© Nikolay Litov | Dreamstime.com
Ginger is commonly produced in India, Jamaica, Fiji, Indonesia, and Australia. The root or underground stem (rhizomes) of Zingiber officinale (from the Zingiberaceae family) can be consumed fresh, powdered, dried as a spice, in oil form, or as juice. Any of those forms will help you enjoy the health benefits of ginger.
Since antiquity, ginger been used in the various traditional systems of medicine to treat everything from arthritis, rheumatism, and nervous diseases to dementia, hypertension, diabetes, and asthma to sore throat, gingivitis, and toothache.
But ginger has been found most effective as a natural remedy for relieving the five ailments covered below: gastrointestinal issues, nausea, joint and muscle pains, fever, and menstrual cramping.
1. Ginger improves gastrointestinal health.
The phenolic compounds in ginger are known to help relieve gastrointestinal (GI) upset, stimulate saliva and bile production, and suppress gastric contractions with movement of food and fluids through the GI tract. Furthermore, ginger is of immense value in treating various gastric ailments like constipation, indigestion, belching, bloating, gastritis, and epigastric discomfort, and scientific studies have validated these uses.
Ginger has also been shown to be effective in preventing gastric ulcers induced by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs like indomethacin and aspirin), alcohol, stress, and Helicobacter pylori bacteria.
2. Ginger relieves nausea.
Of all the gastrointestinal benefits, ginger is most widely regarded as a home remedy for nausea for morning sickness during pregnancy. In a systemic review published in the Journal of Nutrition, randomized controlled trials were reviewed regarding the efficacy of orally administered ginger as treatment for nausea and vomiting in pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy. The study results indicated that ginger could be considered an “effective alternative option for women,” and that “ginger did not pose a risk for side-effects or adverse events during pregnancy.”
Ginger also has been shown effective for treating other causes of nausea and vomiting such as motion sickness or chemotherapy treatment in cancer patients. In particular, research demonstrates that compounds called gingerol and shogaol in ginger root interact with pathways that are directly indicated in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
3. Ginger reduces aches and pains.
Ginger has been shown to exert anti-inflammatory and hypoalgesic effects (decreased sensitivity to painful stimuli) for those suffering from arthritis or from exercise-induced aches and pains. In a study published in the Journal of Pain, participants consumed 2 grams of either raw or heated ginger or placebo for 11 consecutive days. Participants performed 18 eccentric actions of the elbow flexors to induce pain and inflammation. Pain intensity, perceived effort, plasma prostaglandin E(2), arm volume, range-of-motion and isometric strength were assessed prior to and for three days after exercise.
The results showed daily supplementation with ginger reduced muscle pain caused by exercise. This effect was not enhanced by heat treating the ginger, which means consuming ginger in powder, extract, or capsule form would be just as effective as consumption via hot tea. The study authors noted, “Our findings agree with those showing hypoalgesic effects of ginger in osteoarthritis patients and further demonstrate ginger’s effectiveness as a pain reliever.”
4. Ginger promotes sweating.
Ginger is a diaphoretic, which means that it promotes sweating, warming the body from within. During cold weather, drinking ginger tea is good way to keep warm! But, it also has been utilized to break a fever in cases of flu or other respiratory illness due to its diaphoretic properties.
GINGER DOSAGE: HOW MUCH?
Standard dosage for ginger is 75 to 2,000 milligrams of root or extract daily. For nausea and related digestive symptoms, add up to 1 gram (g) of powdered ginger root or 30 to 90 drops of ginger extract to warm water to sip as needed.
To make fresh ginger tea at home, slice 20 to 40 grams of fresh ginger and steep it in a cup of hot water. Adding a slice of lemon or a drop of honey adds flavor and additional benefits, including vitamin C and antibacterial properties.
Because of ginger’s ability to stabilize blood sugar and blood pressure levels, higher doses can interfere with blood thinners, diabetes medications, and hypertension medications. Pregnant women and those with a chronic illness should discuss ginger use with a healthcare professional.
5. Health benefits of ginger include relief of menstrual cramps.
In a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, authors examined the effects of ginger, mefenamic acid (an NSAID drug), and ibuprofen on pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps). The double-blind comparative clinical trial involved 150 students (18 years old and over) with primary dysmenorrhea.
Students in the ginger group took 250 mg capsules of ginger rhizome powder four times a day for three days from the start of their menstrual period. Members of the other groups received 250 mg mefenamic acid or 400 mg ibuprofen capsules, respectively, on the same protocol. Severity of disease, pain relief, and satisfaction with the treatment were compared between the groups after one menstruation. The results indicated that ginger was as effective as mefenamic acid and ibuprofen in relieving pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea.