Ginger is a herb that has been used as a spice since times immemorial. Also known as ginger root, it is basically the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale belonging to the family Zingiberaceae which also includes turmeric, cardamom and galangal. Ginger root has a rather irregular shape comprising of bulbous little joints from which small bumps grow. Fresh ginger root has a grey outer surface whereas inner flesh ranges from ivory, creamy white to pale greenish yellow in colour depending upon the variety. Over-matured roots generally contain fibrils running through its centre. Ginger has a peppery flavour with a hint of lemon and sharp aroma. Its pungent, spicy and aromatic smell can be attributed to the presence of essential oils and phenolic compounds such as gingerols and shogaols.
Due to its strong and spicy aroma, ginger occupies an important place as a spice, delicacy and even medicine. Apart from being used fresh, it is dried, powdered or pickled or used in the form of juice or oil. Ginger tea is a favourite in Indian household and a great remedy for battling cold and flu. It has been recognized by Ayurveda due to its medicinal properties. Nowadays, it is also being used in sweet foods in Western cuisine such as ginger ale, ginger snaps, ginger bread, ginger biscuits and ginger cake.
Ginger Health Benefits:
Ginger is considered as the ‘chest of medicine’ in Ayurveda due to its various health benefits. Its powerful therapeutic and preventive effects make it usable in the treatment of various ailments. Here are some of the medicinal uses of ginger.
1. Treatment of Respiratory Problems:
Due to its antihistamine properties, ginger is effective in treating allergies. It inhibits airway contraction and helps in stimulating the secretion of mucus. For centuries it has been used as a natural remedy for colds and flu. A teaspoon of ginger juice and honey is effective in relieving persistent cough and sore throat associated with colds. Ginger tea helps to get rid of congestion of the throat and nose. A mixture of fresh ginger juice and fenugreek is helpful during asthma. Ginger is also found to be helpful in treating stomach flu or food poisoning. This is one of the most applied ginger uses.
2. Treatment of Nausea and Vomiting:
Chewing ginger can reduce nausea and vomiting. It has been found to be effective in treating sensations of nausea associated with surgery or motion sickness, sea sickness etc. It can also treat nausea caused as a result of chemotherapy.
3. Treatment of Morning Sickness:
Research has proved that ginger is as effective as vitamin B6 in treating morning sickness. Thus, it is often recommended to pregnant women for preventing their morning sickness.
4. Aids in Digestion:
Ginger aids in digestion by improving absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients. It helps break down the proteins in your food and prevents ulcers by promoting mucus secretion.
5. Menstrual Cramp Relief:
Taking ginger at the beginning of the menstrual period can reduce symptoms of menstrual pain in some women. Ginger tea with brown sugar is often used in the treatment of menstrual cramps in Chinese medicine.
6. Relieves Migraines:
Ginger has the ability to provide migraine relief as it can inhibit prostaglandins from causing pain and inflammation in blood vessels. Applying diluted ginger paste on the forehead provides relief from migraine headache.
7. Treatment of Ovarian Cancer:
Ginger root has a high level of antioxidants that can induce cancer cell death (apoptosis) and suppress certain proteins. Thus, it is a powerful weapon for treatment of ovarian cancer. Ginger powder induces cell death in all ovarian cancer cells to which it is applied.
8. Prevention of Colon Cancer:
According to research conducted at the University of Minnesota, ginger has the ability to slow the growth of colorectal cancer cells. This is due to the fact that it defends against cell damage and associated disease caused by free radicals. Furthermore, it decreases cancer cell proliferation and suppresses mechanisms that initiate cancer cell activation.
9. Reduction of Pain and Inflammation:
The analgesic and anti-inflammatory property of ginger is effective in reducing the pain and swelling in patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee, rheumatoid arthritis and general muscle discomfort. Adding ginger oil to your bath can help relieve muscle and joint ache. In case of muscle strain, you can apply a mixture of warm ginger paste and turmeric for relief.
10. Prevention of Diabetic Nephropathy:
Ginger has been found to be effective in reducing the incidence of diabetic nephropathy (kidney damage). Diabetic patients are often advised to drink ginger in water early in the morning to regulate their glucose levels.
Ginger can calm upset stomach, thanks to its carminative (gas expulsion) property. Thus, it provides relief from bloating and gas and helps reduce flatulence. It is advisable to take ginger in doses of 250 to 500 mg 2 to 3 times a day to get relief from flatulence.
12. Relief from Heartburn:
Ginger has been used as a natural remedy for the treatment of heartburn. Ginger tea is very effective for this purpose.
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Skin Benefits of Ginger:
In addition to its medicinal value, ginger has been used in skincare as well. It is often used in a number of commercial products to improve skin. Ginger juice is often applied topically to treat several skin issues. Given below are the benefits of ginger for skin:
13. Anti-ageing Benefits:
Ginger contains around 40 antioxidant compounds that protect against ageing. It improves the appearance of your skin by removing toxins and stimulating circulation, resulting in delivery of more nutrients to the skin. The antioxidants prevent damage from free radicals, thus preserving the youthful appearance of the skin. It improves elasticity making your skin more firm and youthful. In this way, it slows down the signs of ageing.
14. Soothes Burns:
Applying fresh ginger juice can give relief from the pain as well as heal burnt skin by restoring it to the natural position. You can also rub fresh ginger slice on the skin 2 to 3 times a day to fade the scars within 6 to 12 weeks. Ensure to use a fresh ginger slice each time for topical application.
15. Clears Blemishes and Acne:
Being a powerful antiseptic and cleansing agent, ginger helps to keep the skin clean, smooth and free of blemishes. Besides, it also invigorates and stimulates your skin. It is also the best natural acne fighting weapon as it minimizes the rate of acne formation and eruption by killing and clearing the acne causing bacteria.
16. Treatment of Hypopigmented Scars (white scars):
Hypopigmented scars occur when the skin loses its pigmentation and are generally white or much lighter than the actual skin tone. Ginger can reduce the appearance of hypopigmented skin to a significant extent. All you need to do is cut a sliver of fresh ginger and dab it on the hypopigmented areas and leave it for some time. You will see slight improvement within a week or two. However, this should be done every day without fail for noticeable results.
17. Tones Skin:
Ginger is known for its aphrodisiac, antioxidant and toning properties which contribute to radiant skin. You can prepare a simple mask by mixing 2 grated gingers with 2 tablespoons honey and 1 teaspoon lemon juice and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Apply it on your face and rinse with cool water after 30 minutes. This will nourish and soften your skin as well as prevent ageing.
[ Read: Uses of Citronella Oil ]
Hair Benefits of Ginger:
Ginger has been used in hair treatment for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine which relies upon the herbs for treatment of ailments. Ginger oil is particularly beneficial in this regard to stimulate hair growth. Thus, ginger is beneficial for your hair in the following ways.
18. Stimulates Hair Growth:
Ginger increases scalp circulation resulting in the flow of blood to the scalp. Thus it stimulates the hair follicles and encourages growth. The fatty acids present in ginger are beneficial for thin hair. You can make a hair mask by grating 1 tablespoon of ginger root in a small bowl and adding 1 tablespoon of jojoba oil to it. Massage your scalp with this mixture in circular motions and leave for 30 minutes or longer. Rinse off and shampoo as usual. This will combat hair loss and thinning hair as well as stimulate hair growth.
19. Good for Dry and Brittle Hair:
Ginger is great for dry and brittle hair as it contains vitamins, zinc and phosphorus which impart sheen to your hair.
20. Treatment of Hair Loss:
Ginger root is a great remedy for hair loss. Ginger extracts make your hair stronger as well as pleasant smelling.
21. Treatment of Split Ends:
Split ends are caused when the hair follicles get damaged due to exposure to pollutants and excessive heat. Ginger extracts can be used in the treatment of damaged hair follicles.
22. Treatment of Dandruff:
Dandruff is one of the most common scalp problems. Ginger has antiseptic properties which can help to get rid of dandruff. Ginger oil is an effective remedy to combat dandruff naturally. For this purpose, you can mix 2 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger with 3 tablespoon of sesame or olive oil and add a dash of lemon juice to the mixture. Massage your scalp with it and rinse off after 15 to 30 minutes. This should be done thrice a week to get a dandruff free scalp.
[ Read: How To Use Vitamin E Capsules for Face ]
Nutritional Value of Ginger:
Ginger has a great nutritional profile comprising of protein, calcium, iron, folic acid, carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and amino acids, making it a source of valuable dietary elements.
Fresh, Nutrient value per 100 g
Percentage of RDA
|Total Fat||0.75 g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber||2.0 g||5%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.203 mg||4%|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0%|
|Vitamin C||5 mg||8%|
|Vitamin E||0.26 mg||1.5%|
|Vitamin K||0.1 µg||0%|
- Gingerol: Gingerol is yellow pungent oil in ginger that is responsible for imparting its intense flavor. Its chemical structure is similar to that of capsaicin, the compound that gives hot peppers their spicy flavor. Gingerol possesses anti-inflammatory properties and is a blood sugar modulator. Moreover, it regulates two important enzymes that manage type-2 diabetes and inhibits cyclooxygenase, enzyme that promotes inflammation.
- Shogaol: It is a phenolic compound that has been found to possess substantial anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties, making it effective against breast cancer. They have greater anti-inflammatory and antitumor effects than gingerol, resulting in prevention of lung and colon cancers.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin B6 is also effective in reducing inflammation. A 1 oz. serving of ginger provides about 2.5 % of the recommended daily value (DV) of vitamin B6. Fresh ginger has a higher content of vitamin B6 than dried or sugar cured ginger as drying or adding sugar can destroy vitamin B6. Ginger also contains modest amounts of important minerals. An ounce of ginger provides about 2 to 3% of the recommended DV of magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese. Potassium is vital for maintaining electrolyte balance in body fluids, magnesium aids in muscle relaxation, copper manages blood sugar and bone metabolism, and manganese is a component of antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase.
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