The health benefits of ginger suggest a variety of powerful therapeutic and preventive effects. For thousands of years ginger was used for the treatment of hundreds of ailments from colds to cancer.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe, Zingiberaceae) is one of the most commonly used dietary condiments in the world (Surh et al. 1999). Ginger is a member of a plant family that includes cardamom and turmeric. Its spicy aroma is mainly due to presence of ketones, especially the gingerols, which appear to be the primary component of ginger studied in much of the health-related scientific research. Ginger’s current name comes from the Middle English gingivere, but this spice dates back over 3000 years to the Sanskrit word srngaveram, meaning “horn root,” based on its appearance. In Greek, it was called ziggiberis, and in Latin, zinziberi. Interestingly, ginger does not grow in the wild and its actual origins are uncertain.
One of the many health benefits of ginger is its effectiveness in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. Herbalists regard ginger as an excellent carminative (a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract). Fortunately modern scientific research indicates that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.
At least 115 constituents in fresh and dried ginger varieties have been identified by a variety of analytical processes. Gingerols are the major constituents of fresh ginger and are found slightly reduced in dry ginger, whereas the concentrations of shogaols, which are the major gingerol dehydration products, are more abundant (Jolad et al. 2005) in dry ginger than in fresh ginger.
Remarkable Health Benefits of Ginger
- enhances brain function
- lowers risk of infections
- may help thin the blood
- freshens breath
- helps with intestinal gas
- supports healthy digestion
- anti-inflammatory effects
- antioxidant activity
- supports healthy blood sugar levels
- protects against colorectal cancer
- induces cell death in ovarian cancer cells
- promotes healthy sweating
- supports immune system
- free radical protection
- lessens depletion of glutathione
- prevents symptoms of motion sickness, especially seasickness
- relieves nausea
- diminishes morning sickness
- may reduce muscle pain and soreness
- may help with osteoarthritis of the knee
- reduces menstrual pain
- excellent for colds & flu
- supports healthy digestion
- relieves headaches & migraines
- relieves rheumatoid arthritis pain
- decreases age-related oxidative stress markers
- anti-cancer properties
- helps with asthma
- exerts radio-protective effects in mice exposed to gamma radiation
- supports healthy cholesterol levels
Healthy Ginger Root Tea Recipe
5 thin slices of raw ginger
1 ½ – 2 cups of purified water
½ – 1 lemons, squeezed
1-2 tablespoons raw honey
1-2 cloves crushed garlic
½ teaspoon seaweed
1-2 sticks of cinnamon
Boil water & meanwhile, grate ginger slices. Pour into a tea kettle. Add the ginger, lemon juice, honey, & optional ingredient(s). Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes. Strain into a cup or mug & enjoy!
Research & References
Ann M. Bode and Zigang Dong. The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors.Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011.
El-Sharaky et al. 2009
Topic B, Tani E, Tsiakitzis K, Kourounakis P. N, Dere E, Hasenohrl R. U, Hacker R, Mattern C. M, Huston J. P. Enhanced maze performance and reduced oxidative stress by combined extracts of zingiber officinale and ginkgo biloba in the aged rat. Neurobiol Aging. 2002;23(1):135–43.
Jagetia G. C, Baliga M. S, Venkatesh P, Ulloor J. N. Influence of ginger rhizome (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) on survival, glutathione and lipid peroxidation in mice after whole-body exposure to gamma radiation. Radiat Res. 2003;160(5):584–92. [PubMed]
Young H. Y, Luo Y. L, Cheng H. Y, Hsieh W. C, Liao J. C, Peng W. H. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of -gingerol. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005;96(1-2):207–10. [PubMed]
Effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on heavy menstrual bleeding: a placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2015 Jan;29(1):114-9. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5235. Epub 2014 Oct 8.
Reginster J. Y, Gillot V, Bruyere O, Henrotin Y. Evidence of nutriceutical effectiveness in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2000;2(6):472–7. [PubMed]
Altman R. D, Marcussen K. C. Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2001;44(11):2531–8. [PubMed]
Comparison between the efficacy of ginger and sumatriptan in the ablative treatment of the common migraine. Phytother Res. 2014 Mar;28(3):412-5. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4996. Epub 2013 May 9.
Langmead L, Rampton D. S. Review article: Herbal treatment in gastrointestinal and liver disease-benefits and dangers. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2001;15(9):1239–52. [PubMed]
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.
Aikins Murphy P. Alternative therapies for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol. 1998;91(1):149–55. [PubMed]
Sharma S. S, Gupta Y. K. Reversal of cisplatin-induced delay in gastric emptying in rats by ginger (Zingiber officinale) J Ethnopharmacol. 1998;62(1):49–55. [PubMed]
Shukla Y, Singh M. Cancer preventive properties of ginger: A brief review. Food Chem Toxicol. 2007;45(5):683–90. [PubMed]
Kapadia G. J, Azuine M. A, Tokuda H, Hang E, Mukainaka T, Nishino H, Sridhar R. Inhibitory effect of herbalremedies on 12 -O -tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate-promoted Epstein-Barr virus early antigen activation. Pharmacol Res. 2002;45(3):213–20. [PubMed]
Nicoll R, Henein M. Y. Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe): A hot remedy for cardiovascular disease? Int J Cardiol. 2009;131(3):408–9. [PubMed]
The World’s Healthiest Foods. Ginger. www.whfoods.com