The Miracle of Mint and Gentleness of Ginger
With stomach pain and nausea being among the most common symptoms of cancer treatment, mint and ginger become aides in helping to combat these uncomfortable side effects.
If you prefer a more natural drug alternative that also posses nutrients and soothing flavors, adding ginger or mint into your diet will prove beneficial.
“Ginger and mint are rich in antioxidants and also have anti-inflammatory properties,” said Jill Ligon, RD, LD/N, chief enrichment officer with Kailo Nutrition in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. “Another benefit is they add flavor without additional calories, sugar, fat or sodium.”
While this sounds great you may be questioning how exactly a root and a plant can help your health. With these flavorful herbs, a little goes a long way.
“The most active ingredient in ginger are gingerols, which give ginger its distinct taste and smell,” said Ligon. “Studies have found that gingerols block the transmission of neurotransmitters in the gastrointestinal tract that are responsible for the control of nausea and vomiting.”
Translation? Mint is a relaxer and soother.
“The muscle contractions that occur in the abdomen and diaphragm cause nausea,” said Ligon. “Muscle contraction and relaxation is regulated by calcium. Once calcium reaches a certain level the muscles are able to contract. Mint slows the flow of calcium into muscle tissues, allowing stomach muscles to relax.”
There are a few precautions to ginger as it may interact with anticoagulant medications such as aspirin, causing some bruising or bleeding. Individuals who take medication for diabetes or high blood pressure are also cautioned against ginger. Mint is slightly less restrictive and only cautioned against for people with hiatal hernias or GERD as too much mint can cause heartburn.
It should also be noted that these herbs can — and in some cases should — be paired with anti-nausea medications for best results.
A wonderful attribute to both is the versatility of tasty options mint and ginger lend themselves to.
“One easy way to add ginger or mint to your diet is in smoothies,” said Ligon. “Smoothies are great options for people going through cancer treatment. When you don’t feel like eating this can be a good way to pack in a lot of nutrients.”
Dr. Ligon shared with us two of her favorite smoothie recipes. One smoothie tastes just like a thin mint cookie!
Thin Mint Cookie Smoothie
1 ripe banana, peeled and frozen
½ cup of spinach
1 cup of non-dairy milk
1 ½ tablespoons cocoa nibs or bittersweet chocolate chips
2 drops mint oil
Mango Carrot Ginger Smoothie
1 mango peeled and sliced into chunks
½ orange, peeled and quartered
1 large carrot, sliced
1 ½ cups soymilk
1 (1 inch) piece peeled fresh ginger
6 ice cubes
If a meal seems too much, sipping on an herbal tea can work just as well. For a tasty ginger tea, cut a one-inch piece of ginger into thin slices and boil for 10 minutes in 1-2 cups of water. Remove ginger slices, add the juice of ½ a lime and enjoy.
Lemongrass mint tea is very refreshing. Boil 4 cups of water with 2 cups of roughly chopped lemongrass stalks and 2 sprigs of mint for 5 minutes then reduce heat to low and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Strain lemongrass and mint from the liquid and enjoy.