Health Benefits of Ginger

According to an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, ginger is one of the top food sources of antioxidants[1]. In addition to fighting free radicals, ginger may also help those suffering with joint issues, asthma, motion sickness, etc. 

Health Benefits

  • Ginger contains the following phytochemicals:[7]
    • Gingerols,
      • This ingredient may be why ginger helps reduce pain and improve function in many people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
        • In one study, ginger showed a statistically significant effect on reducing symptoms associated with osteoarthritis in the knee[2]
        • Ginger like some arthritis drugs is a COX-2 inhibitor.
        • Ginger has been shown to lessen the pain of knee osteoarthritis when taken in highly purified, standardized supplement form.
      • This ingredient fights cancer by preventing cancer cells from multiplying—and even by encouraging them to just drop dead.
      • Gingerol also prevents platelets in your blood from clotting, which reduces your chance of a heart attack or stroke.
      • In [3], it shows that [6]-Gingerol exhibits preventive and/or therapeutic potential for the management of Alzheimer's Disease via augmentation of antioxidant capacity.
    • Glucosides
      • Glucosides appear to have antioxidant activity that protects against cancer and heart disease.
    • Phenolic substances
      • The pungent phenolic substances in ginger fight inflammation
  • Ginger prevents the symptoms of motion sickness, especially seasickness.
  • Ginger is shown to be very useful in reducing the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. [4]
    • The current thinking for the way ginger relieves nausea is that compounds in ginger  bind to receptors in the gastrointestinal tract that then act to turn down the sensation of nausea and to accelerate digestion, thus reducing the time food sits in the stomach[4].
    • National Cancer Institute study found that if patients take 0.5 to 1.0 g of ginger for three days before and after chemotherapy along with antinausea medications, nausea is reduced by additional 40%.
  • Ginger enhances circulation (i.e. blood flow).
    • Sip a cup of hot ginger tea on a cold winter night and you will appreciate the warming properties of ginger, as it improves circulation by gently opening blood vessels in the feet and hands.
  • Ginger contains chemicals that work similarly to some anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Ginger promotes good digestion.

    • Ginger reduces gastrointestinal distress.
    • "Ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander, clove, cinnamon, and garlic all promote good digestion," says Andrew Parkinson, N.D.
  • In animal studies, ginger boosted the immune system.
    • Ginger appears to have mild antibacterial properties that may help prevent infection.
  • Ginger dampens production of troublemaking prostaglandin F2 and lightens menstrual flow.
    • During periods, flooding and cramps can occur if you're overproducing a hormone called prostaglandin F2 alpha.
    • Stir 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger into a cup of hot water and drink it daily, suggests Dr. Hudson.
  • Ginger can help asthma patients to breathe more easily[5,6]


Precautions

Ginger is well tolerated.  However, precautions[4] should be taken for:

  • Medications
    • Ginger also acts as a blood thinner, so anyone taking a blood-thinning medication should limit their ginger use.
  • Stomach upset
    • Ginger may possibly cause mild heartburn in some.
  • Pregnancy
    • Pregnant women should not take more than 1 g of dried ginger per day.

References

  1. Halvorsen B, Carlsen M, Phillips K, Bøhn S, Holte K, Jacobs Jr. D, Blomhoff R. Content of redox-active compounds (ie, antioxidants) in foods consumed in the United StatesAm J Clin Nutr. July 2006 84 (1):95-135.
  2. Altman RD, Marcussen KC. Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritisArthritis Rheum. 2001 44(11):2531-2538.
  3. Lee C, Park GH, Kim CY, Jang JH. [6]-Gingerol attenuates β-amyloid-induced oxidative cell death via fortifying cellular antioxidant defense system. Food Chem Toxicol. 2011 Jun;49(6):1261-9. Epub 2011 Mar 9.
  4. National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs
  5. Ginger May Benefit Patients with Asthma (Dr Mercola)
  6. Active Components of Ginger Potentiate β-Agonist-Induced Relaxation of Airway Smooth Muscle by Modulating Cytoskeletal Regulatory Proteins
  7. Classification of Dietary Phytochemicals (Travel and Health)

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