By Dr. Mercola

Ginger water, apple cider vinegar and bergamot oil are all known for their health benefits, so what could be better than combining them all into a tasty tea tonic that can be consumed hot or cold? A simple recipe to try is as follows:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 heaping tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
  • 2 to 3 drops bergamot oil
  • 1 tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Add freshly grated ginger to boiling water (1 tablespoon per cup) and steep for five to 10 minutes. The longer it steeps, the stronger the flavor
  2. Strain the liquid to remove the ginger
  3. Stir in the bergamot and apple cider vinegar
  4. For a cold beverage, chill in the refrigerator before consuming

Ginger — A Powerful Pain and Nausea Reliever

In addition to its delicious taste, ginger is associated with a long list of health benefits that have been known for at least 2,000 years or more. The most commonly used medicinal part of the plant is the rhizome, the root-like stem that grows underground. It’s a rich source of antioxidants, including gingerols, shogaols and zingerones. It also has powerful broad-spectrum antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic and analgesic properties, just to mention a few.

In all, ginger has about 40 different pharmacological actions. Two of its most well-recognized health benefits are easing pain and nausea. In one study,1 adults suffering from episodic migraines with or without aura had better outcomes when ginger was used as an add-on therapy, compared to pain medication alone.

In this case, the treatment group was given 400 milligrams (mg) of ginger extract in addition to 100 mg of intravenous ketoprofen. After one hour, those who received ginger reported a “significantly better clinical response” than the ketoprofen-only group. According to the authors, “ginger treatment promoted reduction in pain and improvement on functional status at all times assessed.” It can also help ease menstrual pain (primary dysmenorrhea). In fact, ginger has been found to be as effective as ibuprofen for this common condition.2

A 2015 review3 of nine studies and seven meta-analyses investigating ginger’s effectiveness against nausea showed it can help reduce nausea and vomiting associated with postoperative nausea, chemotherapy, viral infection and morning sickness.

According to the authors, “recent evidence has provided … support for 5-HT3 receptor antagonism as a mechanism by which ginger may exert its potentially beneficial effect on nausea and vomiting.” Many also use it to ease nausea associated with motion sickness and sea sickness.

Additional Health Benefits and Usage Tips

Other health benefits of ginger include but are not limited to:

Prevention4 and treatment5 of Type 2 diabetes, in part by improving blood sugar control6 and limiting diabetes complications7,8

Neuroprotective effects,9 including slowing the loss of brain cells associated with Alzheimer’s disease,10 and improving cognitive function11

Mitigating brain damage and reducing memory impairment caused by cerebral ischemia (stroke)12

Lowering your risk of several types of cancer, including cancer of the lungs, ovaries, colon, breast, prostate, pancreas and skin13,14,15,16,17,18

Counteracting fructose damage such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease19

Aiding weight loss by promoting satiety20 and enhancing digestion of fats21

Improving digestion, reliving gas and improving symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome

Reducing exercise-induced inflammation and muscle soreness22

Relieving heartburn

Protecting against respiratory viruses23 and drug-resistant bacterial and fungal infections24

Ginger is an excellent cooking staple worth keeping on hand at all times, and will keep fresh stored in the freezer. You can freeze the ginger either whole or pre-shredded. There’s no need to thaw it, as you can easily shred it frozen. Simply peel off the skin with a knife or peeler, then shred using a microplane or ceramic grater. The latter will give you a smoother, creamier consistency.

Bergamot Health Benefits and Contraindications

Bergamot oil, which has a sweet fruity orange-blossom aroma, is what gives Earl Grey and Lady Grey teas their distinct flavor. The fragrance alone has been shown to ease anxiety and depression. Like ginger, it also helps improve digestion and has powerful antimicrobial action. Bergamot oil is extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, which is native to Italy.

It should be used sparingly, however, as it contains a compound called bergapten, which acts as a potassium channel blocker. While rare, you could potentially end up with an electrolyte imbalance should you consume too much of it. Symptoms of potassium deficiency include muscle cramps and twitches, tinging sensations and blurred vision.

A 2002 case study25 published in The Lancet discusses the case of a man who drank up to 4 liters of black tea per day. As his favorite brand sometimes caused gastric pain, he switched to Earl Grey and developed muscle cramps after drinking it for one week.

His condition, “Earl Grey intoxication,” was deemed due to its potassium blocking effect. If you already have potassium deficiency, forgo adding bergamot to the recipe above.  With that caveat, bergamot does have a number of valuable health benefits. For example, bergamot oil has been shown to:

  • Alleviate symptoms and complications of bacterial infections, including Enterococcus faecium and Enterococcus faecalis bacteria, which are resistant to the potent antibiotic vancomycin26
  • Speed the healing process for cold sores, mouth ulcers and herpes.27 It also has a similar antibacterial effect on shingles and chickenpox, which are also caused by the varicella zoster virus from herpes
  • Prevent and improve skin conditions from fungal infections when used topically28
  • Reduce anxiety and stress when used in aromatherapy29
  • Research30 also shows bergamot has statin-like principles and carries the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaric acid (HMG) moiety. In other words, it acts much like a statin does

Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another kitchen staple with myriad uses and benefits. Traditionally, apple cider vinegar is made through a long, slow fermentation process that renders it rich in bioactive components like acetic acid, gallic acid, catechin, epicatechin, caffeic acid and more, giving it potent antioxidant, antimicrobial and many other beneficial properties.

“Mother” of vinegar, a cobweb-like amino acid-based substance found in unprocessed, unfiltered vinegar, indicates your vinegar is of the best quality. Most manufacturers pasteurize and filter their vinegar to prevent the mother from forming, but the “murky” kind is actually best, especially if you’re planning to consume it. Health benefits associated with apple cider vinegar consumption include but are not limited to:

Improved blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity in those with prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes31

Easing sore throat when gargled (mixed with warm water) or consumed with honey and ginger32

Improved heart health. Polyphenols such as chlorogenic acid help inhibit oxidation of LDL cholesterol,33 while acetic acid helps lower blood pressure.34
It’s also been shown to lower triglyceride levels and very low density lipoprotein cholesterol in animals35

Easing digestive ailments such as acid reflux, intestinal spasms and Candida overgrowth. For everyday gut health, a mixture of 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with 1 teaspoon of raw honey in 1 cup of warm water can be helpful

Improved weight management by increasing satiety36

Boosting energy. Apple cider vinegar contains potassium and enzymes to help banish fatigue. Plus, its amino acids may help prevent the buildup of lactic acid in your body, further preventing fatigue37

Easing sinus congestion when used as a nasal rinse,38 as it helps break up and reduce mucus. It also has antibacterial properties, making it useful for infections

Supporting detoxification and healthy immune function. According to the website The Truth About Cancer,39 “Especially in patients who are immunosuppressed, apple cider vinegar is an excellent natural antimicrobial tonic to rid the body of harmful bacteria and provide immune support”





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