Ginger: Health Benefits, Medicinal Uses, Sexual Benefits & All You Need to Know About Ginger
Table of Contents
Ginger, scientifically known as Zingiber officinale, is a perennial herbaceous plant that has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. The ginger plant is characterized by its narrow green leaves, yellow flowers, and an underground rhizome – the part commonly used in cooking and herbal remedies. People typically use fresh or dried ginger in cooking, herbal teas, and supplements for its potential health benefits.
In this article, we will explore the various health benefits of ginger, its medicinal uses, and the scientific research that supports them.
Health Benefits of Ginger
1. Reducing Gas and Improving Digestion
According to a 2018 review, several studies have investigated ginger’s effects on gas formation in the intestinal tract during digestion. Enzymes present in ginger can help break up and expel gas, providing relief from discomfort. Ginger may also help increase movement through the digestive tract, suggesting that it can help relieve or prevent constipation.
Ginger also appears to have beneficial effects on the enzyme pancreatic lipase, which aids digestion in the small intestine.
2. Relieving Nausea
A 2020 review indicates that ginger can help alleviate morning sickness and relieve nausea following cancer treatment. Gingerols and shogaols, the compounds responsible for ginger’s odor, have been found to be effective in preventing nausea and vomiting. The concentrations of these compounds can vary depending on the form of ginger, with dried ginger having the highest concentration, followed by fresh ginger and powdered ginger tea.
One study analyzed in the review included 576 adult cancer patients, and researchers found that doses of 0.5 grams (g) and 1.0 g were most effective at reducing nausea. However, the results were mixed across the seven studies reviewed, possibly due to differences in ginger forms and preparations. More research in humans is needed to fully understand ginger’s effects on nausea and other gastrointestinal issues.
3. Supporting the Immune System
Ginger’s potential immune-boosting properties come from its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. While the evidence supporting ginger’s use for recovery from cold and flu is mostly anecdotal, some studies suggest that daily ginger consumption may support the immune system and protect against chronic diseases.
A large cross-sectional study from 2017 suggested that daily ginger consumption might support the immune system, protecting against chronic diseases and aiding recovery from illnesses like the common cold or flu. A small 2019 study found that daily consumption of ginger extract was associated with a stronger antibody response in nonsmokers. However, further research is needed to confirm these findings.
4. Reducing Inflammation
Ginger has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce inflammation in the body. A 2015 review concluded that taking ginger orally is “modestly efficacious and reasonably safe” for treating inflammation caused by osteoarthritis. However, the authors noted that the studies included in their analysis were small and might not represent the general population.
A 2017 review of 16 clinical trials determined that ginger’s phytochemical properties could combat inflammation. These authors also called for further research into the most effective dosages and types of ginger extract.
5. Relieving Pain
Ginger may help ease pain through its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, primarily due to its gingerol compounds. A 2016 review concluded that ginger might specifically help reduce dysmenorrhea, or pain right before or during a period. However, the authors acknowledged that the studies reviewed were often small or of poor quality. More research is needed to explore the connection between ginger consumption and pain relief.
6. Supporting Cardiovascular Health
There is some evidence suggesting that ginger extract may help prevent cardiovascular diseases. A 2017 study of 4,628 people found that daily ginger consumption could protect against coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, cerebrovascular disease, and fatty liver disease, among other chronic conditions. The authors concluded that ginger might have potential as a preventive therapy.
Further research is needed to determine if ginger can support treatment for those with cardiovascular disease. A small 2016 study found that ginger extract helped reduce heart abnormalities in rats with diabetes, possibly due to its antioxidant properties.
7. Lowering Cancer Risk
Ginger is an excellent source of antioxidants, which can help reduce oxidative stress in the body. This stress occurs when too many free radicals, toxic substances produced by metabolism, and other factors accumulate in the body. Free radicals can cause cellular damage, leading to conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart attack, chronic inflammation, and cancer. Dietary antioxidants, like those found in ginger, can help the body eliminate free radicals.
A 2015 review suggests that ginger may be effective against certain gastrointestinal cancers, including colorectal, gastric, pancreatic, and liver cancer. The review concludes that ginger may inhibit the growth of cancer cells in some types of cancer or contribute to the death of cancer cells in others.
8. Ginger and Honey Benefits Sexually
Ginger and honey are both believed to have various health benefits, including potential aphrodisiac effects. Ginger has been found to improve blood circulation, which is essential for sexual health. Additionally, honey is rich in vitamins, minerals, and natural sugars, which may help boost energy levels and overall well-being. While there is limited scientific evidence to support the sexual benefits of ginger and honey, some people find that consuming these natural remedies can enhance their sexual experiences.
9. Red Ginger vs. Wild Ginger
Red ginger (Alpinia purpurata) and wild ginger (Asarum canadense) are two different species of ginger plants. Red ginger, also known as torch ginger, is native to Southeast Asia and is known for its vibrant red flowers. It is primarily used as an ornamental plant but has also been used in traditional medicine. Wild ginger, on the other hand, is native to North America and has heart-shaped leaves and small, inconspicuous flowers. It has been used by Native Americans for various medicinal purposes, although its use is less common today.
10. Ginger Hair Colour
Ginger hair color, also known as red or auburn hair, is a natural hair color that occurs in about 1-2% of the human population. It is caused by a variation in the MC1R gene, which is responsible for producing melanin, the pigment that gives color to hair, skin, and eyes. People with ginger hair often have fair skin and freckles due to their reduced ability to produce melanin.
Ginger and Garlic Benefits for Women’s Health
Ginger and garlic are both known for their numerous health benefits. For women, these two natural remedies can help in various ways:
- Menstrual Pain Relief: As mentioned earlier, ginger can help reduce dysmenorrhea, or pain before or during a period.
- Immune System Support: Both ginger and garlic have immune-boosting properties that can help protect against infections and illnesses.
- Improved Cardiovascular Health: Ginger and garlic can both help improve heart health by reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and improving circulation.
- Cancer Prevention: Both ginger and garlic contain antioxidants and other compounds that may help prevent certain types of cancer.
- Weight Management: Ginger and garlic can both help improve metabolism and digestion, potentially aiding in weight management.
These benefits make ginger and garlic valuable additions to a woman’s diet for overall health and well-being.
Ginger and Ulcer
Ginger has long been used as a remedy for various gastrointestinal issues, including ulcers. Some studies have shown that ginger may help protect the stomach lining from damage caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can cause ulcers in some individuals. Additionally, ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce inflammation and promote healing in those with existing ulcers. However, more research is needed to fully understand ginger’s effects on ulcers and how it can be used as a treatment.
Ginger and Lemon Benefits
Combining ginger and lemon can offer numerous health benefits, including:
- Improved Digestion: Both ginger and lemon can help support digestion and alleviate symptoms like bloating, gas, and constipation.
- Immune System Support: Ginger and lemon are rich in antioxidants and have antibacterial properties, which can help support the immune system and protect against illness.
- Weight Management: The combination of ginger and lemon can help boost metabolism, promote fat burning, and reduce appetite, which may aid in weight management.
- Detoxification: Ginger and lemon can help cleanse the body by stimulating liver function and promoting the elimination of toxins.
- Improved Skin Health: The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in ginger and lemon can help promote healthy, glowing skin.
Incorporating ginger and lemon into your diet, whether through teas, juices, or infused water, can provide a range of health benefits to support overall well-being.
In conclusion, ginger is a versatile and powerful natural remedy with a long history of use in traditional medicine. Its potential health benefits include improved digestion, reduced inflammation, immune system support, and protection against various chronic diseases. Incorporating ginger into your diet, along with other natural remedies like garlic, honey, and lemon, can help promote overall health and well-being.