nutrition

Medically Reviewed

13 Amazing Benefits of Ginger: Nature's Wonder Root

Ginger has been a common therapeutic ingredient for centuries for its health benefits, including the ability to settle upset stomachs and ease pain.

Ginger, also known by the scientific name Zingiber officinale (“shaped like a horn” in Latin), is a root known for its fragrant smell and unique flavor. But did you know that ginger also may hold a number of health benefits? Ginger’s use as a medicine has just as rich a history as its culinary uses.

The most well-known benefit of ginger root is its ability to help settle an upset stomach. Ginger has been used for ages to ease nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, and morning sickness associated with pregnancy. Additionally, thanks to its antioxidant properties, ginger has been used to boost immunity, support cardiovascular health, and enhance cognitive function. There are many different ways ginger can be consumed, so it should be easy to find an enjoyable way to eat or drink more of it. Read on for more details about everything you need to know about this zesty root.

1. Relieves nausea and upset stomach

Ginger is best known for the gastrointestinal relief it can provide. There’s a reason why your mother gave you ginger ale when you had an upset stomach. People have been using it for centuries to ease stomach aches, nausea, and vomiting. Ginger has been shown to be especially effective for easing nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy, with multiple studies showing similar results. While the effect on pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting has been the most highly researched, ginger has also been used by people who are not pregnant with similar success.

2. Bloating and gas

Ginger helps to alleviate many common gastrointestinal symptoms, like bloating, gas, and constipation. This makes it a great digestive aid, since it can help combat common symptoms of indigestion, such as bloating and gas. By speeding up the digestive process, it can help your gastrointestinal system empty faster, which supports GI comfort. If gas and bloating are common problems, adding ginger to your daily routine may help ease these symptoms.

3. Aides in Digestion

Even if bloating and gas aren’t common issues, ginger can be used to aid with other digestive troubles. Because it helps to empty the stomach by pushing food through the gastrointestinal system more quickly, ginger may help soothe indigestion, heartburn, and other minor stomach discomfort after eating. Additionally, when paired with a healthy diet and regular exercise, ginger may help with managing weight, although this is still being studied.

4. Supports cardiovascular health

Ginger has been found to have diaphoretic properties, which means that it helps stimulate circulation. Ginger may also dilute the blood, which can increase blood flow to different areas of the body. Additionally, ginger may help the body reduce cholesterol levels, especially in the liver. Ginger may also stimulate heart muscles, helping the heart remain strong and healthy.

5. Helps boost immunity

Because gingerol, zingerone, and shogaol all have antimicrobial properties, ginger is a great way to support immune health. In addition, ginger’s warming properties can cause mild sweating – and that’s a good thing! Sweat contains a protein called dermcidin, which helps protect the body from some bacteria and other microorganisms. In many countries, ginger is used to help stimulate the immune response. Some studies suggest that ginger may also help fight certain chronic illnesses. This particular property is still under study and there may be more findings as to the link between ginger and the immune system yet to come.

6. Contains antioxidant properties

Ginger contains an array of phenolic compounds that exert antioxidant-like properties. There is a positive relationship between antioxidant activities and total phenolic contents. This allows ginger to be able to help combat oxidative stress and protect our cells from potential damage. Additionally, both the leaves and the young rhizomes of ginger are found to possess antioxidant characteristics.

7. Supports brain health

Animal studies have provided intriguing examples of ginger’s capacity to promote brain health through synaptogenic effects. These effects suggest that ginger may play a role in supporting memory.

But what truly strength\ens brain health comes down to a number of factors – efficient blood flow, a rich supply of nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, regular exercise, and continually learning new things.There are also a number of supplements that can further support your brain. For instance, B vitamins, particularly B12, play an instrumental role in cognitive function. Adaptogens like ashwagandha and rhodiola are also great ways to alleviate occasional stress and promote mental clarity. Another powerful antioxidant, astaxanthin, provides protective effects against oxidative stress in the brain. And, of course, the omega-3s, which are essential for brain health.

8. May reduce menstrual discomfort

For many, the monthly arrival of menstrual pain can be daunting. However, nature offers some relief, and ginger might be one of those natural remedies. A study suggests that taking 500 mg of ginger could be beneficial in easing PMS-related symptoms.

9. May help maintain healthy cholesterol levels

A clinical trial was conducted to determine whether ginger possesses lipid-lowering effects, and the results were staggering. The treatment group found that ginger had a significant lipid-lowering effect compared to the placebo. These findings suggest that ginger has the potential benefit to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels already in a normal range.

However, while ginger can be a supportive agent, the gold standard in managing cholesterol is through a balanced diet with adequate fiber and regular physical activity.

10. May promote respiratory function

Indirectly, ginger may play a role in promoting respiratory function due to its antioxidant-like properties. Ginger’s antioxidant activity can help combat oxidative stress, which can be particularly detrimental to lung tissue.

Some properties within ginger may also help relax smooth muscles. This could potentially ease bronchial constriction and enhance airflow, although the research has only been done in upper airways in humans. More research is needed.

Most importantly, however, the best way to keep your respiratory system strong is by regular exercise and practicing different breathing techniques.

Different forms of ginger

Ginger root (fresh ginger)

The most authentic and unprocessed form of ginger is the ginger root, which is referred to as fresh ginger. Ginger root can be used in a number of ways. One of the most soothing ways to enjoy fresh ginger is by brewing a cup of warm ginger tea. (More on that next!) It can also be used in various recipes to provide a unique zesty kick.

If you’re after a more concentrated punch, ginger root can be juiced and then taken as a shot, added to smoothies, or used to make salad dressings.

Ginger tea

Drinking a cup of ginger tea every morning can be very helpful to your health. Ginger tea has the same benefits as other forms of ginger. It can help with motion sickness, nausea, and vomiting; it can also support cardiovascular health and manage weight.

Check out this easy recipe for homemade ginger tea:

Ingredients:

  • Fresh ginger root - about a 2-inch piece
  • 4 cups of water
  • Optional: honey or lemon slices

Instructions:

  • Begin by peeling the ginger. Once peeled, slice the ginger very thinly.
  • In a pot or saucepan, bring the 4 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the ginger slices.
  • Reduce the heat to low and let the ginger simmer for about 10-15 minutes. The longer you let it simmer, the stronger the flavor will be.
  • After simmering, remove the pot from the heat and use a strainer to pour the tea into mugs.
  • If you like, you can add a teaspoon of honey to sweeten the tea or a slice of lemon. Or both!

Ginger powder

Ginger powder is a shelf-stable and convenient way to add ginger to your routine. It can be added to a number of recipes and smoothies. However, when selecting ginger powder, make sure to inspect the ingredient list to ensure there are no added fillers or other ingredients.

Ginger supplements and capsules

Ginger supplements and capsules provide a concentrated dose of ginger’s benefits. This can be a way to reap the benefits of ginger if you’re someone who isn't keen on its strong flavor. When choosing a supplement, make sure to consider the potency and dosage as they are typically available in various strengths.

Ginger oil and extract

Ginger oil and extracts tend to be extremely potent. Caution is advised when using ginger oil topically, as it can cause a burning sensation if not diluted with a carrier oil. Similarly, if you’re prone to indigestion, approach ginger extract with care. Its concentrated “spiciness” can be irritating to some.

Candied ginger

Candied ginger tends to be less potent compared to extracts or capsules. While it’s a delightful way to enjoy ginger, it’s important to remember that it contains a lot of added sugars.

Ginger dosage and side effects

As a supplement, ginger should be taken by adults in a dosage between 1000 mg and 2500 mg per day. It will take at least four days for results to show, so continue to take it even if nothing changes immediately. Studies have found that ginger does not tend to have strong side effects. Some people who are sensitive to ginger may experience minor heartburn and belching, but those side effects are uncommon. Consult your primary care physician before adding any new supplement to your diet, even one derived from foods and natural substances. This is especially important if you take other prescribed medications.

The Bottom Line

Ginger has been used for centuries for both its culinary properties and medicinal benefits. Its medicinal reputation comes from its ability to ease nausea and vomiting. But beyond the digestive tract, ginger’s antioxidant activity allows it to help boost immunity, support cardiovascular health, and enhance cognition. Ginger can be consumed in a variety of ways, with ginger tea being the most soothing. If you’re someone who doesn’t prefer the strong flavor of ginger, it can also be taken in capsules and supplements.

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