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7 Research-Based Health Benefits of Ginger

Drew is a professional pharmacist and hobbyist. He is always seeking new ways to earn through the internet and share knowledge with others.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is one of the common household spices in your kitchens. Mostly used to spice up our life and cooking. Even so, many of us don’t know that ginger is a power food. It is packed and loaded with many health benefits.

It is also one of the earliest recorded spices. There were signs of ginger on various old pieces of literature. A good example is in the Analects of Confucius. Another one is on Pedanios Dioscorides’ De Materia Medica. Ginger is also one of the first spices transported by traders from Asia to Europe. Then later on spread throughout the whole world.

Okay, I know. I won’t preach history. I will stop at that. Think of it as a nice gingery background for our main hero today – ginger.

As of today, there are a lot of products in the market derived from this spice. A few examples are ginger tea, ginger candy, ginger chocolate, ginger biscuit, and so on. Oh no, don’t forget those ginger cookies. I mean, I love those.

Anyway, speaking of the health benefits of this awesome root crop. Here are a few evidenced-based health benefits of ginger that I found in my research.

  • For nausea and vomiting
  • For hypertension
  • For selected viruses and sore throat
  • For Alzheimer's disease and dementia
  • For osteoarthritis and rheumatism
  • For lowering bad cholesterol
  • For diabetes

So what are we waiting for?

Let’s dig deeper.

1. Ginger Is an Anti-Emetic

Let’s first define anti-emetic in layman’s term. Anti-emetic is simply anti-vomiting and anti-nausea. I know, I know. People in the scientific community like to. make things complicated.

Studies on ginger have shown that this herbal root crop can ease symptoms of nausea and vomiting.

How effective is it, you ask?

A published study in the Journal of Pediatric Blood and Cancer showed us its effect. Ginger root powder reduced the severity of chemotherapy-induced vomiting in patients.

It had shown effects as an anti-nausea agent in certain surgical procedures.

Ginger has also been touted to be efficacious for pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting. Yep, simply put, morning sickness. A nice herbal option for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.

Still, I highly advise you to consult your doctor first. It is better to tell them before taking any ginger supplements. Safety first at all times.

2. Ginger and Hypertension

Having trouble controlling that fickle hypertension of yours? Then, add some gingery spice to your diet.

Hypertension is one of the leading causes of premature death worldwide. World Health Organization estimated 1.13 billion people suffer from this silent killer. With at least two-thirds of cases living in the lower and middle-income countries.

A study in BMJ Open showed that ginger has the potential for mitigating high blood pressure. It was considered as a potential anti-hypertensive adjunct and alternative.

Another research showed that fresh ginger extract exhibited a blood pressure-lowering effect.

Ginger also showed the capacity to fight high levels of bad cholesterol. Elevated bad cholesterol is a co-morbidity in hypertensive cases. It is also a risk for stroke and heart diseases.

In 2019, a meta-analysis of six random clinical trials with 345 participants showed convincing results. The analysis strengthens the evidence that ginger can control elevated blood pressure.

3. Ginger for Sore Throats and Select Viruses

Got an itchy sore throat? Or feeling under the weather. How about trying ginger for a change?

Ginger has shown promise in relieving symptoms of sore throats and flu. In various cultures, ginger had been well-known as herbal medicine. It was also said that it could boost immunity against diseases.

How?

Researchers found that a compound in ginger called gingerol can reduce swelling, inflammation, and even pain. Hey, it can also lower the risk of infections too.

Ginger showed antibiotic potential against Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes comparable to antibiotics. Strep throat caused by Streptococcus pyogenes is a common cause of sore throat.

Ginger can also be effective against a few specific viruses. A study also showed that fresh ginger is effective against the human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV). HRSV is a virus that can cause various respiratory tract infections.

On a side note, I brew my honey ginger tea every time I feel like I’m feeling some flu-like symptoms. Once mixed with honey or milk, it becomes a really nice treat. But let’s save it for another article later. Anyway, I also buy organic ginger tea when I don't have time to prepare it all.

4. Ginger, Alzheimer’s, and Dementia

It’s normal to get a little forgetful as you age. But when it gets prevalent and is already affecting your life. Then, trouble arises. What’s worse is when your doctor confirms signs of dementia or at worst Alzheimer's disease.

Ginger is well-known for having an anti-aging effect. Mostly attributed to its capacity to fight oxidative stress and inflammation. Oxidative stress and inflammation is a common factor in degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.

Ginger contains 6-gingerol, 6-shogaol, 10-gingerol, gingerdiones, gingerdiols, and paradols. Compounds that showed anti-aging effects. These positive effects were seen in various kinds of age-related and degenerative diseases. Primarily through ginger’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions.

Studies also showed that ginger exhibited protective effects against Alzheimer’s-induced behavioral dysfunction.

What else can it do for you?

Studies also showed that ginger can also enhance both attention and cognitive processes. A nice tip to boost your brainpower.

5. Ginger for Osteoarthritis and Rheumatism

A study in the Journal of Medical Association of Thailand showed the positive effects of ginger on osteoarthritis. It showed that ginger extracts joint pain. The root crop also improves other problematic symptoms related to osteoarthritis.

Ginger in the form of compress and patch can ease symptoms of chronic osteoarthritis. Oh, don't forget rheumatoid arthritis as well. Thus, improving the quality of life in elderly patients.

Studies found some compounds in ginger have the same effects as CO2 inhibitors. A mechanism of action of pain killer drugs which helps against inflammation and pain. Hey, this is coming from me as a pharmacist.

Ginger may also side-step some side-effects linked with pain killers. Even so, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some side effects. At most, you’ll get mild abdominal discomfort due to taking too much.

6. Ginger and Bad Cholesterol

You read it right. Your ginger also has the power to lower those bad cholesterols. And yep, not all cholesterols are created equal. Some are bad for your health, while others can be good.

The elevated level of Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol, are associated with a lot of health risks. A few examples are hypertension, atherosclerosis, and other heart diseases.

A study published in the Saudi Medical Journal found some interesting findings. They conducted a before-and-after study on 95 patients. There were 45 patients in the treatment group. And another 40 patients for the placebo group. It showed that ginger can significantly reduce levels of triglyceride, cholesterol, and LDL.

Aside from that, it can also reduce levels of very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). What the heck is that? Let’s just say VLDL is a kind of super bad cholesterol. Something every physician and health professionals don’t want for their patients.

Now let’s look at the good side. If there is bad cholesterol, then there is bound to be good cholesterol.

Good cholesterol is also called as high-density cholesterol (HDL). What is so good about it?

HDL can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. And guess what? I have some gingery news for you. A study has shown that ginger can boost the levels of HDL cholesterol.

So better start making those ginger recipes. Oh, don’t forget, better have it fresh.

7. Ginger and Diabetes

You read it right. Ginger also has a bone to fight against diabetes.

A study from the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research showed an interesting result. Ginger was able to lower levels of FBS and HbA1c in type 2 diabetic patients tested in the research.

Anyway, for our friends who’s not well-versed on medical terminology: Lower levels of FBS and HbA1c is a piece of good news for diabetics. It means that they are in good control of their blood sugar.

In 2020, a study showed that ginger is also useful in lowering the glucose levels of women with gestational diabetes mellitus.

A study using steamed ginger showed that it could also enhance insulin secretion. A lot of good news right? But wait there’s more!

In 2017, a systemic review and meta-analysis were done about diabetes and ginger. They gathered and analyzed 10 studies with a total population of 490 individuals. They found out that ginger showed a convincing positive effect on glucose control. It also improves insulin sensitivity as well as better blood lipid profiles.

The Takeaway

Ginger has a lot of proven health benefits. Indeed, it is useful for a wide range of medical conditions.

Even so, not all patient conditions and diseases are the same. Some are complex while some are simple. Be sure to talk with your physician before including a few to your diet. Do not self medicate.

Remember, they know your condition better. Yep, most of the time, even better than you do. It never hurts to ask for some advice especially if it's your health which is at stake.

More Ginger Benefits? Then Watch This

References

  1. Pillai, A. K., et al. (2011). Anti-emetic effect of ginger powder versus placebo as add-on therapy in children and young adults receiving high emetogenic chemotherapy. Pediatric blood & cancer, 56(2), 234–238.
  2. Lete, I., & Allué, J. (2016). The Effectiveness of Ginger in the Prevention of Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy and Chemotherapy. Integrative medicine insights, 11, 11–17. https://doi.org/10.4137/IMI.S36273
  3. Wang, S., et al. (2018). 6-Gingerol Ameliorates Behavioral Changes and Atherosclerotic Lesions in ApoE-/- Mice Exposed to Chronic Mild Stress. Cardiovascular Toxicology, 18(5), 420–430.
  4. Bode AM, Dong Z. The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 7.
  5. Hajimoosayi, F., et al. (2020). Effect of ginger on the blood glucose level of women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) with impaired glucose tolerance test (GTT). A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. BMC complementary medicine and therapies, 20(1), 116.
  6. Nam, Y. H., et al. (2020). Steamed Ginger May Enhance Insulin Secretion through KATP Channel Closure in Pancreatic β-Cells Potentially by Increasing 1-Dehydro-6-Gingerdione Content. Nutrients, 12(2), 324.
  7. Saenghong, N., et al. (2012). Zingiber officinale Improves Cognitive Function of the Middle-Aged Healthy Women. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
  8. Zeng GF., et al. (2013). Protective effects of ginger root extract on Alzheimer's disease-induced behavioral dysfunction in rats. Rejuvenation Research,16(2):124-
  9. Alizadeh-Navaei, R., et al. (2008). Investigation of the effect of ginger on the lipid levels. A double-blind controlled clinical trial. Saudi Medical Journal, 29(9), 1280–1284.
  10. Amorndoljai, P., et al. (2015). Improving Knee Osteoarthritis Symptom by the Local Application of Ginger Extract Nanoparticles. A Preliminary Report with Short Term Follow-Up. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, 98(9), 871–877.
  11. Ali BH, Blunden G, Tanira MO, Nemmar A. (2008). Some phytochemical, pharmacological, and toxicological properties of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe). A review of recent research. Food Chemical Toxicology, 46(2):409-420.
  12. Hasani, H., et al. (2019). Does ginger supplementation lower blood pressure? A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. Phytotherapy Research: PTR, 33(6), 1639–1647.
  13. Chang, J. S., et al. (2013). Fresh ginger has anti-viral activity against the human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 145(1), 146–151.
  14. Mohd Sahardi, N., & Makpol, S. (2019). Ginger in the Prevention of Ageing and Degenerative Diseases: Review of Current Evidence. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine
  15. Zhu, J., et al. (2018). Effects of Ginger on Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Components of the Metabolic Syndrome. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Drew Agravante

Comments

Drew Agravante (author) from Philippines, Currently in Qatar on August 22, 2020:

Hi Dora,

Thanks for reading. I also love your works. Please do keep it up, so I can binge more.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 22, 2020:

Thanks for sharing your pharmaceutical expertise on the benefits of ginger. Good, helpful information!

Drew Agravante (author) from Philippines, Currently in Qatar on August 13, 2020:

Hi Danny,

I actually wrote this piece after getting curious about why a lot of people buy ginger in the supermarket. I have seen a lot of people asking me about ginger (including my parents) for the flu and other illnesses. And here you have it.

Danny from India on August 13, 2020:

Drew you have zeroed on the right topic in these pandemic times. It is also known that the 3 potent ingredients - Ginger, Garlic & Onions do wonders for the immune system.

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