Zingiber officinale (ginger) belongs to Zingiberaceae family a close relative to turmeric. Ginger is consumed worldwide as a spice as well as herbal medicine. Due to its unique flavor and fragrance ginger is also used as a spice and flavoring agent in food. Apart from such use science had found numbers of health beneficial effects of ginger. So let’s find top 10 evidence based health benefits of ginger root along with daily dosage and side effects. Some of you may know but some of you may not. Let’s go through.
Besides its use as food additive ginger root also serves as an excellent source of several bio-active phenolics compounds, such as gingerols, paradols, shogaols, and gingerones. Inflammation and oxidative cell damages are two leading factors in development of chronic diseases. Bio-active compound of ginger exhibit a variety of biological activities including anti-inflammation, and anti-oxidation. Ginger also may act as a promoter of gastro intestinal integrity and bronchodilator.(1,2,3)
10 evidence based health benefits of ginger root, dosage and side effects
Help to relieve from Nausea
Research showed ginger helps to reduce nausea without risk of adverse effect. Symptoms like nausea is common in pregnancy, post surgery as well as in chemotherapy. In a systematic review and meta-analysis on 1278 pregnant women, 1.1-1.5 grams ginger significantly improved the symptoms of nausea. (4) In an another meta analysis ginger had also shown to reduce nausea as well as vomiting in patient after post surgery. (5) Other studies also showed ginger had reduced chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. (6,7) This especially applies to morning sickness.
Can help to improve digestion
Digestive health contributes to overall health. Dyspepsia is a stomach problem with malfunctioning of the digestive system. In study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology ginger stimulated gastric emptying and antral contractions that improves moving of food through gastro intestinal tract in patients with functional dyspepsia. Researcher used 1200 mg ginger in that study. (8) In an another study on 24 healthy people taking 1200 mg of ginger root powder before meal accelerated gastric emptying and stimulates antral contractions. (9) Other studies also showed that ginger had stimulated antral contractions as well as reduced delayed gastric emptying. (10,11,12)
Reduce Muscle pain
Ginger has anti inflammatory as well as analgesic properties. Although it may not have immediate effect research showed that ginger may reduce the day-to-day progression of exercise induced muscle pain. (13)Another systematic review of 7 randomized trials had found while ginger taken over 1-2 weeks may reduce pain from eccentric resistance exercise and prolonged running. Their evidence indicates that roughly 2 g per day of ginger may modestly reduce muscle pain originated from resistance exercise as well as prolonged running. (3)
Can help in reducing Menstrual Pain, bleeding
For many women pain, bleeding are common in menstruation period. Research showed that ginger effectively reduced menstrual pain. (14) A Randomized Controlled Trails had also shown with five day ginger intake significantly reduce intensity as well as duration of pain. Researcher used 500 mg capsule of ginger root powder three times a day in the study with ginger treated group. (15)
In an another, placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized trial, had conducted on 92 high school girls with heavy menstrual bleeding. They were examined for 6 consecutive menstrual cycles. They observed level of menstrual blood loss dramatically declined by 46.6% during the three intervention cycles in ginger-receiving group compared with the 3 pre-intervention assessment cycles. Researchers also reported that minimum number of participants had reported adverse effects.(16)
This appears to affect when taken at the beginning of menstruation.
Help to fight infection
Numbers of studies had also shown ginger has effective antibacterial activity against different types of pathogenic bacteria. (17,18,19) Ginger has not only antibacterial activity but also had shown anti-fungal activity against a wide variety of fungi in vitro or test tube. (20, 21) Therefore with such antibacterial anti inflammation as well as antifungal properties ginger can help to fight against infection.
May improve brain health
We already mentioned above that oxidative stress and chronic inflammation are leading factors in premature aging as well as development of many diseases. In study bio-active compound of ginger appears to inhibit inflammation in brain. (22) Another study also demonstrates that ginger extract enhances both attention and cognitive function in healthy, middle-aged women, with no side effects reported. (23) Other study also reported ginger protects age related mental decline. (24)
Blood sugar regulation
Abnormal blood sugar level can relates with many health hazards including heart disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome and also many others. Ginger appears to normalize blood sugar. In animal study ginger had reduced blood glucose level. Although more data is not available one randomized, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial reported ginger had reduced fasting blood sugar by around 12% in both men and women. And they also observed improvement in t blood sugar control by 10% over a period of 12 weeks. They also concluded that with negligible side effects of ginger, it may be a good remedy for diabetic patients. (25)
Although have limitation of not being double blind a study found significant results. Researcher observed ginger had increased testosterone(by 17.7%) luteinizing hormone(by 43.2%) that controls reproductive system, sperm count (by 16.2%) as well as ejaculate volume(by 36.1%) in men. The study also noted improvement of antioxidant profile with increase of serum glutathione concentration(by 26.7%) (26)
May help to lower cholesterol number
High level of LDL, triglycerides is not a desirable condition especially for cardiovascular health. Ginger administration also had shown to reduce triglyceride, cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL). And thus improves lipid parameters.(27) However these reductions may not to a large extent.
May help to prevent cancer
Some studies also reported ginger may prevent growth of cancer cell in some cases like ovarian cancer, pancreatic, prostate cancer, colon cancer.(28,29,30,31)
Dosages ranged from 250 mg to 2 g/day given in 3 to 4 divided doses.(32,33,34, 35)
Also read about incredible health benefits of mighty turmeric or curcumin as well as therapeutic dosage.
What do we know about risk or safety
One corhot study from 1020 women using ginger during pregnancy concluded use of ginger during pregnancy does not seem to increase the risk of congenital malformations, stillbirth/perinatal death, preterm birth, low birth weight, as well as low health score of new born.(36)
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists ginger as generally recognized as safe.(37) However large dose may carry potential adverse reaction like stomach upset, mouth irritation or other similar. Ginger can also slower blood clotting. Hence people with taking blood clotting medication should consult with health care provider.
However due to high soluble oxalate content of ginger people with tendency of developing kidney stone should avoid ginger. Apart from that individual with unhealthy gut or increased intestinal permeability should avoid food with high oxalates more specifically soluble oxalate. (38)
There is a long use of ginger root worldwide. Although very large data is not available ginger had showed multiple benefits in well designed studies. Ginger root appears as safe when use within recommend dose. However be careful about adulterated product. Ginger root can enhance flavor of food and has different usage. As example you can add with food, can drink with warm water, prepare with tea, and also can take supplement. Being an small plant you can even grow ginger in a pot.
Disclaimer: Information provided here are generalized information for educational purpose only, not intended to provide one to one health consultation or replace practice of a qualified practitioner. Different people may have different health condition and may have different reaction to the same food. Hence it has been advised to consult with health care provider before application of any of above guidelines. 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