Snuggle up to the Ginger Beside You

Fear not the 34 brave souls who follow my blog, I haven’t gone on yet another hiatus because I deluded myself into thinking that everything was fine and life in general would try to go my way. It hasn’t and it probably won’t. This week has been like any other week you can imagine that is followed by moving away for a year to a different country (again). Only more chaotic. The entire household came down with the devil spawn of the common cold virus, my flight time abruptly changed on me and now I am flying well after midnight, fun! I have had to juggle paperwork with the bank, paperwork at the dorm I will be staying in all the while hacking up half my lungs and the overwhelming feeling that a cat tried to crawl its way out through my throat.

Did I mention I have no room of my own in this house? It’s a four bedroom flat and yet no room that’s mine. So on top of the fever and the coughing and sneezing I also have to lug clothes and books from one room to the other and try not to make a mess in other people’s rooms. I can totally feel the love you guys had for me for the last three years family of mine, such love.

The one thing that was everywhere with me throughout this mess was ginger. Ginger in tea, thin slices of ginger to chew on and ginger in the chicken soup. It was the time of the ginger. Which got me thinking, why do we use ginger when we have a sore throat or a fever?

A wild Ginger appears! (I miss you SO much Donna)

Turns out, ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a remarkably useful medicinal herb. It has anti-inflammatory properties similar to Aspirin by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, a class of fatty acid-derived hormones (Fun fact#1: the Arachidonic acid is the cross roads acid that is converted either to prostaglandins or leukotrines and I was immensely proud of myself for remembering the name during my Biochemistry exam) only in a more potent manner. Prostaglandins basically control the contraction and relaxation of your smooth muscles in say your uterus, walls of your blood vessels and bring about a fever by acting on the thermostat of your body, the hypothalamus. This makes ginger both anti-inflammatory and antipyretic.

It also seems to decrease the contractility of the muscles by reducing the intake of calcium ions into the muscle cells, calcium being the ignition (so to speak) to the fire in your muscles that make them work. Ginger, the herb of many talents also has some antimicrobial and antiviral attributes, notably inhibiting growth of both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. These guys found that fresh ginger can inhibit the plaque formation of the Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus (HRSV) group that causes anything from common cold to pneumonia.

Now before you go chop yourself some slices of the mighty ginger, note that the state of the ginger seems to affect its performance. While some found that the antimicrobial properties of ginger appear to be sensitive to heat (hence boiling would be a no-no), charcoal or roasted ginger seems to have the edge on the anti-thrombotic property. Oh and also, consuming large amounts of ginger (> 6g) might give you diarrhoea, heart burn and a bad case of the gastric pains.

This has been a fever-induced rambling that kind of got away from me. I hope your health fares better than mine as I take a sip from this ginger-infused lemon tea.

Fun fact#2: One of my professors is working on the antimicrobial properties of ginger while another works on any potential anti-cancer properties.

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