Ginger or Zingiber officinale is a heady herb that can spice up any dish. But that’s not all this humble rhizome can do. Its medicinal properties have, for long, been valued in ancient India, China, and Rome. The oily resin in the roots of the ginger plant contains many bioactive compounds, most prominently gingerols and shogaols, which give it its pungency and beneficial properties.1 Here’s a look at the health benefits of ginger.
1. Relieves Morning Sickness Or Motion Sickness
Studies show that ginger can alleviate nausea caused by various conditions. So whether you’re nauseous because of morning sickness or seasickness, or after chemotherapy or certain surgeries, ginger could be useful for you. 6-gingerol, which gives ginger its unique taste, is thought to be responsible for this property. It has been found to help food move through the stomach and gut.2
How to use:
For morning sickness
- Take a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger when you start feeling nauseous for immediate relief. This works for motion sickness too.3
- Take 3 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger in a thin cotton towel or cheesecloth and squeeze to extract the juice. Add the juice to a cup of sugarcane juice and stir well. Sip slowly. This concoction works for both pregnancy-related nausea and nausea due to chronic stomach ailments.4
- Taking a ginger capsule with 250 mg to 1 gm of ginger daily is also known to help subside morning sickness.
Although consuming ginger is not known to cause any side effects, it is best to check with your doctor during pregnancy. A safe quantity of ginger during pregnancy is between 1–2 gm per day.5
[expert_opinion expertname=’lauradankof’ opinion=”Ginger ale is not a healthy swap for chewing on ginger to treat your nausea. Ginger ale contains 36 grams of carbohydrates and 35 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce can. It may soothe nausea, but you will be getting a lot of sugar. Sugar is inflammatory to the body. Always go straight to the natural source whenever possible. Ginger can not only help your nausea but is also anti-inflammatory. If you don’t like the taste of ginger, try diffusing ginger essential oil.”]
For motion sickness
- Taking 500 mg to 1 gm of ginger powder 30–60 minutes before you start traveling can help combat travel sickness. You can take an additional 500 mg after 2 to 4 hours if required.6 7 Children above 2 years of age and below 6 can be given a milder dose, not exceeding 250 mg each time.8
2. Eases Painful Menstrual Cramps
Painful menstrual cramps or primary dysmenorrhea is a bane many women face every month. And if you’re one of them, ginger might be able to help you. One study found that when ginger powder was taken during the first three days of the menstrual period, it significantly reduced the severity of the pain. Interestingly, the study also found that when ginger was taken two days before the period started and continued through the first three days of the menstrual period, the duration of pain was reduced too.
Ginger works by inhibiting the synthesis of prostaglandins, which are compounds that activate the body’s natural response – inflammation – to various health problems. Prostaglandins play a role in promoting uterine contractions as well, hence easing menstrual cramps.9 10
How to use:
- Ginger powder: As the study above mentioned, you can start taking 500 mg of ginger powder thrice a day two days before your period starts and continue taking it through the first three days of your period for relief from menstrual pain.11
- Ginger poultice: Add half a cup of fresh grated ginger to 2 cups of water and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. Make sure all the water does not boil away. Strain and place the hot ginger on a cotton cloth or cheesecloth. Squeeze the cloth so that it becomes saturated with the ginger solution. Place this poultice on your stomach exactly around where it cramps. You can place a towel, a hot water bottle, or a heating pad over the poultice too. Leave on for about 10 minutes for pain relief. You can repeat this process several times in a day.12
- Ginger, onion, and salt poultice: Another poultice recipe calls for mixing a cup of freshly chopped ginger with half a cup of freshly crushed onion. Add 2 cups of rock salt to the mix. Dry roast the mixture in a pan or wok for about 10 minutes. Pack the hot mix in a thin towel and you have your hot poultice. Lie on the back and apply the poultice on your abdomen twice a day, for about 3 days before your menstruation starts.13
3. Helps With Rheumatic Disorders
According to research, ginger can be effective in reducing pain and swelling caused by rheumatic disorders too. Ginger is thought to work by inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis, among other things. In a study comprising 56 patients who were given powdered ginger for a period ranging from 3–30 months, over 75 percent of the arthritic patients reported relief from swelling and pain. Patients with muscular discomfort also reported relief. No side effects were reported.14
How to use:
It’s important to remember that treating pain with ginger is not a quick process – it could take days or weeks before you find complete relief.15
- Try taking 250 mg of ginger 4 times a day to lessen pain due to arthritis. This has proven to be effective in a study.16
- Other sources advise taking 510 mg of dry ginger powder in divided doses per day.17
- Make a paste of ginger and turmeric and apply on the affected areas twice a day.18 Turmeric contains the anti-inflammatory compound curcumin that can help with pain.19
- Add ginger to your diet. Either eat a little fresh ginger or whip up a spicy curry using both ginger and turmeric.
4. Works As A Blood Thinner
Blood thinners reduce the formation of blood clots in your arteries and veins and bring down the risk of stroke and heart attack in people with certain heart conditions.20 Ginger is thought to work as a natural blood thinner. In one study, platelet aggregation (the clumping together of blood cells to form a clot) increased in healthy men when they ate 100 gm of butter for 7 days. However, it was observed that when dry ginger was added to the fatty meal, platelet aggregation was significantly inhibited.21
How to use:
If you are already taking any blood thinning medication or have a risk of hemorrhage, do not try any of these home remedies without consulting your doctor. A dosage of above 4 gm per day of dry ginger powder could prove to have a negative impact in such cases.22
- According to research, taking 5 gm of ginger powder can have significant blood thinning effects.23
- Another home remedy involves adding half a teaspoon of freshly ground ginger to a cup of boiling water. Add honey for taste and drink hot.24
5. Combats Insulin Resistance And Treats Diabetes
In people with insulin resistance, the body doesn’t respond properly to the hormone insulin, which is responsible for managing our blood sugar levels. This puts them at a greater risk for type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease.25 But ginger can help combat insulin resistance. One study found that when people with type 2 diabetes took 3 gm of ginger powder daily for 8 weeks, it lowered insulin resistance and they showed an improvement in indices related to diabetes control.26
How to use:
- Taking 3 gm of ginger powder daily could be helpful.
6. Prevents Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of disorders like obesity, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and high cholesterol which work together to increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.27 Research indicates that ginger may have a protective effect against this syndrome.
One animal study found that the marked rise in body weights, insulin, glucose, LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides caused by feeding them a high-fat diet for 6 weeks was significantly reduced when they were treated with ginger. And it is thought that 6-shogaol and 6-gingerol play a role in these beneficial effects. So add some ginger to your diet. But do remember that there’s no dodging the fact that a healthy diet and regular exercise are important components of preventing metabolic syndrome too.28
How to use:
- Having 3 gm of ginger a day can help improve factors like blood glucose, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol.29
7. Helps With Indigestion
Indigestion or dyspepsia can cause considerable pain and discomfort. A delay in emptying of the stomach after a meal plays a role in bringing on the symptoms of indigestion.30 And according to research, taking 1.2 gm of ginger powder before consuming food can speed up emptying of the stomach.31
How to use:
- Taking around 2 to 4 gm per day of fresh ginger, or its equivalent, can help with indigestion, gas, and heartburn.32
- Add freshly ground ginger to dishes when you cook; or eat some fresh ginger after a heavy meal for help with digestion. Ginger can also help reduce the symptoms of minor food poisoning to some extent.33
8. Soothes Coughs And Colds
A cup of warming ginger tea has been traditionally used to soothe an irritating cough and cold. How does it work? Shogaols in ginger have anti-inflammatory and antitussive (ability to suppress or relieve coughing) properties.34 So stick with the tried and tested ginger tea the next time you come down with a nasty cold.
How to use:
- Drink 2–3 cups per day of hot ginger tea to tackle a nasty cold. You can add a dash of honey and some lemon juice to boost the healing power of your ginger tea. Soothing honey coats your throat and relieves irritation while lemon has beneficial antioxidant and antiviral properties.35
- Chew on some fresh ginger several times a day for a natural detox and find relief from the symptoms of cold and flu.36
- Take one teaspoon of dry ginger powder or 2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger, add to 2 cups of water, and boil. Inhale the steam to reduce congestion and other cold symptoms.37
9. Reduces Severity Of Migraines
If you suffer from throbbing headaches brought on by migraines, ginger might be your salvation. According to research, consuming ginger powder can reduce the severity of a migraine attack within a couple of hours.38
How to use:
- Experts suggest taking around 500 mg of ginger when a migraine starts. You can repeat this dose every four hours, limiting yourself to 1.5 to 2 gm of ginger a day.
- Make yourself a cup of soothing ginger tea. Simmer about 2 teaspoons of freshly sliced ginger in 3 cups of boiling hot water for around 10 minutes and strain. Add a little honey and you’ve got some delicious ginger tea.39
How Can You Add Ginger To Your Diet?
Ginger is commonly used in a variety of forms – fresh, powdered, dried, pickled, candied etc. Try ginger pickled in sweet vinegar with sushi or use ground ginger in cakes, cookies, and curries.40 But the classic you have to try remains a cup of ginger tea!
Make Some Ginger Tea
If you want to start your day with some ginger tea, here’s a recipe you can use. Just simmer a couple of tablespoons of fresh chopped ginger in 3 cups of water for around 10 minutes and strain. Add a little honey and you’ve got some delicious ginger tea.41 Ginger tea also works well with other components and spices. Here are some combinations that you can try.
- Ginger and turmeric: Add some fresh turmeric which contains curcumin,42 an anti-inflammatory compound. Or whip up a spicy curry which commonly uses both these spices.
- Ginger and cinnamon: Combine cinnamon which can lower blood sugar43 with ginger which improves insulin sensitivity to control your blood sugar. So try a delicious cinnamon and ginger tea or use these spices in your cooking.
[expert_opinion expertname=’jenniferkanaan’ opinion=”One of the easiest ways to integrate ginger in your daily routine is to start the day with it. Go for lemon and fresh ginger tea first thing in the morning. In a cup of hot water, add a slice of ginger and let it sit for 5 minutes covered. Then add the juice of one lemon and drink! Make sure not to add any kind of sugars to the tea. It might be hard in the beginning but you will get used to it. The ginger lemon tea also helps clear your blood from toxins and wastes, strengthen your immune system, stimulate good digestion and keep your skin healthy and moisturized.”]
Cook With Ginger And Garlic
Ginger garlic paste is commonly used in Indian cuisine to add flavor to dishes. Like ginger, garlic has antioxidant properties.44 Wash and peel approximately equal amounts of ginger and garlic. Combine with a salt (to taste) and a dash of oil and grind to a smooth paste in a blender.
How Much Ginger Should You Have?
Ginger is generally considered to be a safe herb but its mechanism of action is still not completely understood so it is best to exercise caution when using it for therapeutic purposes.45
- Not more than 4 g a day if you are taking any blood-thinning medication or have a risk of hemorrhage46
- Not more than 2 g a day if you’re pregnant.47
- None for children under the age of 2 and people with gallstones, since it can increase the production of bile. Large amounts of ginger can cause mild heartburn, diarrhea, and irritation in the mouth.48
Your Doubts Answered
1. What Is Ayurveda’s Stance On Eating Ginger Daily?
[expert_opinion expertname=’sheetalsuvarna’ opinion=”Ginger as a spice is consumed by Asians on day to day basis, the prime reason being its distinctive taste and aroma along with its widely known benefits on the digestive system. Green fibrous rhizome is adrak/fresh ginger whereas the dried rhizome is called sunthi/dry ginger, both equally effective, dried ginger being increasingly potent owing to its reduced water content and concentration. Bestowed with a sharp pungent taste, hot potency, it anomalously exhibits a peculiar post digestive sweet effect resulting in various healing benefits on all the three doshas. Dried powder or fresh ginger juice with half teaspoon honey after meals everyday: It is best suited to relieve excessive mucus associated in diseases with Kapha dosha (water and earth dominant) involvement like cold, cough, flu, sinusitis, vomiting, nausea. Grated fresh ginger half teaspoon with a pinch of rock salt just before meal: Digestive, appetizing, carminative, this simple remedy cures anorexia, loss of taste, constipation, bad breath, sore throat, arthritic pain and is advisable on long-term basis especially for Kapha and Vata constitution. Dried ginger powder with rock sugar, milk, ghee in hyperacidity: Concentrated preparation of ginger could even result in adversely stimulating and accumulating Pitta (fire element), hence a suitable adjuvant like rock-sugar, milk, ghee is ideal specifically if you are a person with Pitta constitution, during hot season, in case of associated bleeding disorders of any nature or in the diseases of pitta dominance. Ginger tea is again a widely used alternative way of infusion in the milder form for daily intake in cold weather, for weight reduction, and improved digestion.”]
2. Can Ginger Help With My Weight Loss Routine?
[expert_opinion expertname=’andreacaprio’ opinion=”Weight gain may be linked to inflammation in the body. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties thanks to its key ingredient, gingerol, is a natural herb that should be part of a weight loss routine. Furthermore, gingerol slows down oxidative stress and free radicals, helping the body to reduce toxins that may be the root cause of weight loss resistance. Ginger also helps alleviating digestive issues which may affect the gut-brain axis responsible for triggering cravings. By improving the gut health, the functioning of neurotransmitters and hormones, particularly serotonin, the “hunger hormone” ghrelin and the “satiety hormone” leptin, may be improved. This may contribute to less cravings, feeling less hungry, thus reducing the quantity of food we consume to assist weight loss. Not much ginger is needed to enjoy its benefits. Add about ¼ – ½ inch of this versatile root herb daily to your food: Grated in soups, curries, and stews; chopped and mixed in vegetable stir fries; combined with olive oil, vinegar, and garlic in a salad dressing; combined with lemon and olive oil for a fish marinade; grated and mixed with mashed sweet potatoes; as a ginger tea (skip the honey); and my daily digestive morning booster tip: Warm water, half lemon juiced, ½ tsp grated ginger, ½ tsp grated turmeric.”]
[expert_opinion expertname=’juliepecarski’ opinion=”I wouldn’t categorize ginger as a weight loss aid. However, it is extremely anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and more! If you have any inflammation in the body, then ginger can certainly help to reduce it. And, often times, when inflammation is reduced, that’s when some weight loss can occur. I personally take 6 cups of filtered water, peel and thinly slice a medium size piece of ginger, and boil for 10 minutes. Then, I turn off the heat and let the ginger steep. I’ll then add some lemon and possibly some honey to sweeten it up. I’ll sip this, both warm or at room temperature, first thing in the morning and before bedtime to help with inflammation.”]
[expert_opinion expertname=’kimberlylackey’ opinion=”Ginger’s anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea properties are great for weight loss. Using ginger in your diet helps you to feel more full; naturally causing you to eat less. Ginger helps curb bloating and stomach upset. So not only does ginger help you lose weight it also helps you look more slender at the same time.”]
[expert_opinion expertname=’dr-lori’ opinion=”Ginger is an effective healthy choice to help reduce inflammation, shed weight and stubborn belly fat. It has been known for centuries in its ability to heal disease, illness, and weight gain. Research shows that the success of ginger can not only help with inflammation and other health conditions such as reducing oxidative stress, which takes a toll on your cells and hastens the aging process, but it can also powerfully affect the ability to burn fat. Ginger’s most marked bioactive compound, gingerol, has been found to burn body fat while reducing feelings of hunger. For the freshest flavor and health benefits, peeled, sliced ginger root is best, but organic powdered ginger is an acceptable alternative.”]
3. Is It True We Need To Eat Ginger On An Empty Stomach?
[expert_opinion expertname=’jenniferkanaan’ opinion=”Eating ginger has a long list of health benefits that would take too long to list. It is really good to consume ginger on an empty stomach in the morning but a mix of lemon, mint and maybe some cinnamon if you like. But it can also be very helpful taken at any time of the day!”]
[expert_opinion expertname=’juliepecarski’ opinion=”Not necessarily. In fact, some people may find ginger irritating on an empty stomach. However, if it’s blended with other ingredients, like a smoothie, then it may be easier to consume with other ingredients. Some people, like myself, can enjoy a fresh ginger tea with a small amount of honey first thing in the morning – I usually add some collagen which may make the nutrients easier for the body to absorb. So, it really is about preference.”]
[expert_opinion expertname=’swetavikram’ opinion=”Ginger has several healing properties. You can make ginger tea or if you can eat raw ginger, a good way to take it is to dip two or three thin slices of ginger in a little salt and lime juice and have them before a main meal. Eating slices of ginger sprinkled with salt before meals can increase saliva flow to aid digestion and prevent stomach issues.”]
[expert_opinion expertname=’andreacaprio’ opinion=”Ginger can be eaten at any time but it is particularly helpful for nausea or other digestive issues when eaten on an empty stomach as food and stomach acid won’t interfere with its beneficial actions.”]
4. What’s The Best Way To Store And Keep Ginger Fresh?
[expert_opinion expertname=’andreacaprio’ opinion=”The best way to keep ginger fresh is to freeze it. When I buy ginger, I grate a big amount and freeze it in an airtight container or freezer bag, like this it is easy to use and stays fresh. Another way is to store unpeeled ginger in a zipper bag, remove all the air and keep in the vegetable drawer of your fridge.”]
[expert_opinion expertname=’juliepecarski’ opinion=”I personally peel my garlic and store in the fresher for more longevity! When you’re ready to use, just simply grate it into whatever you are making. Alternatively, if you want to store your garlic in the fridge, I wrap mine with a damp paper towel and store in a bag. The paper towel helps to keep the ginger fresh!”]
[expert_opinion expertname=’jenniferkanaan’ opinion=”I have found out about this ginger storing technique some time ago and it works every time. I store the whole ginger (unpeeled) in a re-usable plastic bag while making sure that the edges that are cut or peeled are covered with a paper towel. Before zipping the bag, I release as much air as possible to keep it fresh for longer.”]
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|↑7, ↑8, ↑17, ↑32||Ginger. University of Michigan.|
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|↑12||Hobbs, Christopher; Keville, Kathi. Women’s Herbs, Women’s Health. Book Publishing Company, 2007.|
|↑14||Srivastava, K. C., and T. Mustafa. “Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in rheumatism and musculoskeletal disorders.” Medical hypotheses 39, no. 4 (1992): 342-348.|
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|↑19, ↑42||Chainani-Wu, Nita. “Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of turmeric (Curcuma longa).” The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine 9, no. 1 (2003): 161-168.|
|↑20||Blood Thinners. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑21||Verma, S. K., J. Singh, R. Khamesra, and A. Bordia. “Effect of ginger on platelet aggregation in man.” The Indian journal of medical research 98 (1993): 240-242.|
|↑25||What is insulin resistance?. Dietitians Association of Australia.|
|↑26||Mozaffari-Khosravi, Hassan, Behrouz Talaei, Beman-Ali Jalali, Azadeh Najarzadeh, and Mohammad Reza Mozayan. “The effect of ginger powder supplementation on insulin resistance and glycemic indices in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.” Complementary therapies in medicine 22, no. 1 (2014): 9-16.|
|↑27||Metabolic syndrome. Healthdirect Australia.|
|↑28||Nammi, Srinivas, Satyanarayana Sreemantula, and Basil D. Roufogalis. “Protective effects of ethanolic extract of Zingiber officinale rhizome on the development of metabolic syndrome in high‐fat diet‐fed rats.” Basic & clinical pharmacology & toxicology 104, no. 5 (2009): 366-373.|
|↑29||Andallu, B., B. Radhika, and V. Suryakantham. “Effect of aswagandha, ginger and mulberry on hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia.” Plant Foods for Human Nutrition (Formerly Qualitas Plantarum) 58, no. 3 (2003): 1-7.|
|↑30||Camilleri, Michael. “Does delayed gastric emptying really cause symptoms in functional dyspepsia?.” Gut 55, no. 7 (2006): 909-910.|
|↑31||Hu, Ming-Luen, Christophan K. Rayner, Keng-Liang Wu, Seng-Kee Chuah, Wei-Chen Tai, Yeh-Pin Chou, Yi-Chun Chiu, King-Wah Chiu, and Tsung-Hui Hu. “Effect of ginger on gastric motility and symptoms of functional dyspepsia.” World J Gastroenterol 17, no. 1 (2011): 105-10.|
|↑34||NIKAM, AJINKYA R., LOHIDASAN SATHIYANARAYANAN, and KAKASAHEB R. MAHADIK. “VALIDATION OF REVERSED-PHASE HIGH-PERFORMANCE LIQUID CHROMATOGRAPHY METHOD FOR SIMULTANEOUS DETERMINATION OF 6-, 8-, AND 10-SHOGAOL FROM GINGER PREPARATIONS.”|
|↑35||Khalil, Amira Mohammed Saed Mohammed, and Rasha Mohamed Gamal. “Honey with lemon Improves Children’s Nocturnal Cough and their Sleep Quality as well as Their Parents.” International Journal 3, no. 6 (2015): 143-152.|
|↑38||Maghbooli, Mehdi, Farhad Golipour, Alireza Moghimi Esfandabadi, and Mehran Yousefi. “Comparison between the efficacy of ginger and sumatriptan in the ablative treatment of the common migraine.” Phytotherapy Research 28, no. 3 (2014): 412-415.|
|↑39, ↑41||Vukovic, Laurel. Echinacea/Cold Flu Fighters. Basic Health Publications, Inc., 2003.|
|↑40||Bode, Ann M., and Zigang Dong. “The amazing and mighty ginger.” Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects (2011).|
|↑43||Khan, Alam, Mahpara Safdar, Mohammad Muzaffar Ali Khan, Khan Nawaz Khattak, and Richard A. Anderson. “Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes care 26, no. 12 (2003): 3215-3218.|
|↑44||Chung, Lip Yong. “The antioxidant properties of garlic compounds: allyl cysteine, alliin, allicin, and allyl disulfide.” Journal of medicinal food 9, no. 2 (2006): 205-213.|
|↑45||Bode, A. M., and Z. Dong. “Chapter 7: The Amazing and Mighty Ginger.” Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects 804 (2011).|
|↑47||Bone, Kerry. A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs E-Book: Herbal Formulations for the Individual Patient. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2003.|