Do you love your cup of ginger tea? If yes, then here is good news for you! The humble herb offers many health benefits.
Ginger is a perennial herb native to China and India. It is obtained from the plant Zingiber officinale. It is one of the most revered medicines in Ayurveda. Ginger is often referred to as a root, but it is actually an underground stem called rhizome. As a spice, the use of ginger dates back 4000 years. The medicinal properties of ginger were discovered around 2000 years ago.
The National Library of Medicine has stated that the ginger root is used all over the world to treat nausea, loss of appetite, and vomiting, especially after surgery. It is also effective in treating nausea caused due to cancer treatment, colic, stomach upset, flatulence, motion sickness, and morning sickness.
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 the inner flesh ranges from ivory, creamy white to pale greenish-yellow in color, depending on the variety. The over-matured roots generally contain fibrils running through their centre. Ginger has a peppery flavor, with a hint of lemon, and a 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, pickled, or used in the form of juice or oil. Ginger tea is a favourite in Indian households 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, gingerbread, ginger biscuits and ginger cake.
Ginger Health Benefits
Ginger is considered 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 the persistent cough and sore throat associated with colds. Ginger tea helps to get rid of congestion of the throat and the nose. A mixture of fresh ginger juice and fenugreek is helpful in curing asthma. Ginger is also found to be helpful in treating stomach flu or food poisoning. This is one of the most applied uses of ginger.
2. Aids Digestion
Ginger is considered the best herb for digestion. Consumption of ginger encourages the gallbladder to release bile, stimulating digestion. This encourages the assimilation of nutrients from the food we eat. In addition to this, ginger also provides relief from stomach cramps, diarrhea and bloating caused due to gastritis. We can take ginger in the form of tea or supplements to aid digestion.
Several studies have demonstrated ginger’s ability to fight various types of cancer cells, including lung, ovarian, prostate, breast and colon cancer. Researchers at Michigan University have found that ginger powder can kill ovarian cancer cells. It can also treat prostate cancer by killing cancer inducing cells. Ginger contains gingerol, a compound that is shown to have anti-metastatic properties and can help treat breast cancer and ovarian cancer. According to the health experts, ginger root is one of the most inexpensive and effective ways of preventing the onset of cancer and improving the life quality as it eliminates toxic substances from the body.
4. Chemotherapy Nausea
Chemotherapy is a treatment recommended after the cancer surgery to eliminate the presence of the cancerous cells so that the chances of recurrence of this disease can be minimized. Ginger root supplements are helpful in reducing nausea induced by the chemotherapy, when administered along with the other anti-vomiting medications. According to a lead researcher at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, Florida, Dr. Julie Ryan, more than 70 percent cancer patients who are exposed to chemotherapy radiations experience vomiting and nausea. The intake of ginger root supplement or juice before the chemotherapy reduces nausea and vomiting symptoms as the ginger root provides anti-inflammatory properties to the body. It is also found to be effective in treating sensations of nausea associated with motion sickness, sea sickness, etc.
5. 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 morning sickness.
Ginger is very beneficial for treating chronic inflammation. It provides substantial relief from pain caused due to inflammation and even decreases swelling and morning stiffness. It successfully inhibits cyclooxygenase and five-lipoxygenase-enzymes that cause inflammation.
According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan Medical School, ginger root supplement, when administered to the people suffering from colon inflammation, was found to be very effective in alleviating the condition. The co-researcher, Suzanna M. Nick, who was a part of the study, has stated that a reduction in the colon inflammation helps reduce the chances of developing cancer in the colon.
7. Reduction Of Pain
The analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of ginger is effective are reducing the pain and swelling in the patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee, rheumatoid arthritis, and general muscle discomfort. Ginger root also alleviates pain and is especially beneficial for those who have to take a painkiller to reduce the arthritis inflammation. 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. If such patients incorporate ginger root supplements regularly in their diet, their need for painkiller medication will be reduced considerably. Thus, ginger is very beneficial for relieving pains caused due to rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.
Ginger can be used both externally and internally to treat inflammation. To prepare a ginger bath, boil 100 ml of water with a few slices of ginger. Cover the vessel to prevent volatile oils from evaporating. Leave it aside for 10 minutes and then add this mixture to your regular bath water. Using this water every day can help ease aches and pains associated with fibromyalgia.
8. Menstrual Cramp Relief
Taking ginger at the beginning of the menstrual period can reduce the symptoms of menstrual pain in some women. Ginger tea with brown sugar is often used in the treatment of menstrual cramps in Chinese medicine.
9. Muscle Pain Due To Exercise
A study carried out on 74 volunteers at a Georgian University revealed that the consumption of ginger root supplements daily reduces the muscle pain caused due to exercise by 25 percent. Two studies carried out on the effects of heat-treated and raw ginger root supplements have shown that the regular use of ginger root in the diet helps reduce the muscle pain induced by exercise. During the research, the participants were made to consume ginger supplements daily for around 11 consecutive days. When the participants performed heavyweight elbow flexors on the 8th day to induce minimum injury to the muscles of the arms, it was found that due to the heat treatment provided by the ginger root internally, the muscle inflammation and pain levels were considerably low.
10. Relieves Migraines
Ginger provides migraine relief as it can inhibit the prostaglandins from causing pain and inflammation in the blood vessels. Applying diluted ginger paste on the forehead provides relief from migraine.
11. Manages Glucose Levels
Australian research scientists have suggested that ginger can lower the blood glucose levels in the body. Since the glucose levels have a direct impact on your weight gain or weight loss process along with how lethargic or energetic you feel all through the day, the regular intake of ginger root supplements in any form can bring a noticeable change in your levels of blood sugar. People who are more prone to low sugar levels should always incorporate ginger root supplements in their regular diet to avoid such problems. Ginger has been found to be effective in reducing the incidence of diabetic nephropathy (kidney damage).
Ginger can calm an 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.
13. Relief From Heartburn
Ginger has been used as a natural remedy for the treatment of heartburn. Ginger tea is very effective for this purpose.
14. Protection Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Recent researches suggest that Alzheimer’s disease can be an inherited and runs as a common disease in many families. In case you belong to such a family and want to protect yourself from Alzheimer’s disease, then you should include ginger root in your daily diet. Researches further state that ginger slows down the process by which the brain loses its cells, which can be the precursor to Alzheimer’s. Ginger helps to protect and preserve the brain cells, thereby keeping you active, coherent and alert for prolonged periods.
15. Promotes Weight Loss
If you want to lose weight, then ginger root can be of great help as it plays an integral role in the process of weight loss. It is touted as one of the biggest fat burners as it not only promotes general weight loss, but also eliminates the stubborn fat from your body. Ginger root supplements make you feel satiated after you eat a meal, even in small portions. This limits your food intake, thereby causing weight loss.
16. Packed With Essential Oils
Ginger root is packed with a host of essential oils such as zingerone, gingerol, farnesene, shogaol and β-phelladren, citral and cineol in small amounts. Gingerols improve the intestinal motility and act as painkillers. They soothe the nerves and provide antibacterial and antipyretic benefits to the body. Studies also reveal that gingerols are extremely effective in relieving a migraine headache.
17. Lowers Cholesterol And Blood Pressure
The antioxidant properties of the essential oils in the ginger root are highly effective in treating joint problems, fevers, coughs, toothaches, bronchitis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and easing the symptoms of tendonitis. Some studies have revealed that the ginger root supplements can lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It also helps prevent internal blood clots.
18. Enhances Immunity
A strong immune system can keep all the diseases and infections at bay. Instead of taking medications to treat a particular disease or a condition, it is always better to take measures to prevent them. Ginger root extract is quite helpful in improving the immunity of your body. The regular consumption of ginger in small amounts reduces the risk of stroke by eliminating the fatty deposits within the arteries and keeping the blood circulation free.
Skin Benefits Of Ginger
In addition to its medicinal value, ginger has been used in skin care as well. It is often used in a number of commercial products to improve the skin. Ginger juice is often applied topically to treat several skin issues. Given below are the benefits of ginger for the skin:
19. Anti-Aging Benefits
Ginger contains around 40 antioxidant compounds that protect against aging. It improves the appearance of your skin by removing the toxins and stimulating the circulation, resulting in the delivery of more nutrients to the skin. The antioxidants prevent damage from the free radicals, thus preserving the youthful appearance of the skin. It improves the elasticity, making your skin more firm and youthful. In this way, it slows down the signs of aging.
20. Soothes Burns
Applying fresh ginger juice can relieve the pain and heal burnt skin by restoring it to the natural position. You can also rub a fresh ginger slice on the skin two to three times a day to fade the scars within 6 to 12 weeks. Ensure to use a fresh ginger slice each time for topical application.
21. Clears Blemishes And Acne
Being a powerful antiseptic and cleansing agent, ginger helps in keeping 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.
22. 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 a slight improvement within a week or two. However, this should be done every day without fail for noticeable results.
23. 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 two grated gingers with two tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of 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 and prevent aging.
Hair Benefits Of Ginger
Ginger has been used for hair treatment for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine, which relies on herbs for the treatment of ailments. Ginger oil is particularly beneficial in this regard as it stimulates the hair growth. Thus, ginger is beneficial for your hair in the following ways.
24. Stimulates Hair Growth
Ginger increases the 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 one tablespoon of ginger root in a small bowl and adding one 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 and stimulate hair growth.
25. 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.
26. Treatment Of Hair Loss
Ginger root is a great remedy for hair loss. Ginger extracts make your hair stronger and pleasant smelling.
27. Treatment Of Split Ends
Split ends are caused when the hair follicles get damaged due to the exposure to pollutants and excessive heat. Ginger extracts can be used in the treatment of damaged hair follicles.
28. Treatment Of Dandruff
Dandruff is one of the most common scalp problems. Ginger has antiseptic properties that can help to get rid of dandruff. Ginger oil is an effective remedy to combat dandruff naturally. For this purpose, you can mix two tablespoons of freshly grated ginger with three tablespoons 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.
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 (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Percentage of RDA
Gingerol: Gingerol is a 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 the electrolyte balance in the body fluids, magnesium aids in muscle relaxation, copper manages the blood sugar and bone metabolism, and manganese is a component of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase.
What Can You Do With Ginger Root?
A flavorful paste for curry can be made by mixing dried or fresh ginger root with onion, cumin, garlic, tomato, cilantro and mustard seeds. This combination is blended in the mixer and is added to innumerable varieties of soups, meat and vegetable curries.
- Traditionally it is used in lemon, spondias and lemon pickle preparation.
- Fresh ginger roots are also used to prepare different types of candies, gingerbread and biscuits and spicy snacks.
- Ginger tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world, especially in the Asian countries.
- Ginger root juice is used as a garnishing syrup by combining it with apples, lemon juice, and carrot.
- Grated ginger root is sprinkled on different types of desserts to enhance the flavor.
- Some of the most popular recipes of ginger root include ginger candies, pumpkin ginger cupcakes, ginger syrup for making ginger ale, ginger flavored pancakes and more.
Ginger can be taken in both fresh and dried forms for various medicinal purposes. It is available in the form of oil, capsules and tinctures.
Ginger is generally free of side effects, but some people might experience mild heartburn, diarrhea and stomach upset. People suffering from gallstones should consult their doctor before consuming ginger.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take ginger supplements without consulting their doctor. Ginger may interact with blood thinning, high blood pressure and diabetes medication.
Ginger is readily available in most Indian kitchens. Sip on ginger tea, or use it as a supplement, you are sure to derive huge benefits from this wonder herb!
So how about growing ginger on your own? Just plant the ginger root in the soil and see it multiply within a couple of weeks to give you the supply of fresh ginger root every day. It needs little maintenance and provides great benefits. Moreover, when you grow it organically without any pesticides, the effect of the ginger root compounds gets enhanced.
Do you know of any other benefits of ginger root? Share with us in the comments section below.
- Is Ginger An Effective Remedy For Arthritis Pain?
- Is Ginger An Effective Remedy For Morning Sickness?
- Take Ginger And Say Good Bye To High Blood Pressure Once And For All!
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