Ginger is one of the healthiest and tastiest spices known. It is closely related to turmeric; the root or rhizome is the part of the plant eaten. The bioactive ingredient gingerol provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Ginger can be added to meals fresh, ground, dried, or as a tea.
Ginger is highly effective for treating nausea and upset stomach. It warms and soothes the bowel and is often used to combat motion sickness and nausea associated with chemotherapy. Ginger is a “Qi Tonic”, which means it provides energy, or Qi, to the body. One effect is improved stomach emptying, which moves the food through the bowels and decreases discomfort and bloating after eating. This effect reduces acid reflux and the associated discomfort. It can take the place of famotidine or other antacids when trying to decrease burping and reflux symptoms in our pets. It may also help decrease risk of bloat in breeds prone to that disorder. Ginger stimulates production of saliva and bile, helping digest food more efficiently.
Ginger stimulates the secretion of bile and may be helpful for animals with gall bladder inflammation or stone formation. Start with very low doses and watch for any stomach upset.
Ginger extract can inhibit the growth of bacteria and has proven to be very beneficial for treating cases of stomatitis and gingivitis (inflammation of the mouth and gums). Ginger has been shown to be effective against Salmonella. There are some indications of antiviral activity as well.
Studies have shown ginger to be effective in decreasing muscle and joint pain associated with exercise and osteoarthritis, allowing patients to decrease the amount of medication needed. The anti-inflammatory effects can help with any inflammatory disease process in the body.
Ginger can help lower and stabilize blood sugar in diabetes, which may help decrease insulin requirements. If adding ginger to the diet of your diabetic pet, be sure to monitor and be watchful for episodes of low blood sugar (weakness, lethargy, stumbling, seizures).
High cholesterol and triglycerides are often seen in certain breeds, like Schnauzers, and can also be associated with low thyroid function or hypothyroid disease. Studies have shown significant reductions in cholesterol and triglycerides in animals and humans fed ginger.
Early studies have indicated that gingerol may help prevent or combat some forms of cancer, specifically pancreatic, mammary, colon, prostate, and ovarian cancer. One study showed that ginger killed lymphosarcoma cells in a laboratory setting. Additional studies are needed to confirm mechanisms of action.
Ginger has been shown to improve reaction time and working memory in people and helps protect against age-related decline in brain function. The same could hold true for senior pets with cognitive dysfunction (dementia).
Ginger is soothing and helps decrease mucous production, which is great for treating coughs, colds, and sinus infections. Animals can be given ginger tea, which most of them enjoy.
Clinical findings on Ginger reveal that it possesses a broad range of antiparasitic effects. This property has been demonstrated with nematodes or roundworms and Filaria, which are heartworms. One report showed 98 percent reduction in Filaria in dogs. Another study showed dramatic reduction in Giardia cysts in children when extracts of ginger were combined with cinnamon extracts.
Ginger also contains beta-carotene, capsaicin, caffeic acid, curcumin, and salicylate, all of which contribute to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant functions.
Side effects of ginger when fed in large quantities may include stomach irritation, especially if given on an empty stomach. Ginger can decrease clotting ability, as it stimulates blood movement. Use with caution in any pet with a bleeding disorder.
Ginger will help lower blood pressure; animals that take medications to reduce blood pressure should be watched closely for signs of weakness or fainting.
I add ginger to every home-made meal I make for my pets. 1/4 teaspoon ground fresh root for my 15 to 25 pound dogs keeps them fit and healthy, along with fresh, wholesome foods.