly elevate the chances of developing chronic kidney disease. The study involved more than 250,000 people. It is estimated that 15 million Americans use PPIs; common PPIs are Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid, meaning that many Americans are at risk.
In the 1980s, when PPIs were first approved, they were viewed as being very safe. Concerns about their safety have been mounting and various evidence has suggested that the drugs may increase the risk of certain health problems such as: infections, bone fractures and maybe even heart problems.
Given the risks associated with taking PPI medications many people are looking for alternative solutions to help them with their heartburn. The following study shows that ginger is a real substitute for PPI prescription medications.
Study: Ginger as a treatment for heartburn
A study published in the journal Molecular Research and Food Nutrition found compares the efficacy of acid-blocking drugs (PPIs) with the ginger root. The study aimed to find out the anti-ulcer and anti-Helicobacter plyori (Helicobacter plyori is a bacteria that is commonly associated with ulcer formation) ability of ginger extracts when compared to mainstream acid-blocking medicine such as lansoprazole (a PPI).
It was discovered that ginger performed six to eight times better than the drug (lansoprazole) did at inhibiting acid production. Moreover, it was also found that ginger has potent antioxidant properties. These antioxidant properties protect lipids from being spoiled and DNA from being damaged. Researchers concluded that ginger have “potential in-expensive multistep blockers against ulcer.”
While mainstream medical drugs removes stomach acid barrier, ginger does the opposite. It protects these barriers as it contains a proteolytic enzyme several hundred times more potent than the one found in papaya (papain). In addition to aiding with heartburn, ginger also has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-parasitic properties.
Getting started with ginger
The University of Maryland Medical Center prescribes taking no more than 2g to 4g of ginger. This is equivalent to 1 tsp. to 2 tsp. of fresh ginger root or ¼ of the amount of powdered ginger. You should never take more than 4 gm of ginger daily.
Fresh ginger root can be taken in the following ways:
- You can crush or grate the fresh ginger root and leave it to soak in water. You can then drink the water once the ginger has soaked sufficiently.
- You can chew a fresh piece of ginger, but make sure that you don’t swallow it.
- You can eat a ginger sweet.
- You may also add pieces of ginger to a cup of tea (such as chamomile tea).
- If you take ginger syrup or ginger capsules be sure to follow the dosage and instructions written on the package.
Be careful not to consume too much ginger as this may have adverse effects. Too much ginger may cause further heartburn or intervene with drugs that treat severe cases of heartburn. Be sure to consult your physician when trying ginger for heartburn.
“Given the fact that so many people use PPI medications, I think it is judicious to exercise some caution,” said Morgan Grams. Ginger has been proven to be a safe and real alternative to PPI medication. Ginger gives new hope to heartburn sufferers who do not want to risk the side effects of PPI medication but need an effective way to manage their heartburn disease.
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