Healing Quest

Healing Quest

Judy Brooks and Roy Walkenhorst are the hosts of Healing Quest on KFBK and talk about their decades in Sacramento-area and national media, and what...Full Bio





The founder of the American Botanical Council helps us understand why these two spices, which have been in use for thousands of years, are now being tested for their unique healing properties: ginger as an antiviral and fever reducer; turmeric as a pain reliever and inflammation remedy.

Our friend Mark Blumenthal, the founder of the American Botanical Council, has a riddle for us:

What plant can be used as a food, a spice, a candy, a medicine and a dietary supplement. ?

Answer: Spice.

Mark told us ginger has been in use for thousands of years and been called the mother of all herbs.  He said: “Ginger has been used for its heat producing properties in traditional medicine in Asia, Chinese Traditional Medicine; Ayurveda, the classic medicine of India;.  In modern times, especially here in the United States, probably one of the most popular uses of ginger is as a dietary supplement to help prevent motion sickness. “

In some countries ginger is approved as a drug.   He told us that clinical studies have shown that using ginger 30 minutes or more before a car trip or even going on an ocean vessel can help reduce or prevent motion sickness and nausea associated with travel.

In addition he said ginger is getting good reviews in helping expectant mothers with numerous clinical trials showing the safety and efficacy of using ginger preparations to prevent morning sickness.

Another emerging area of research is whether ginger can help treat post-operative nausea.  Ginger is also a natural antiviral that helps fight illness and the bacteria that causes colds.  It helps stimulate perspiration that cleanses the system and lowers body temperature. It acts as an antihistamine and decongestant that helps ease cold systems.  And it’s a natural pain and fever reducer.

It’s an easy home remedy: a cup of boiling water, grated ginger, fresh squeezed lemon juice and a tablespoon of honey.  It boosts the immune system and soothes your throat.

When it comes to ginger as an ingredient in a tea or packaged product Mark told us to look for the words “pharmacopeial grade” on the ingredients list to see if the ginger being used is medicinal quality.  

Mark said ginger is a spice that he recommends everyone have in their kitchen along with another well-known spice: turmeric.  It’s a yellow root that’s well known in many parts of the world but that’s now attracting growing attention from western scientists.

He said: “Everybody is familiar with turmeric even if you don’t know it: it’s the yellow that makes yellow mustard yellow.  Turmeric’s been used in traditional systems of medicine going back thousands of years, especially in Asia where it’s native. 

“Today one of the most interesting and promising uses of turmeric is as an anti-inflammatory, especially when Vioxx and some of these drugs were pulled off the market a few years ago because of potential safety concerns.” 

Mark said turmeric is proving to have benefits beyond helping reduce inflammation. He said it’s also being studied as a pain reliever:  “There is a new interest in finding natural safe materials like herbal preparations that might be usable instead of pharmaceutical drugs.  During this time turmeric has emerged as probably the biggest contender for the position. 

“Clinical trials show that turmeric root can reduce pain in people with certain kinds of arthritis.  Scientists at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston Texas are focusing on curcumen from turmeric as potential preventative and/or as an adjunct for a whole wide variety of cancer uses.”

In addition to mustard turmeric is the spice that makes curry yellow.  And it’s easy to cook with.  It has a mild taste and can easily be added to soups, vegetables and salads. 

And Mark has one final recommendation: “The next time you’re at the ballpark and you’re thinking about putting some mustard on that hot dog, go for it.”

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