Doing As the Romans Did

Last week I mentioned briefly that while ginger was known to the Romans, they didn’t actually eat it, preferring to use it as a medicine. It turns out they weren’t exactly crazy in that regard, since modern science has proven that ginger does indeed have medicinal properties. Now, I should insert here that I’m not exactly a member of the “natural” medicine crowd. When my head aches I reach for the aspirin (or the oxycodone), not an eyedropper of ginko extract. Yet I’m not immune to the idea that the foods we eat have implications for our health aside from weight and blood pressure.

So what exactly does ginger do? Though it’s been used for millennia to combat nausea, its main medicinal use has been as a mild anti-inflammatory. And indeed a variety of reliable studies has found that it is an effective treatment for long-term, low intensity inflammations like rheumatoid and osteo arthritis. Other studies have shown that ginger can also help relieve chronic pain by reducing levels of pain-causing hormones called prostaglandins. Being fortunate to have lived my life (so far) without any kind of chronic pain or inflammation, I can’t testify to ginger’s effectiveness. However if I did, I confess I’d be inclined to give this baker’s herbal medicine a try.

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