People have used ginger in cooking and medicine since ancient times. It is a popular home remedy for nausea, stomach pain, and other health issues.
People usually use fresh or dried ginger for cooking, and some take ginger supplements for their potential health benefits.
The antioxidants and other nutrients in ginger can help prevent or treat arthritis, inflammation, and various types of infections. Researchers have also looked at the potential to reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, and other health problems.
In this article, you will learn more about the possible health benefits of ginger and the research results behind it.
Ginger can have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and other healthy properties. Here are some of the possible medical uses of ginger.
Reducing gas and improving digestion
Several studies have examined the effects of ginger on gases that form in the intestinal tract during digestion.
Some research shows that the enzymes in ginger can help the body break down and expel this gas, thereby alleviating discomfort.
Ginger also appears to have beneficial effects on the trypsin and pancreatic lipase enzymes, which are important for digestion.
In addition, ginger can help increase movement in the digestive tract, suggesting that it can relieve or prevent constipation.
Some research shows that ginger can help alleviate morning sickness and nausea after cancer treatment.
A small 2010 study looked at the effects of ginger root powder on nausea in 60 children and young adults who had undergone chemotherapy. The analysis showed that the supplement resulted in reduced nausea in most people who took it.
The authors of a study from 2011 came to similar results. They reported that taking a divided daily dose of 1,500 milligrams (mg) of ginger extract helped alleviate the nausea symptoms.
They also called for further human studies to fully understand the effects of ginger on nausea and other gastrointestinal problems.
Easing a cold or the flu
Many people use ginger to recover from a cold or flu. However, the evidence for this remedy is mostly anecdotal.
In 2013, the researchers examined the effects of fresh and dried ginger on a respiratory virus in human cells.
The results show that fresh ginger can help protect the airways, while dried ginger doesn’t have the same effect.
Also in 2013, a small study attempted to examine the popularity of herbal medicine for the treatment of the common cold or flu.
After interviewing 300 drugstore customers in two different locations, the researchers found that 69% of the respondents used herbal medicines and the majority of this group found that they were effective.
Although ginger was one of the most popular ingredients in these remedies, some participants may not have used it.
Researchers behind a small study involving 74 volunteers found that a daily dose of 2 grams (g) of raw or hot ginger reduced muscle pain from exercise by about 25%.
In the meantime, a 2016 study concluded that ginger can help reduce dysmenorrhea and pain just before or during menstruation. However, the authors acknowledge that the studies included were often small or of poor quality.
Ingestion of ginger by mouth is “modestly effective and fairly safe” in treating inflammation caused by osteoarthritis, a group of researchers concluded.
However, they found that the studies included in their meta-analysis were small and may not represent the general population.
A review of 16 clinical trials in 2017 found that the phytochemical properties of ginger can fight inflammation. These authors also called for more research on the most effective doses and types of ginger extract.
Supporting cardiovascular health
There is evidence that ginger extract can help with cardiovascular disease.
For example, a review found that a dose of 5 g or more can result in significant beneficial inhibition of platelet aggregation.
The authors acknowledge that many of the surveys included in their analysis did not involve human participants, or that the number of participants was too small to ensure reliable results.
However, they suggest that with more research, ginger can be a safe form of treatment for cardiovascular disease.
In the meantime, a small study found that ginger extract helped reduce the incidence of heart defects in diabetic rats. The authors found that this reduction may be due in part to the extract’s antioxidant properties.
Lowering cancer risk
Ginger doesn’t provide protein or other nutrients, but it’s a great source of antioxidants. Studies have shown that ginger can reduce various types of oxidative stress for this reason.
Oxidative stress occurs when there are too many free radicals in the body. Free radicals are toxic substances that are generated by metabolism and other factors.
The body needs to trap free radicals to prevent them from causing cell damage that can lead to various diseases, including cancer. Dietary antioxidants help the body eliminate free radicals.
In a 2013 study, the researchers gave 20 participants 2 g of ginger or a placebo for 28 days. All participants were at high risk of developing colon cancer.
Biopsies showed that participants who consumed ginger had less negative changes in healthy colon tissue. This group had also reduced cell proliferation. The results show that ginger can play a role in preventing colon cancer.
Ginger is a good source of antioxidants but doesn’t contain many vitamins, minerals, or calories.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2 teaspoons of ginger provide just 4 calories. This amount does not provide a significant amount of nutrients.
How to Make Ginger Tea
I tried several ginger tea methods, and the easiest way is truly the best way. Here’s how to do it:
- Thinly slice your fresh ginger. You don’t need to peel it first, but do rinse it and scrub off any visible dirt. Plan on using about a one-inch piece of ginger per cup of tea.
- In a saucepan, combine the ginger with freshwater (use one cup of water per serving).
- Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Simmer for five minutes (or up to 10 minutes, if you want extra-strong tea). I usually think it’s pungent enough at five minutes.
- Pour the tea through a fine sieve to catch all of the ginger. If desired, serve your tea with a thin round of lemon or orange for some complimentary acidity. You might also appreciate a light drizzle of honey or maple syrup, which will temper the fiery ginger flavor.