Ginger Benefits and Uses
Ginger is a member of a plant family that includes cardamom and turmeric. Its spicy aroma is mainly due to the presence of ketones, especially the gingerols, which appear to be the primary component of ginger studied in much of the health-related scientific research. The rhizome, which is the horizontal stem from which the roots grow, is the main portion of ginger that is consumed. Ginger’s current name comes from the Middle English gingivere, but this spice dates back over 3000 years to the Sanskrit word srngaveram, meaning “horn root,” based on its appearance. In Greek, it was called ziggiberis, and in Latin, zinziberi. Interestingly, ginger does not grow in the wild and its actual origins are uncertain. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
How popular is ginger?
People have been eating ginger for over 3,000 years. The root started as an ancient medicine and a common ingredient in Asian cuisine, but now you can find it almost anywhere. Even ginger beer has become a thing!
Ancient writings from Rome, Greece, China, and Arab countries all describe ginger‘s uses as a medicine. It was especially popular in Asian medicine as a treatment for stomach issues, including nausea and diarrhea. Other traditional medical uses for ginger include treating muscle and joint pain, cold and flu symptoms, stomach pain, menstrual cramps, and skin burns. ( Today, people still consider ginger a natural way to soothe an upset stomach, and there’s research to back up its health benefits. Ginger is also used in tons of modern recipes.
Why is ginger good for you?
- Reducing gas and improving digestion
- Relieving nausea
- Relieving pain
- Supporting cardiovascular health
- Lowering cancer risk
- Antibacterial Properties
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Reducing gas and improving digestion
Some research indicates that enzymes in ginger can help the body break up and expel this gas, providing relief from any discomfort. (medicalnewstoday.com)
In addition, ginger may help increase movement through the digestive tract, suggesting that it may relieve or prevent constipation.
study Trusted Source from 2010 examined the effects of ginger root powder supplements on nausea in 60 children and young adults who underwent chemotherapy. The analysis showed that the supplement led to reduced nausea in most of the people who took it. (medicalnewstoday.com)
Researchers behind a small study Trusted Source, which included 74 volunteers, found that a daily dosage of 2 grams (g) of raw or heated ginger reduced exercise-induced muscle pain by about 25%. (medicalnewstoday.com)
Supporting cardiovascular health
For example, one review found that a dosage of 5 g or more can cause significant, beneficial antiplatelet activity.
The authors acknowledge that many investigations included in their analysis did not involve human participants or that participant numbers were too small to ensure reliable results.
However, they suggest that, with further research, ginger could prove to be a safe form of treatment for cardiovascular disease. (medicalnewstoday.com)
Lowering cancer risk
Ginger does not provide protein or other nutrients, but it is an excellent source of antioxidants.
Studies Trusted Source has shown that, for this reason, ginger can reduce various types of oxidative stress that happens when Trusted Source too many free radicals build up in the body. Free radicals are toxic substances produced by metabolism and other factors.
The body needs to eliminate free radicals to prevent them from causing cellular damage that can lead to a range of diseases, including cancer. Dietary antioxidants help the body get rid of free radicals. (medicalnewstoday.com)
Researchers have found that ginger is an effective antibacterial for many drug-resistant bacteria in clinical applications. In their study, the researchers stated that “ginger has great potential in the treatment of many microbial diseases [such as Bacillus and E. coli].” The antibacterial benefits don’t stop there. In oral health, two types of ginger have been shown to inhibit the growth of pathogens that contribute to periodontitis (inflammation of the gums that is caused by gum bacteria). The antibacterial properties that ginger possesses show that food truly is medicine. (chopra.com)
Is ginger safe for everyone?
Although regarded as safe for a broad range of complaints, ginger is a potent herb that acts pharmacologically, so it may be unsuitable for some people, including:
People with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones
Those who frequently experience heartburn or acid reflux
Those with low blood pressure or on blood pressure medications. These individuals should consume ginger in moderation because of its potential blood-pressure-lowering effects
If you’re unsure or concerned about whether it is safe for you to consume ginger, consult your GP for guidance.
This article was reviewed on 11 February 2021 by Kerry Torrens .
Jo Lewin is a registered nutritionist (RNutr) with the Association for Nutrition with a specialism in public health. Follow her on Twitter @nutri_jo All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.