The spice has a slightly biting taste and is used, usually dried and ground, to flavour breads, sauces, curry dishes, confections, pickles, and ginger ale. The fresh rhizome, green ginger, is used in cooking. The peeled rhizomes may be preserved by boiling in syrup. In Japan and elsewhere, slices of ginger are eaten between dishes or courses to clear the palate. Ginger is used medically to treat flatulence and colic.
1. Contains gingerol, which has potent medicinal properties
Ginger contains about 2 percent essential oil; the principal component is zingiberene and the pungent principle of the spice is zingerone. The oil is distilled from rhizomes for use in the food and perfume industries.
Ginger has a long history of use in various forms of traditional and alternative medicine. It’s been used to aid digestion, reduce nausea, and help fight the flu and common cold, to name a few of its purposes.
The unique fragrance and flavor of ginger come from its natural oils, the most important of which is gingerol.
Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger. It’s responsible for many of ginger’s medicinal properties.
Gingerol has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, according to researchTrusted Source. For instance, it may help reduce oxidative stress, which results from having too many free radicals in the body.
2. Can treat morning sickness and other forms of nausea
Ginger may be effective Trusted Source against nausea, including pregnancy-related nausea, commonly known as morning sickness.
Ginger may help relieve nausea and vomiting for people undergoing certain types of surgery, and it may also help reduce chemotherapy-related nausea.
While generally safe, it’s best to talk with a doctor before taking large amounts if you’re pregnant.
Ginger may not be suitable Trusted Source during pregnancy for people who are close to labor and those with a history of pregnancy loss or vaginal bleeding. It may also be unsuitable for those with clotting disorders.
3. May help with weight loss
Ginger may play a role in weight loss, according to studies in humans and animals.
One 2019 review Trusted Source concluded that ginger supplementation significantly reduced body weight, the waist-hip ratio, and the hip ratio in people with overweight or obesity.
Ginger’s ability to influence weight loss may be due to certain mechanisms, such as its potential to reduce inflammation.
4. Can help with osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) involves degeneration of the joints, leading to symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness.
One review concluded that ginger may help reduce pain and disability.The participants took 0.5–1 gram of ginger per day for 3–12 weeks, depending on the study. Most had a diagnosis of OA of the knee.
However, other research Trusted Source has not found evidence of the same effects.
However, many discontinued treatment as they did not like the taste of ginger or because it upset their stomach.
5. May lower blood sugar and improve heart disease risk factors
Some research suggests ginger may have anti-diabetic properties.
In a 2015 study Trusted Source, 41 people with type 2 diabetes took 2 grams of ginger powder per day.
A 2022 review Trusted Source found a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar and HbA1c in people with type 2 diabetes after taking ginger supplements.
The review looked at results from 10 trials, in which participants took 1,200–3,000 milligrams (mg) per day for 8–13 weeks.
The results did not suggest that ginger supplements affected the lipid profile.
After 12 weeks:
- their fasting blood sugar was 12% lower
- their hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels were 10% lower
- their apolipoprotein B/ apolipoprotein A-I ratio was 28% lower
- their malondialdehyde (MDA) levels were 23% lower
A high apolipoprotein B/apolipoprotein A-I ratio and high levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) can result from oxidative stress, a byproduct of oxidative stress. They are both risk factors for heart disease.
However, this was one small study, and more research is needed to confirm these results.
A 2019 review also found evidence that ginger can reduce HbA1c in people with type 2 diabetes, but the authors did not conclude that it can lower fasting blood sugar levels.
6. Can help treat chronic indigestion
Ginger may help manage indigestion by speeding up the passage of food through the stomach.
Functional dyspepsia is when a person has indigestion — with symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, feeling too full, belching, and nausea — for no clear reason. It often occurs with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
In one study, scientists Trusted Source found that consuming a ginger and artichoke preparation before eating a main meal significantly improved the symptoms of indigestion in people with functional dyspepsia, compared with taking a placebo.
7. May reduce menstrual pain
Ginger may help relieve dysmenorrhea, also known as menstrual pain.
Some research has suggested that ginger is more effective than acetaminophen/caffeine/ibuprofen (Novafen) in relieving menstrual pain.
However, more studies are needed.
8. May help lower cholesterol levels
High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol are linked to Trusted Source an increased risk of heart disease.
In a 2022 review Trusted Source of 26 trials, researchers found that ginger consumption significantly reduced triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, while increasing HDL cholesterol. Even doses less than 1,500 mg per day were effective.
However, it may be hard to include such high doses of ginger in your diet, particularly if you don’t like the taste of ginger.
9. May help reduce cancer risk
Ginger may have anticancer properties due to gingerol and various other antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds.
There is some evidence Trusted Source that these compounds may help reduce the risk of gastrointestinal cancers, such as Trusted Source colorectal, pancreatic, and liver cancer.
In one study Trusted Source, 20 people with a high risk of colorectal cancer took 2 g of ginger daily for 28 days. At the end of the study, the lining of the participant’s intestines showed fewer cancer-like changes than expected.
However, most studies relating to ginger and cancer risk have not involved humans.
10. May improve brain function and protect against Alzheimer’s disease
Some research Trusted Source suggests that 6-shogaol and 6-gingerol — compounds in ginger — may help prevent degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation may be key drivers of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.
Some animal studies Trusted Source suggest the antioxidants and bioactive compounds in ginger can inhibit inflammatory responses that occur in the brain. This may help prevent cognitive decline.
11. Can help fight infections
Ginger’s antimicrobial properties could make it useful for fighting bacterial and fungal infections.
Laboratory studies have found it may be effective against:
- Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), which is responsible for a range of diseases
- Escherichia coli (E. coli), a cause of intestinal infections
- Candida albicans (C. albicans), which causes fungal infections in the mouth, vagina, and so on
Risks and side effects
Ginger is safe for most people to consume in moderation.
In large doses, however, it can cause Trusted Source the following symptoms in some people:
- abdominal discomfort
- mouth and throat irritation
It is likely safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but it is best to speak with a healthcare professional first.
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