Herb of the Month
Complementary and Alternative
Medicine of Williamsburg
|This site is the sole
CAM of Williamsburg
Albert J. Rothstein
B.A., M.Ed., Ph.D., C.C.
|CAM of Williamsburg, 2020 All Rights Reserved
at its Best"
Ginger is one of my favorite herbs. Here is why.
Ginger is among the healthiest (and most delicious) spices on the planet.
It is loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have powerful benefits for your
body and brain.
Here are 11 health benefits of ginger that are supported by scientific research.
1. Ginger Contains Gingerol, a Substance With Powerful Medicinal Properties
Ginger is a flowering plant that originated from China.
It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, and is closely related to turmeric, cardomon and
The rhizome (underground part of the stem) is the part commonly used as a spice. It is
often called ginger root, or simply ginger.
Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional/alternative medicine. It
has been used to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold,
to name a few.
Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice, and is sometimes
added to processed foods and cosmetics. It is a very common ingredient in recipes.
The unique fragrance and flavor of ginger come from its natural oils, the most important
of which is gingerol.
Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for much of its medicinal
properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
2. Ginger Can Treat Many Forms of Nausea, Especially Morning Sickness
For example, it has a long history of use as a sea sickness remedy, and there is some
evidence that it may be as effective as prescription medication.
Ginger may also relieve nausea and vomiting after surgery, and in cancer patients
But it may be the most effective when it comes to pregnancy-related nausea, such as
According to a review of 12 studies that included a total of 1,278 pregnant women, 1.1-1.5
grams of ginger can significantly reduce symptoms of nausea.
Although ginger is considered safe, talk to your doctor before taking large amounts if you
are pregnant. Some believe that large amounts can raise the risk of miscarriage, but
there are currently no studies to support this.
3. Ginger May Reduce Muscle Pain and Soreness
Ginger has been shown to be effective against exercise-induced muscle pain.
In one study, consuming 2 grams of ginger per day, for 11 days, significantly reduced
muscle pain in people performing elbow exercises.
Ginger does not have an immediate impact, but may be effective at reducing the
day-to-day progression of muscle pain.
These effects are believed to be mediated by the anti-inflammatory properties.
4. The Anti-Inflammatory Effects Can Help With Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a common health problem.
It involves degeneration of the joints in the body, leading to symptoms like joint pain and
In a controlled trial of 247 people with osteoarthritis of the knee, those who took ginger
extract had less pain and required less pain medication.
Another study found that a combination of ginger, mastic, cinnamon and sesame oil, can
reduce pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis patients when applied topically
5. Ginger May Drastically Lower Blood Sugars and Improve Heart Disease Risk Factors
This area of research is relatively new, but ginger may have powerful anti-diabetic
In a 2015 study of 41 participants with type 2 diabetes, 2 grams of ginger powder per day
lowered fasting blood sugar by 12%.
It also dramatically improved HbA1c (a marker for long-term blood sugar levels), leading
to a 10% reduction over a period of 12 weeks.
There was also a 28% reduction in the ApoB/ApoA-I ratio, and a 23% reduction in
markers for oxidized lipoproteins. These are both major risk factors for heart disease.
6. Ginger Can Help Treat Chronic Indigestion
Chronic indigestion (dyspepsia) is characterized by recurrent pain and discomfort in the
upper part of the stomach.
It is believed that delayed emptying of the stomach is a major driver of indigestion.
Interestingly, ginger has been shown to speed up emptying of the stomach in people with
After eating soup, ginger reduced the time it took for the stomach to empty from 16 to 12
In a study of 24 healthy individuals, 1.2 grams of ginger powder before a meal
accelerated emptying of the stomach.
7. Ginger Powder May Significantly Reduce Menstrual Pain
Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) refers to pain felt during a woman's menstrual cycle.
One of the traditional uses of ginger is for pain relief, including menstrual pain.
In one study, 150 women were instructed to take 1 gram of ginger powder per day, for the
first 3 days of the menstrual period.
Ginger managed to reduce pain as effectively as the drugs mefenamic acid and
8. Ginger May Lower Cholesterol Levels
High levels of LDL lipoproteins (the "bad" cholesterol) are linked to an increased risk of
The foods you eat can have a strong influence on LDL levels.
In a 45-day study of 85 individuals with high cholesterol, 3 grams of ginger powder
caused significant reductions in most cholesterol markers.
This is supported by a study in hypothyroid rats, where ginger extract lowered LDL
cholesterol to a similar extent as the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin.
Both studies also showed reductions in total cholesterol and blood triglycerides.
9. Ginger Contains a Substance That May Help Prevent Cancer
Cancer is a very serious disease that is characterized by uncontrolled growth of
Ginger extract has been studied as an alternative treatment for several forms of cancer.
The anti-cancer properties are attributed to 6-gingerol, a substance that is found in large
amounts in raw ginger.
In a study of 30 individuals, 2 grams of ginger extract per day significantly reduced
pro-inflammatory signalling molecules in the colon.
There is some, although limited, evidence that ginger may be effective against pancreatic
cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer. More research is needed.
10. Ginger May Improve Brain Function and Protect Against Alzheimer's Disease
Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can accelerate the aging process.
They are believed to be among the key drivers of Alzheimer's disease and age-related
Some studies in animals suggest that the antioxidants and bioactive compounds in
ginger can inhibit inflammatory responses that occur in the brain.
There is also some evidence that ginger can enhance brain function directly. In a study of
60 middle-aged women, ginger extract was shown to improve reaction time and working
There are also numerous studies in animals showing that ginger can protect against
age-related decline in brain function.
11. The Active Ingredient in Ginger Can Help Fight Infections
Gingerol, the bioactive substance in fresh ginger, can help lower the risk of infections.
In fact, ginger extract can inhibit the growth of many different types of bacteria.
It is very effective against the oral bacteria linked to inflammatory diseases in the gums,
such as gingivitis and periodontitis.
Fresh ginger may also be effective against the RSV virus, a common cause of respiratory
12. Anything Else?
Ginger is one of the very few "superfoods" actually worthy of that term. You can buy fresh
or powdered ginger at your local grocery store or purchase ginger supplements online.
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