Ginger is a perennial plant widely used as a spice and as a natural remedy in herbal and aromatic traditional treatments, especially in China, India, and the Middle East. Commonly called “ginger root” or just “ginger,” it belongs to Zingiberaceae family, of which turmeric, cardamom, and galangal are also members. Ginger originated in island Southeast Asia and was later transported to other parts of the world.
Ginger has amazing health benefits because of which it is often termed as “superfood.” Some of the health benefits of ginger are given below:
Improves gut health: Consuming ginger on a regular basis can help improve the stomach health. It prevents the occurrence of ulcers, which are generally characterized by bleeding and acute gastric irritability. In addition, ginger extract is shown to inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria and prevent and treat H. pylori-induced infection and inflammation. Anti-inflammatory properties of ginger also aid in treating problems like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Ginger has also been historically used for flatulence, constipation, bloating, and other digestive complaints.
Relieves nausea and vomiting: Studies show that ginger helps in treating nausea and vomiting related to morning sickness in pregnancy. It has also long been used as a preventive measure for motion sickness and seasickness. Research has confirmed its utility against chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting as well. The majority of studies found ginger to be positively effective against this side effect of aggressive therapies and toxic medical procedures.
Its quick absorption and role in rapid regulation of body functions make it cure nausea in people who have undergone surgeries too; however, the use of ginger in case of surgery should be discussed with the surgeon before trying it.
As nausea and vomiting are the most common symptoms of migraine, by curing both, ginger can effectively treat migraine and headache that follows it. A clinical trial has also confirmed that ginger powder helps reduce migraine related discomfort.
Ginger also helps relieve hangover if taken in the morning after a fun night out.
Treats chronic indigestion: Chronic indigestion (dyspepsia) which is characterized by recurrent pain and discomfort in the stomach might be caused due to delayed emptying of the stomach. Ginger is found to speed up emptying of the stomach in people with this condition. In a study of 24 healthy people, 1.2 gram of ginger powder before a meal accelerated emptying of the stomach by 50%.
Reduces bad cholesterol and improves cardiovascular function: Ginger can lower the bad, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), cholesterol levels and thus, help reduce the risk of heart disease. A recent study showed that the control groups that consumed 3 gram ginger thrice a day experienced a significantly higher reduction in triglyceride and cholesterol than the placebo group.
6-gingerol, an active compound found in large amounts in raw ginger helps regulate blood pressure and supports cardiovascular health. As studies have shown promising results, researchers are exploring more about ginger as a remedy for cardiovascular issues.
Helps reduce pain and muscle aches: Different gingerols found in ginger work against inflammation and pain-causing compounds in the body. A recent study on female athletes has shown that use of ginger is effective in decreasing muscle soreness due to physical strain. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger can be credited for this benefit. However, if you’re dealing with some chronic pain, consult with your doctor to get proper treatment.
Protects from ultraviolet rays: Ginger has the ability to absorb harmful ultraviolet rays. This property makes it act as a potential safeguard against DNA damage caused due to ultraviolet-B light.
Prevents cancer: The organic compounds like gingerol in ginger prevent you from breast cancer and many other types of cancer. Their anti-inflammatory properties help prevent carcinogenic activity in the colon that can cause colorectal cancer. It has been demonstrated that
Gingerol leads to apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells, thereby reducing tumors and the growth of cancerous cells without harming the healthy cells around them.
Gingerol is also known to be effective in protecting against skin cancer. Ginger also contains zerumbone that is positively linked to prevention of ovarian, pancreatic and gastric cancer as it works as an anti-angiogenic and anti-tumor medicine.
Helps maintain skin elasticity and improves skin health: Research suggests that antioxidants help protect skin from free-radicals present in the environment. While free radicals speed up the breakdown of skin’s collagen and create wrinkle, the antioxidant content in ginger helps maintain its collagen production that promotes skin elasticity and smoothness.
Owing to its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger can help ease the symptoms of eczema. By adding ginger-tea or ginger juice to your diet, you can improve your skin health and find comfort in many chronic skin conditions like acne, dermatitis, and psoriasis.
Treats cold and flu: Ginger is one of the oldest known home remedy for infection like cold and flu. It can be used in the form of tea for keeping the body warm. Ginger tea acts as a diaphoretic and induces sweating, which removes toxins from the body and makes you healthy again.
Helps regulate blood sugar: Ginger helps regulate blood sugar levels among people with type-2 diabetes. It acts upon insulin-release and -sensitivity and thereby, controls diabetes. It also supports the metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids and deters glycemic and lipid abnormalities. Therefore, if you are suffering from type-2 diabetes you may consider including ginger in your diet, but do consult your doctor before doing so. Besides stabilizing blood sugar effectively, ginger also protects against diabetic kidney, eye and liver complications.
Relieves asthma: An active compound called zerumbone present in ginger helps relieve asthma. Studies have shown that ginger is able to suppress Th2 dominance, which is the main cause of allergic airway inflammation.
Although natural ginger causes little or no known side effects for most people, it may cause diarrhea, irritate the mouth, or aggravate symptoms of acid reflux, if taken in excess. It is recommended not to take more than 4 gram of dried ginger a day or 1 gram during pregnancy, including food sources. Pregnant women, people suffering from gallstone, diabetes, and blood clotting disorder and those on blood thinning medications must discuss with their doctor before increasing ginger’s intake or taking it as supplements.