Not only is ginger among the most delicious spices on earth but is also among the healthiest. Its blend of bio-active compounds and nutrients cause it to have strong benefits on the brain and body. Here are 11 scientifically-supported health benefits of Ginger.
Ginger Contains Gingerol, a Compound which Possesses Powerful Medicinal Properties
With origins from China, ginger is a member of the Zingiberaceae family and can be closely linked to cardomon, turmeric and galangal. The part of the plant’s stem that is found beneath the ground (the rhizome) is the part frequently used as a spice. It is commonly referred to as ginger root or just ginger. With regards to traditional/alternative forms of medicine, ginger can and has been used to combat the common cold and flu, reduce nausea and aid in digestion. It can be used fresh, dried, as an oil, tea or juice, and in its powdered form. It is also sometimes added to cosmetics and processed foods. It is also frequently used in recipes with its unique flavor and fragrance coming from its natural oils, the most significant of which is gingerol. This natural oil is ginger’s key bioactive compound and accounts for most of the plant’s medicinal properties. It also has strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Ginger Can Be Used as Treatment for Different Forms of Nausea, Most Notably Morning Sickness
Ginger has proven to be a very effective treatment for nausea. An example is its use as a remedy for seasickness, with evidence proving that it may be as effective as prescribed medication. It can also be used to relieve vomiting and nausea after surgery, and in patients undergoing chemotherapy as a result of cancer. But it is most effective for pregnancy-related nausea, including morning sickness. A review of 12 studies including about 1,278 pregnant women showed that taking 1.1-1.5 grams of ginger can have a significant effect on relieving symptoms of nausea, even though it had no effect on the vomiting episodes. It is important, however, to consult your doctor before taking a large amount of ginger if you are pregnant as some people believe that the risk of miscarriage can increase if it is taken in large amounts, even though there have been no studies to support this assertion.
Ginger May Help in Reducing Soreness and Muscle Pain
It has been proven that exercise-induced pain can be reduced by ginger. According to one study, taking 2 grams daily for 11 days greatly reduced muscle pain in individuals carrying out elbow exercises. Despite the fact that its impact is not immediate, it may significantly reduce the daily progression of muscle pain. These pain-relieving effects are believed to be caused by the plant’s anti-inflammatory properties.
Its Anti-Inflammatory Effects Help with Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis, a widespread health problem which causes the degeneration of body joints and leads to symptoms like stiffness and joint pain. A controlled experiment involving 247 individuals suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee revealed that those who consumed ginger experienced less pain and needed less pain medication. Another study revealed that a combo of ginger, cinnamon, mastic and sesame oil, can lessen stiffness and pain in osteoarthritis patients when topically applied.
Ginger May Seriously Reduce Blood Sugar Levels and Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
While this research area is still pretty new, ginger is known to possess powerful anti-diabetic properties. A 2015 study of 41 individuals with type 2 diabetes revealed that taking 2 grams of powdered ginger daily reduced blood sugar by 12% and also significantly increased HbA1c (a marker for long-term blood sugar levels), causing a reduction of 10% during a 12-week period. The ApoB/ApoA-I ratio also reduced by 28%, while other oxidized lipoprotein markers reduced by 23%. Both are vital risk factors for heart disease. Note that this is all based on a single small study. So, despite the impressive results, the results still need to be confirmed after carrying out larger studies before drawing any conclusions.
Ginger Can Also Be Used to Treat Chronic Indigestion
Continual discomfort and pain in the upper part of the stomach are characteristics of Dyspepsia (chronic indigestion), which is usually caused by delayed emptying of the stomach. For individuals suffering from this condition, ginger has proven to facilitate the emptying of the stomach. After eating soup, the time it took to empty the stomach was reduced from 16 minutes to 12 minutes by taking ginger. Also, a study of 24 individuals who took 1.2 grams of ginger powder before they ate revealed that emptying of the stomach was accelerated by 50%.
Ginger Remarkably Minimizes Menstrual Pain
Dysmenorrhea is the pain felt by a woman during her menstrual cycle. And ginger is also traditionally used as a painkiller, which includes relief against menstrual pain. A study involving 150 women who were instructed to take a gram of ginger every day for the first three days of their menstrual cycle revealed that ginger actually reduced the pain they felt as effectively as would Ibuprofen and Mefenamic acid.
Ginger May Reduce Cholesterol Levels
With increased LDL lipoproteins (the “bad” cholesterol) levels come an increment in heart disease risk. LDL levels are directly related to the types of foods you eat. A 45-day study carried out on 85 persons with increased levels of cholesterol showed that their cholesterol markers were greatly reduced by 3 grams of ginger powder. This is complemented by a study carried out on hypothyroid rats, which showed that ginger extract can lower LDL cholesterol levels in a similar manner to Atorvastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug. In addition, the two studies also revealed reduced rates of blood triglycerides and overall cholesterol.
Contains a Substance That Can Hinder the Growth of Cancer
Cancer, characterized by the unhampered spread of abnormal cells is a very serious disease killing millions of people annually. Extracts from ginger have been studied as possible treatment for different types of cancer. 6-gingerol, a substance found in sizeable amounts in raw ginger has anti-cancer properties attributed to it. A study of 30 persons showed that 2 grams of ginger extract daily remarkably reduced pro-inflammatory signaling molecules found in the colon. However, a further examination of persons with a high risk of colon cancer failed to confirm these findings. That notwithstanding, some evidence, at least, suggests that ginger may prove effective against breast, pancreatic and ovarian cancer. However, more research needs to be carried out.
Improves Brain Functioning and Offers Protection Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress can speed up the aging process and are thought to be some of the main causes of Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related cognitive issues. According to some research on animals, the bioactive compounds and antioxidants found in ginger reduce cognitive inflammatory responses. Other evidence also suggests that ginger can directly improve brain functioning. A study of sixty middle-aged showed that ginger helped to enhance working memory and reaction time. Numerous studies carried out in animals also prove that ginger can help guard against age-related deterioration in brain functioning.
Helps to Fight Off Infections
Another benefits of ginger is its ability to fight off infections, thanks to its bioactive substance – Gingerol. This bioactive substance helps in hindering the growth of a variety of bacteria. It is especially very useful against oral bacteria such as diseases which cause inflammations in the gums, such as periodontitis and gingivitis. Fresh ginger can also be used to combat the RSV virus, which is very common with respiratory infections.