The health benefits of ginger have been known since time immemorial. In addition to being one of the most known spices in the world, ginger is very common in Chinese herbal formulas. In the last few decades, it has been a popular subject among scientists and thousands of studies have been conducted on it, many of which confirm its traditional medicinal use.

There’s No Doubt in My Mind

I fully believe in the medicinal powers of ginger as I’ve used it myself for over three decades. I often use a tincture made from ginger for medicinal purposes, but I also recommend using it in cooking, I’ve used ginger to treat colds, the flu, rheumatic diseases, nausea, impotence and pain, often with very good results.

Fresh or Dried Ginger?

In Chinese herbal medicine, there’s a big difference between dried and fresh ginger. Dried ginger is considered better to treat joint pain, nausea, flatulence and to increase blood flow while fresh ginger is preferred when treating a cough, colds, the flu and gastrointestinal infections. In herbal medicine, herbs are rarely used by themselves, instead, herbalists mix many herbs together for the most effectiveness. It has long been known that ginger promotes the potency of other plants by increasing blood flow. It is thought that half of all Chinese herbal formulas contain ginger.

1. Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effect

Ginger contains gingerol, an active component that has a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect. I’ve used ginger for arthritis and osteoarthritis to reduce inflammation and joint pain.

2. Natural Pain Reliever and Muscle Relaxant

Studies on women have shown that ginger can have a pain relieving and muscle relaxing effect on menstrual cramps, especially if consumed at the beginning of the period. Studies have also shown that ginger can provide pain relief to those suffering from arthritis, especially in the knees. Also, ginger is known for reducing migraines.

3. Lowers Blood Sugar

Recent research on ginger has shown that it can lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. The same research showed that ginger can lower the risk of heart disease in people with diabetes.

4. Lowers Cholesterol

High cholesterol (LDL) is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Research on people with high cholesterol has shown that high doses of ginger can lower cholesterol (LDL).

5. Are You Nauseous?

Ginger is known for being effective at reducing nausea and various studies have proved that. It’s very effective against morning sickness and research on over 1200 women has showed that. Ginger is also used for motion sickness, nausea after surgery and nausea from cancer treatment.

6. Improves Digestion

Ginger is especially effective for all kinds of digestive issues such as bloating, intestinal colic and flatulence.

7. Effective Against Infections and Increases Blood Flow

Ginger is antibacterial and antiviral which makes it effective against gingivitis, gastrointestinal infections and food poisoning. It’s a popular remedy for coughing, sore throats, colds, the flu and asthma. Ginger improves circulation, warms cold hands and feet and lowers fever.

Strong Ginger Tea for Colds and the Flu

  • ½ dl fresh ginger juice
  • Juice from half a lemon or lime
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Organic honey to taste

Use a juicer to make juice from a big ginger root. Pour into a big cup and add hot water. Add lemon juice and cayenne pepper and honey to taste. Drink 3-4 cups per day. If you don’t have a juicer, you can chop or grate 7-10 cm of ginger finely and add hot water. Allow to sit with a lid on for at least an hour before adding the rest of the ingredients. Fresh ginger juice keeps for a few days in the fridge.

8. Helps with Weight Loss

Recent studies on humans and animals show that ginger can help with weight loss. It boosts metabolism and has an anti-inflammatory effect.

9. Protects Against Cancer

Studies have shown that gingerol, the active component in ginger, inhibits the growth of cancerous cells. Furthermore, some studies have shown that ginger can protect against pancreatic and liver cancer as well as breast and ovarian cancer.

10. Boosts Brain Health and Protects Against Alzheimer’s

Chronic inflammation in the body can accelerate aging. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect of ginger is thought to strengthen brain function, stimulate memory and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Research on Ginger

Thousands of studies have been conducted on ginger and many of those have focused on the active component gingerol. If you look at clinical trials that have been performed on ginger, you’ll find some interesting information.

  • Studies on 415 women have confirmed that ginger can reduce period cramps and some of the studies showed that ginger can be as effective as traditional pain killers.
  • Studies on 80 women that have obesity showed that ginger lowered BMI and insulin in the blood.
  • The effect of ginger on cholesterol (LDL) was researched in 60 individuals, which led to the conclusion that ginger can lower cholesterol.
  • Some studies have shown the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger on joint pain, especially arthritis. Also, ginger has been shown to reduce pain from migraines.
  • Studies on 41 individuals with type 2 diabetes show that ginger can lower blood sugar.
  • Research on 1278 women shows that ginger can relieve nausea during pregnancy.
  • The effect of ginger on nausea caused by cancer treatment has been researched extensively and the results show both positive effects and no significant effects. A study from 2013 conducted on 576 people revealed the positive effects of ginger on nausea caused by cancer treatment.

All of these studies are clinical, which means that they were conducted on people, but many test tube studies and studies on animals have also been conducted. These studies have shown, among other things, that ginger can lower blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol as well as have antibacterial, antiviral and fungicidal effects. Last but not least, ginger can inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Botanical Safety Handbook. 2013. AHPA (American Herbal Products Association). Second edition. CRC Press, Florida, USA.

Ding M, Leach M, Bradley H. The effectiveness and safety of ginger for pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting: a systematic review. Women Birth. 2013 Mar;26(1):e26-30. doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2012.08.001. Epub 2012 Aug 28.

Drozdov VN, Kim VA, Tkachenko EV, Varvanina GG. Influence of a specific ginger combination on gastropathy conditions in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Jun;18(6):583-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0202.

Ghayur MN, Gilani AH, Afridi MB, Houghton PJ. Cardiovascular effects of ginger aqueous extract and its phenolic constituents are mediated through multiple pathways. Vascul Pharmacol. 2005 Oct;43(4):234-41. Epub 2005 Sep 12.

Halder A. Effect of progressive muscle relaxation versus intake of ginger powder on dysmenorrhoea amongst the nursing students in Pune. Nurs J India. 2012 Jul-Aug;103(4):152-6.

Jenabi E. The effect of ginger for relieving of primary dysmenorrhoea. J Pak Med Assoc. 2013 Jan;63(1):8-10.

Marx WM, Teleni L, McCarthy AL, Vitetta L, McKavanagh D, Thomson D, Isenring E. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: a systematic literature review. Nutr Rev. 2013 Apr;71(4):245-54. doi: 10.1111/nure.12016. Epub 2013 Mar 13.

Mehdi M, Farhad G, Alireza ME, Mehran Y. Comparison Between the Efficacy of Ginger and Sumatriptan in the Ablative Treatment of the Common Migraine. Phytother Res. 2013 May 9. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4996. [Epub ahead of print]

Nafiseh KhandouziFarzad ShidfarAsadollah Rajab, Tayebeh RahidehPayam Hosseini, and Mohsen Mir Taheri. The Effects of Ginger on Fasting Blood Sugar, Hemoglobin A1c, Apolipoprotein B, Apolipoprotein A-I and Malondialdehyde in Type 2 Diabetic Patients.  2015 Winter; 14(1): 131–140.

Najmeh MaharloueiReza TabriziKamran B LankaraniAbbas RezaianzadehMaryam AkbariFariba Kolahdooz Maryam RahimiFariba KeneshlouZatollah Asemi. The effects of ginger intake on weight loss and metabolic profiles among overweight and obese subjects: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.2 019;59(11):1753-1766.  doi: 10.1080/10408398.2018.1427044. Epub 2018 Feb 2.

Nicoll R, Henein MY. Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe): a hot remedy for cardiovascular disease? Int J Cardiol. 2009 Jan 24;131(3):408-9. Epub 2007 Nov 26.

Ozgoli G, Goli M, Moattar F. Comparison of effects of ginger, mefenamic acid, and ibuprofen on pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Feb;15(2):129-32. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0311.

Palatty PL, Haniadka R, Valder B, Arora R, Baliga MS. Ginger in the prevention of nausea and vomiting: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(7):659-69. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.553751.

Rahnama P, Montazeri A, Huseini HF, Kianbakht S, Naseri M. Effect of Zingiber officinale R. rhizomes (ginger) on pain relief in primary dysmenorrhea: a placebo randomized trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Jul 10;12:92. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-12-92.

Ryan JL, Heckler CE, Roscoe JA, Dakhil SR, Kirshner J, Flynn PJ, Hickok JT, Morrow GR. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces acute chemotherapy-induced nausea: a URCC CCOP study of 576 patients. Support Care Cancer. 2012 Jul;20(7):1479-89. doi: 10.1007/s00520-011-1236-3. Epub 2011 Aug 5.

Shah Murad, Khalid Niaz and Hina Aslam. Effects of Ginger on LDL-C, Total Cholesterol and Body Weight. Clin Med Biochem 2018, 4:2 DOI: 10.4172/2471-2663.1000140.

Terry R, Posadzki P, Watson LK, Ernst E. The use of ginger (Zingiber officinale) for the treatment of pain: a systematic review of clinical trials. Pain Med. 2011 Dec;12(12):1808-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2011.01261.x. Epub 2011 Nov 4.

Thomson M, Corbin R, Leung L. Effects of ginger for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: a meta-analysis. J Am Board Fam Med. 2014 Jan-Feb;27(1):115-22. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2014.01.130167.

Vahideh Ebrahimzadeh AttariAlireza OstadrahimiMohammad Asghari JafarabadiSajjad Mehralizadeh & Sepideh Mahluji. Changes of serum adipocytokines and body weight following Zingiber officinale supplementation in obese women: European Journal of Nutrition volume 55, pages 2129–2136 (2016).

Caution

It‘s well known that big doses of ginger can cause indigestion, such as heartburn. Very big doses of fresh ginger juice can cause dry mouth, sore throat, nosebleeds and nephritis. It‘s not recommended to consume large amounts of ginger close to childbirth or if there‘s a history of miscarriage.

High doses of ginger may affect anticoagulants.

About the Author

Anna Rósa is a medical herbalist and author of the bestselling book Icelandic Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses. She’s the CEO and founder of Anna Rósa Skincare and a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists in UK. It’s the oldest herbalist institute in the world, founded in 1894.

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Anna Rósa CEO and Founder of Anna Rósa Skincare