(NaturalNews) Ginger has been used as a natural treatment for a host of illnesses -- especially gastrointestinal problems -- for thousands of years in ancient healing traditions including Ayurvedic medicine, ancient Chinese medicine and western folklore, too. In fact, countless grandmas have recommended ginger ale to kids with upset tummies and ginger tea to pregnant moms suffering from morning sickness. But evidence is accumulating that ginger's ability to soothe and heal the digestive tract is anything but a myth.
Now there's research showing ginger may help prevent colon cancer. Ginger supplements were found to reduce markers of colon inflammation in a group of research subjects , according to a study funded by a National Cancer Institute grant and recently published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Suzanna M. Zick, N.D., M.P.H., a research assistant professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, and her research team studied 30 volunteers, who were randomly assigned to take either two grams of ginger root supplements daily or placebo for 28 days. After four weeks, the scientists measured markers of standard levels of colon inflammation.
The results? The inflammation markers, which have been implicated in previous studies as a precursor to colon cancer, were significantly reduced in the people taking ginger. This is crucially important because these inflammation markers have been implicated in prior studies as a precursor to colon cancer.
Ginger may be a powerful cancer preventative
"We need to apply the same rigor to the sorts of questions about the effect of ginger root that we apply to other clinical trial research," said Dr. Zick, a naturopathic doctor, in a statement to the media. "Interest in this is only going to increase as people look for ways to prevent cancer that are non-toxic, and improve their quality of life in a cost-effective way."
Other investigators, who have studied the potential healing properties of ginger, have discovered it contains zingibain, a type of enzyme that possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties. This ability to dampen down inflammation may be one way ginger could help prevent colon cancer. It could also explain why some studies have found that ginger also helps arthritis sufferers by reducing the inflammation that causes their pain.
The National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is currently studying the medicinal use of ginger, too. So far, NCCAM has concluded ginger may alleviate post-surgery nausea as well as nausea caused by chemotherapy, pregnancy and motion sickness.
About the author: Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA''''s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine''''s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic''''s "Men''''s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.