12 Surprising Health Benefits of Ginger – Backed By Science

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12 Health Benefits of GingerIf there’s one spice that screams “Winter approaches!” it’s ginger. With its pungent sweetness and subtle spicy kick, it’s the spice that gives many of your favorite fall and winter drinks and sweets their signature taste. Pumpkin spice lattes and gingerbread cookies would be sad shells of their glorious selves without ginger to lend them some life.

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Beyond adding flavor to some of your favorite treats, ginger lends a fair dose of health benefits to your body. Widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, ginger has a long history of medicinal use.

Whether fresh or dry, as a warming tea or spicy addition to your favorite dish, ginger provides unparalleled flavor and health benefits. Read on for 12 ways ginger can boost your health.

1. Soothes a Queasy Stomach Caused by Motion Sickness

Traditionally, ginger has been used to remedy many types of tummy troubles. One of the main symptoms of motion sickness is an upset stomach. Which ginger handles masterfully.

In a 2003 study, 1 gram of ginger was found to effectively delay the onset of nausea in people with a history of motion sickness. It also shortened recovery time. So people felt better, sooner [1].

While the results from other studies have been mixed, no serious side effects have been found. If you suffer from motions sickness, ginger is certainly worth giving a go.

2. Manages Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is pretty common during the first trimester of pregnancy. Sometimes, nausea and vomiting go on well past the 14 weeks mark. And despite its name, it can occur at any time throughout the day.

Since it's so unpleasant, common, and potentially dangerous, finding trusted remedies has been something women have been looking for for a very long time.

One of the most trusted folk remedies for morning sickness, ginger, is also backed by science. A 2015 Cochrane Review analyzed the results of 13 studies assessing the use of ginger in nausea and vomiting caused by pregnancy. Though the findings were inconsistent, overall, ginger seems to be both a safe and possibly effective treatment for pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting [2].

3. Relieves Post-op Nausea

Nausea is a common complaint following surgery. Medication, dehydration, low blood sugar, and anesthesia are a few of the reasons you may have an upset stomach after surgery.

In the case of outpatient gynecological laparoscopy, ginger taken 1 hour before the procedure reduced the incidence of nausea in the experiment group [3].

Because ginger can increase bleeding and hamper clotting, it’s recommended you take a break from medicinal amounts of ginger for two weeks prior to any surgery. And always let your doctor or dentist know if you've been taking large doses of ginger before a procedure.

4. Boosts Blood Circulation

Ginger is a great herb if you’re looking to promote circulation to your organs and extremities. Maybe that's why it's been so widely used as an aphrodisiac.

If you have cold hands or feet, give a cup of warm ginger tea a try. You should experience a warming sensation in both in a short amount of time. [4]

5. Supports Cardiovascular Health

With heart disease being a leading cause of mortality, heart health is at the forefront of many health conscious minds. Ginger, with its positive affect on cholesterol levels, is a heart-healthy herb, bar none.

A 2008 study showed ginger reduced triglyceride, cholesterol, and LDL levels. Those in the treatment group received 3g grams of ginger in a capsule form, 1g, 3 times per day for 45 days with positive results[5].

Adding ginger to each meal or drinking it in a beverage three times per day, might be a wise option for anyone with a family or personal history of high cholesterol.

6. Protects Against Oxidative Stress

One of the underlying factors behind a number of chronic diseases is cell damage caused by oxidative stress. Fortunately, you can counter the effects of oxidative stress by eating a diet high in antioxidants. And lucky for you, ginger is rich in antioxidants.

Ginger contains antioxidant compounds that are 40 times more potent than vitamin E [6]. As a major source of antioxidants, it could play a role in preventing a lot of diseases like arteriosclerosis, dementia, and certain cancers.

7. Dampens Inflammation

Inflammation and oxidative damage often go hand in hand. Both play a role in the development of diseases and both can occur as the result of diseases. Putting a damper on inflammation can go a long way in keeping you well.

One of the best ways to reduce inflammation is by eating plenty of foods packed with anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger definitely fits the bill.

Ginger contains a number of anti-inflammatory compounds. Studies have shown supplementing with ginger extracts results in lower levels of inflammatory markers, indicating ginger decreases inflammation [7].

8. Promotes Blood Sugar Balance

With diabetes and insulin resistance on the rise, it has never been more important to find ways to keep your blood sugar steady. Ginger may provide a novel way to do just that.

One small study of 20 60-year-olds with diabetes aimed to discover if ginger could improve blood sugar levels. The study participants were given 3 grams of powdered ginger for 3 months.  The ginger supplementation resulted in an improvement of their Hgb A1c, serum glucose, and insulin levels. Plus, it lowered insulin resistance [8].

9. Enhances Joint Health

Ginger has been used by herbalists and traditional healers as a pain reliever for arthritis for centuries with great success. We now have experimental data that supports their anecdotal data.

In a six week 2001 intervention, a standardized ginger extract was given to patients with osteoarthritis. 63% of the patients receiving the active intervention reported less knee pain compared to 50% in the placebo group [9].

10. Provides PMS Pain Relief

Premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea are two of the most common women’s health issues. The pain of menstrual cramps can be so excruciating, many women have to miss days of work. If you’re a woman who depends on painkillers to get through your period, adding ginger to your diet may be an alternative way to get some relief.

A group of women, between the ages of 18 and 35, participated in a double-blind controlled trial to determine the effect of ginger on PMS symptoms. The intervention group took two capsules of ginger from 1 week prior to their period to 3 days into their period for three menstrual cycles [10].

The women in the ginger group experienced an improvement in their PMS symptoms starting from the first month and continuing to improve each month.

11. Takes the Sting Out of Post-exercise Soreness

There’s no denying exercise is good for your health. The benefits are well documented. But for many people, the resulting pain, discomfort, and soreness make physical activity far less appealing. In some cases, it completely deters people from exercising at all. Thankfully, taking ginger prior to exercise might decrease soreness.

One study, published in 2015, showed taking 4 grams of ginger a day for 5 days prior to exercise hastened muscle recovery time. This allowed the exercised muscles to regain their strength sooner than they would have without ginger [11].

12. Minimizes Migraine Discomfort

Migraines can be crippling and incredibly difficult to treat. With some foods being possible triggers, it’s not surprising that others, like ginger, might treat or prevent them.

Likely through its anti-inflammatory and circulation improving properties, ginger lessens migraine pain. The best part? It seems to work as well as sumatriptan without the unpleasant side effects [12].

Ways to Use Ginger

As a Tea

Simply grate 1/2 inch of fresh ginger into a mug. Fill the mug with boiling hot water. Allow it to steep for at least 10 minutes. Add lemon and honey to taste, optional.

Alternatively, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of dried powdered ginger to a mug. Fill the mug with boiling hot water. Allow it to steep for at least 10 minutes. Add lemon and honey to taste, optional.

As an Add-in in Your Old Standbys

– Blend 1/2 inch to 1-inch piece into your favorite smoothie recipe
– Shred fresh ginger and add to stir-fry
– Add 1 tsp of powdered ginger to rice
– Ask for a bit of ginger the next time you order a fresh pressed juice

How to Choose Ginger

Like many herbs and functional foods used around the world, you can easily find ginger. You can find this tasty rhizome in just about any grocery store, health food store, smoothie shop, and juice spot.

Look for firm ginger with smooth skin. Avoid wrinkled, shriveled, and moldy pieces. Also, make sure to steer clear of pieces stored in wet displays and puddles.

How to Store Ginger

Ginger does best in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer in a plastic storage bag. Keep it dry and should hold up for weeks. Toss it if it turns moldy or shows other signs of losing its potency and freshness.

You can also freeze peeled chunks and grate it as needed.

Ginger, Your Health Ally

Ginger is a health supporting ally you would be wise to consider adding to your arsenal of healthful foods, herbs, and spices. Delicious, accessible, and versatile, ginger is hands down one of the best spices you can incorporate into your meals, snacks, and drinks to reap major health benefits.

Let us know in the comments how you like to incorporate ginger into your daily diet.

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References

1. Lien, H., Sun, W. M., Chen, Y., Kim, H., Hasler, W., & Owyang, C. (2003). Effects of ginger on motion sickness and gastric slow-wave dysrhythmias induced by circular vection. American Journal of Physiology – Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, 284(3). doi:10.1152/ajpgi.00164.2002

2. Matthews, A., Haas, D. M., O'mathúna, D. P., & Dowswell, T. (2015). Interventions for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd007575.pub4

3. Visalyaputra, S., Petchpaisit, N., Somcharoen, K., & Choavaratana, R. (1998). The efficacy of ginger root in the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting after outpatient gynaecological laparoscopy. Anaesthesia, 53(5), 506-510. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2044.1998.00369.x

4. Masé, G. (2013). The Wild Medicine Solution. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

5. Jalali, F., Moghadamnia, A., Saravi, M., Roozbeh, F., Pourami, M., & Alizadeh-Navaei, R. (2008). Investigation of the effect of ginger on the lipid levels. A double-blind controlled clinical trial. Saudi Medical Journal, 29 (9), 1280

6. Charles, D. J. (2013). Antioxidant properties of spices, herbs and other sources (pp. 335-341). New York: Springer.

7. Mashhadi, N., Ghiasvand, R., Askari, G., Hariri, M., Dervish, L. (2013). Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence. International Journal of Preventative Medicine, Suppl 1 (4), S1-7

8. Shidfar, F., Rajab, A., Rahideh, T., Khandouzi, N., Hosseini, S., & Shidfar, S. (2015). The effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on glycemic markers in patients with type 2 diabetes. Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, 12(2). doi:10.1515/jcim-2014-0021

9. Altman, R. D., & Marcussen, K. C. (2001, November). Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 44(11), 2531-2538. doi:10.1002/1529-0131(200111)44:113.0.co;2-j

10. Khayat, S., Kheirkhah, M., Moghadam, Z. B., Fanaei, H., Kasaeian, A., & Javadimehr, M. (2014, May 4). Effect of Treatment with Ginger on the Severity of Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms. ISRN Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2014, 1-5. doi:10.1155/2014/792708

11. Matsumura, M. D., Zavorsky, G. S., & Smoliga, J. M. (2015). The Effects of Pre-Exercise Ginger Supplementation on Muscle Damage and Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Phytotherapy Research, 29(6), 887-893. doi:10.1002/ptr.5328

12. Maghbooli, M., Golipour, F., Esfandabadi, A. M., & Yousefi, M. (2013). Comparison Between the Efficacy of Ginger and Sumatriptan in the Ablative Treatment of the Common Migraine. Phytotherapy Research, 28(3), 412-415. doi:10.1002/ptr.4996


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About the Author Amanda Roberts

Amanda is a gym instructor and a diet and nutrition fanatic that has reviewed 100s of supplements for the benefit of consumers. She struggled with obesity 7 years ago and after losing more than 30lbs, dedicates most of her time in helping others achieve similar results and transform their lives. You can contact her via the "About Us" page.

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