The Scientific Data Behind Ginger’s Health Benefits
Ginger is one of the most common spices that you’ll find in recipes – whether you are craving something sweet or want to prepare a meal, this is a versatile spice that has many uses. The flavor of ginger is often described as someone peppery and zesty. While a very tasty plant root, ginger is also packed with nutrients that are good for you. Plus, this spice is just so easy to use in everyday cooking and baking scenarios.
Sure, we may all know ginger as something that we add to food – think ginger cookies and Indian cuisines, for example. Did you know that ginger actually has medicinal uses as well? People have used ginger for a long time to treat nausea – this is something that you probably know already, but did you know that ginger can also help to soothe your stomach and can even bring down inflammation in your body?
Let’s take a closer look at how this plant root can benefit your health – in addition to your tastebuds!
What Is Ginger?
The rhizome of the ginger plant (its root) is known to be packed with nutrients like:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
What Are The Health Benefits Of Ginger?
1. Value your time.
A review study1 conducted by the School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Sciences in the United Kingdom analyzed multiple previous scientific papers to determine the potential efficacy of ginger as an anti-nausea and anti-vomiting agent. The study found that ginger was superior to the placebo drug utilized in many of these studies at treating both patients who were nauseous, as well as those who vomited. Furthermore, some studies have suggested that the anti-nausea effects of ginger are similar to what can be achieved through the use of drug Metoclopramide.
Ginger seems to be effective in treating nausea and vomiting in the following conditions:
- Morning sickness
- Nausea caused by chemotherapy
Ginger has many other health benefits and medicinal uses, apart from its ability to effectively alleviate nausea. Let’s consider a few of these additional benefits and see what scientific data are available to back up such claims.
2. Ginger Helps With Muscle Pain
Some studies have shown that ginger may have a positive impact on people who experience muscle pain. A scientific paper2 in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine explains that ginger is not only known to possess potent anti-oxidant potential, but also has anti-inflammatory properties. This is essentially what contributes to improvements in muscle soreness.
In one study3, scientists asked participants to perform elbow exercises, also known as eccentric exercises in the study. The goal was to induce some level of muscle pain with the utilization of the specific exercise protocols introduced to the participants. Both raw and heat-treated ginger administration to the participants yielded a significant level of relief in terms of the muscle pain experienced.
It should be noted, however, that these properties are not immediate when it comes to ginger in particular. Instead, a daily administration of ginger is advised as the effects may take some time to become present – which makes ginger a good option for people who frequently participate in exercise and would like to reduce the level of strain and pain they experience from their activities.
3. Ginger Can Reduce Joint Pain
In addition to helping relieve muscle pain, people with joint pain related to osteoarthritis may also be able to benefit from the use of ginger. Similarly, the anti-inflammatory effects of the ginger plant are what comes into play here.
In a study4 conducted by scientists at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center, along with the University of Miami, a total of 261 patients were assigned to a random group. All patients had been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in one or both knees. Pain in patients was rated from moderate to severe. One group were provided with a ginger extract on a daily basis, while the other group received a placebo treatment.
At the end of the study, 63% of the individuals who were part of the ginger group reported a significant improvement in their knee pain. Only 50% of the people who were part of the control group had experienced an improvement in their symptoms.
4. Ginger Can Lower Your Blood Sugar
High blood glucose content is considered an epidemic today, causing millions of people to develop insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. These conditions are contributing to many deaths each year. Studies have found that ginger may also be useful for bringing down blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for people who are at risk of type 2 diabetes, as well as those already diagnosed with the condition.
A study5 published in the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research considered the impact that ginger had on both blood sugar levels and heart disease risk factors. During the study, scientists provided patients with a daily two-gram dosage of ginger root powder. The study was conducted over a 12-week period.
The fasting blood sugar levels of patients who consumed the ginger root powder on a daily basis were lowered by an average of 12%. Furthermore, there was also an average reduction of 10% in the HbA1c readings in the patients who had taken the ginger extract.
5. Ginger Helps To Improve Chronic Indigestion
Chronic indigestion affects a large number of people and leads to recurrent pain in the upper region of the area where the stomach is located. Discomfort is another symptom that people tend to experience when they suffer from chronic indigestion. Scientists believe that a delay in stomach emptying has a major impact on chronic indigestion.
In a study6 led by scientists at the Chang Gung University in Taiwan, it was found that the administration of 1.2mg ginger extract could help to speed up stomach emptying. The participants who had consumed the ginger extract after consuming a low-nutrient soup had a 50% increase in the rate at which their stomach was emptied.
How Is Ginger Used?
You know ginger well from your time spent in the kitchen. Not only does ginger go well with many meals, but it can be used to make cookies, cakes, candy, and more. You can get your hands on dry ginger in powdered form or fresh ginger at the local store. You can also buy capsules that contain ginger. Ginger is sometimes found in juices and let’s not forget the fact that herbal stores will be able to sell you ginger essential oils.
Are There Any Side-Effects Associated With Ginger?
Ginger is usually safe to eat when you add it to food. The spice can add great flavor to many dishes. You can also experience many benefits of ginger by drinking tea that is infused with the spice.
When taking a capsule that contains ginger, however, there are certain possible side-effects that you should know. The side-effects do not happen to everyone, but you should still know that they can happen.
Some of the potential side-effects that have been noted by people who use ginger include7:
- Throat irritation
- Mouth irritation
- Abdominal discomfort
- An increased tendency to bleed
If you take too much ginger, then you are at risk of other side-effects. Overdosing on ginger can cause:
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Depression of the central nervous system
You are probably already using ginger in many of the foods you make – perhaps there is a piece of fresh ginger laying in your fridge right now. What you may not know is that ginger is not only good for adding flavor to your meals, but it also offers you some great benefits. You can treat nausea, relieve indigestion, and even treat arthritis-related pain with this simple spice.
1 E. Enrst, M.H. Pittler. Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. British Journal of Anaesthesia. Mar 2000. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10793599
2 N.S. Mashhadi, R. Ghiasvand, G. Askari, M. Hariri, L. Darvishi, M.R. Mofid. Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence. International Journal of Preventative Medicine. Apr 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/
3 C.D. Black, M.P. Herring, D.J. Hurley, P.J. O’Connor. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces muscle pain caused by eccentric exercise. Official Journal of the American Pain Society. 24 Apr 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20418184
4 R.D. Altman, K.C. Marcussen. Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Journal of Arthritis and Rheumatism. Nov 2001. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11710709
5 N. Khandouzi, F. Shidfar, A. Rajab, T. Rahideh, P. Hosseini, M.M. Taheri. The Effects of Ginger on Fasting Blood Sugar, Hemoglobin A1c, Apolipoprotein B, Apolipoprotein A-I and Malondialdehyde in Type 2 Diabetic Patients. Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research. 2015. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-ginger#section5
6 K.L. Wu, C.K. Rayner, S.K. Chuah, C.S. Changchien, S.N. Lu, Y.C. Chiu, K.W. Chiu, C.M. Lee. Effects of ginger on gastric emptying and motility in healthy humans. European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology. May 2008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18403946
7 J.P. Cunha. Ginger. RxList. https://www.rxlist.com/consumer_ginger_african_ginger/drugs-condition.htm