Ginger has medicinal value that dates back thousands of years. It’s actually the rhizome of the ginger plant, and as a widely cultivated herb, it’s used in various forms across the world in foods, drinks, and beauty products.
Ancient texts and literature from the Middle East, Asia, and Europe talk of the immense benefits of the root. It’s also cousins with the famed turmeric root, cardamom, and galangal. In holistic medical practices such as Chinese and Indian Ayurveda, ginger is viewed as a gift from God. Ginger’s versatility is incredible, and it can be used in your everyday life. Read on to learn the health benefits of ginger.
1. Strengthens Immunity
Ginger helps improve the immune system. Consuming a little bit ginger a day can help foil potential risk of a stroke by inhibiting fatty deposits from the arteries. It also decreases bacterial infections in the stomach, and helps battle a bad cough and throat irritation.
2. Improves Circulation
Ginger gets the blood in your body flowing, which will give you a feeling of having more energy, and can help you with any feelings of sluggishness or fatigue. It’s a great thing to drink if you live in a cold climate, because it will provide the sort of warmth you’re really after, the kind that comes from the inside and radiates out. This is because it is opening your pores and getting your overall circulation functioning better.
3. Anti-Inflammatory Benefits on the Colon
A study carried out at the University of Michigan Medical School found that Ginger Root Supplement administered to volunteer participants reduced inflammation markers in the colon within a month.
4. Relieves Muscle Pain Caused by Exercise
A study involving 74 volunteers carried out at the University of Georgia found that daily ginger supplementation reduced exercise-induced muscle pain by 25%.
Patrick O’Connor, a professor in the College of Education’s department of kinesiology, and colleagues carried out two studies on the effects of 11 days of raw and heat-treated ginger supplementation on exercise-induced muscle pain.
The volunteers consumed the ginger supplements for 11 consecutive days. On the 8th day they performed 18 extensions of the elbow flexors with a heavy weight. The aim was to induce moderate muscle injury to the arm. Each participant’s arm function, inflammation, and pain levels were assessed before exercise and three days afterwards.
The researchers noted that the pain-reducing effect was not enhanced by heat-treating the ginger.
5. Ovarian Cancer Killer
A study found that exposing ovarian cancer cells to a solution of ginger powder resulted in their death in every single test. The cancer cells either died as a result of apoptosis (they committed suicide) or autophagy (they digested/attacked themselves).
The researchers, from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center added that the ginger solution also prevented the cancer cells from building up resistance to cancer treatment. The study findings were presented at the “American Association for Cancer Research” annual meeting in Washington D.C., 2006.
6. Treats Asthma Symptoms
Research by M.L. Ahui and colleagues published in the December 2008 issue of “International Immunopharmacology” found that ginger reduced airway inflammation leading the authors to conclude that it may provide a possible therapeutic application in the treatment of allergic asthma. However, the study was carried out in a mouse model of asthma, not in humans with the disease.
A study by M.N. Ghayur published in the May 2008 issue of the “Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology” also found that ginger inhibits airway contraction, but again, the study was undertaken in mice, not in humans.
7. Prevents Nausea and Motion Sickness
Ginger is well known for its ability to ease nausea, and it’s helpful for motion and sea sickness. Women suffering from morning sickness were given beverages with ginger during the first trimester of pregnancy, and when compared with women given a placebo, ginger alleviated the nausea in a large majority of the cases.
8. Useful for Diabetics
Studies show ginger may reduce urine protein levels, decrease water intake and urine output, and reverse proteinuria, which is kidney damage caused by too much protein in the urine. Ginger may also protect nerves in diabetics and lower blood fat levels. “Ginger can help increase circulation, thin blood, and lower both blood pressure and cholesterol,” says author Steelsmith.
9. Ginger for Joint Pain and Arthritis
Ginger has been used in Chinese, Japanese, and Indian medicine for hundreds of years. The roots and underground stems are the basis for powders, extracts, tinctures, capsules, and oils. The claims are that ginger decreases arthritis joint pain and inflammation.
There is little scientific evidence to support ginger for arthritis. But a 2008 study in the “British journal Food and Chemical Toxicology” showed that ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory, along with many other positive qualities. At least two additional studies have found similar effects in ginger extract. It is possible that dried ginger, such as the powdered spice or ginger capsules, is a more effective anti-inflammatory than fresh ginger.
10. Protects the Liver
Acetaminophen, known more commonly as “Tylenol” in the USA and “paracetamol” elsewhere, is a popular painkiller and antipyretic (reduces fever). However, acetaminophen is also associated with a higher risk of chemically-driven liver damage (hepatotoxicity), especially among patients with liver disorders.
Scientists at the National Research Centre in Egypt wanted to determine whether ginger pretreatment might reduce the incidence of acetaminophen-induced liver damage in rats.
The researchers wrote in the Journal of Dietary Supplements “Our results demonstrated that ginger can prevent hepatic injuries, alleviating oxidative stress in a manner comparable to that of vitamin E. Combination therapy of ginger and acetaminophen is recommended especially in cases with hepatic (liver) disorders or when high doses of acetaminophen are required.”
11. Lowers Cholesterol
The chemical compounds in ginger may help lower overall blood cholesterol, as well as low density lipoproteins, which are components of cholesterol that can contribute to heart disease, according to Castleman. Cholesterol and low density lipoproteins can contribute to sticky plaque along the walls of your arteries and blood vessels. This creates blockages that can contribute to high blood pressure by restricting the inner diameter of blood vessels and arteries. Plaque may also reduce the elasticity of your arteries, further contributing to high blood pressure.
12. Helps with Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Those suffering from IBS will be happy to note that getting more ginger should spell relief from the symptoms of the condition. The interesting thing to note is that it doesn’t seem to matter how you get the ginger into your system, whether including more ginger root in your cooking, taking ginger supplements, or brewing ginger tea, they all seem to have a calming effect on the bowels and digestive system.
13. Weight Loss Benefits of Ginger
Losing weight is one of the most significantly positive things you can do for your overall health, and ginger can play an integral role in the process. The reason is because it acts as a fat burner, specifically helping to make sure that the weight you’re losing is from fat, and not just general weight or water loss. Another factor that helps shed the pounds is that ginger helps you feel full, so you’ll eat less and feel fuller longer, reducing your overall caloric intake.
14. Helps Manage Glucose Levels
Research out of Australia suggests that ginger can help keep blood glucose levels in check. This is important because these levels have a direct impact on weight loss and weight gain, as well as how energetic or lethargic you feel throughout the day. If you’ve noticed that you get a midday crash it’s likely due to your blood sugar levels, and adding ginger to your lunch might help you stay focused and on task.
15. Helps the Body Absorb Nutrients
When you’re trying to lose weight getting the right nutrients is essential. But if your body is overweight and not used to getting the nutrients it needs, it may have become used to not getting the required vitamins and now it doesn’t properly absorb them. More ginger means that you’ll be better absorbing the sort of nutrients that will help you in your pursuit and get you better results more quickly with the same amount of effort.
16. Helps with Morning Sickness
Pregnant women might want to opt for more ginger intake when they are suffering from bouts of morning sickness. The ginger acts as calming agent, and when compared to a placebo came through with shining colors in clinical tests. It’s always fun when an all-natural remedy gets backed by scientific research. It’s as if science is finally figuring out that natural herbs and foods have great value.
17. Blocks Acid from Heartburn
If you frequently get heartburn, you should consider using ginger as a way to get around it. The excess acid that leads to the condition can be undone by the properties of ginger. The nice thing is that ginger is far more economical than an over-the-counter drug or a prescription drug on most health plans. Another side benefit is that there are no side effects to taking it, and it can be used for the long term with no worries.
18. Ginger Relieves Gas
Gas can be embarrassing at the wrong times, and there are a ton of anti-gas products on the market. If you’re looking for a more natural way to treat it you should start buying and using more ginger. Ginger tea is easy enough to make and drink and if you drink it before you go to sleep you can let it work overnight while you’re sleeping. It should act to clear out your digestive system and neutralize the problem from the inside.
19. Respiratory Benefits of Ginger
If you’re looking for sinus relief without having to resort to an over-the-counter drug, turn to ginger first. There is an active ingredient in ginger that has shown to work wonders on the sinuses, helping to unclog them and facilitate drainage. All you need to do is brew a nice cup of hot ginger tea to get the benefits without the use of medications with possible side effects.
20. Improves Your Breath
Unlike other foods like garlic, ginger can actually help improve the status of your breath. Eaten towards the end of your meal it can cleanse the palate and leave your mouth feeling refreshed. You can also drink it as a beverage mixed with simple hot water. It’s a great way to flush out your mouth and neutralize a bad taste in your mouth, like the dreaded “coffee breath” from drinking coffee.
21. Increases Sexual Desire
With an increased function in the circulatory system, it’s no wonder that ginger has been referenced as an aphrodisiac for thousands of years. It didn’t take long for people to make the connection that after consuming ginger they felt an extra pep in their step and felt like things were firing on all cylinders. The nice part is that it works for both sexes equally, since both the clitoris and penis rely heavily on circulation in order to become aroused and engorged.
22. Protects against Nuclear Radiation
Hopefully not something you have to worry about in the near future, but still good to know in case World War III breaks out. But those living near the Fukushima disaster area have given strong consideration to upping their ginger intake with this news. If you want to get the full benefits of this feature you’ll have to have a daily dose of ginger so it’s in your system, and stays there.
23. Relieves Painful Menstruation
Ginger can help reduce the symptoms of pain in primary dysmenorrhea (period pains), researchers from the Islamic Azad University in Iran reported in the “Journal of Pakistan Medical Association”.
Seventy female students were divided into two groups:
- The ginger group – they took capsules containing ginger.
- The placebo group – participants took capsules containing placebo.
The participants took their capsules for three days at the beginning of their menstruation cycles.
The researchers found that the 82.85% of the women taking the ginger capsules reported improvements in pain symptoms compared to 47.05% of those on placebo.
24. Cold and Flu Fighter
Chinese medicine practitioners commonly prescribe ginger to treat symptoms of colds and flu. The root acts as an antihistamine and decongestant, two cold-easing effects that can help with symptoms.
25. Helps Treating Migraines
Only a handful of research studies concerning the efficacy of ginger as a treatment for migraines have been published since 2000, but the results seem promising. One study, published in “Phytotherapy Research” in May 2013, compared the use of ginger supplements to the use of a common migraine remedy. The study found that the efficacy of ginger treatment was similar to the efficacy of the other remedy. Another study, published in the July/August 2011 issue of “Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain“, found that a sublingual combination of feverfew and ginger was safe as well as effective in migraine sufferers who usually have a minor headache prior to a migraine episode and took the combination at the onset of the minor headache.
26. Ginger Relieves Stress
Ginger tea has calming properties that may help lower your stress and tension. This is thought to be due to a combination of the strong aroma and healing properties.
27. Stimulates Appetite
If you have a sluggish digestive system and find that you need to get your digestive fires going before a meal, ginger can help. It may be the case that you don’t produce enough stomach acid, and ginger can act as an appetite stimulant, getting your digestive juices revved up so that you are able to digest your meal better. Improper digestion of foods leaves them fermenting in your digestive tract, and can contribute to weight gain.