Ginger has been revered as a culinary and medicinal spice in many traditional cultures. It is also a very powerful herb with numerous proven health benefits. Read this post to learn more about ginger and how to make the best use of ginger for your health.

Introduction

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Ginger is a spice originated from the rhizomes of the plant Zingiber officinale. It is commonly used in cooking in many Asian, Ayurvedic, and middle eastern cuisines. 

Ginger is a relative of curcumin.

It is most commonly used to treat gastrointestinal issues.

Ginger may also be used as a pain-reliever and may be used as a treatment for degenerative health disorders.

Ginger has shown to display antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Active Ingredients In Ginger

Active compounds in ginger include gingerol, shogaol, paradol, zingerone, zerumbone, 1-dehydro-(10)-gingerdione, terpenoids, and flavonoids (R).

All of these compounds have antioxidant activities, while some of them have anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, antimicrobial, and liver-protecting activities (R).

Proven Health Benefits of Ginger

Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger

1-Dehydro-(10)-gingerdione, an active ingredient in ginger, can regulate inflammatory genes by inhibiting NF-κB pathway (R).

Like NSAIDs (aspirin and Advil), ginger blocks the activities of COX enzymes, as well as production of inflammatory chemicals called leukotrienes and prostaglandins (R, R2, R3).

Ginger inhibits release of pro-inflammatory cytokines from macrophage in cell studies (R).

Ginger reduces serum CRP in human subjects (R).

In addition, ginger has been clinically proven to have many anti-inflammatory benefits, including:

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1) Ginger is an Effective Painkiller

Ginger effectively reduces subjective pain reports (R).

2 grams day of ginger may modestly reduce muscle pain from resistance exercise and prolonged running, particularly if taken for a minimum of 5 days (R).

Ginger is as effective as diclofenac (an NSAID pain medication) for pain management, without leading to digestive discomfort (R).

2) Ginger Helps with Menstrual Cramps

Ginger is more effective in reducing pain severity than placebo. In addition, ginger appears to be as effective as mefenamic acid (an NSAID pain medication) (R, R2).

3) Ginger Helps with Osteoarthritis

Some research shows that ginger improves the effect of osteoarthritis, while other studies show that ginger is only effective during the first treatment so it more research is necessary to determine the true effectivity (R).

4) Ginger Helps with Allergy and Asthma

Ginger is better for people with Th2 dominance.

Zerumbone, an active ingredient in ginger, enhances the Th1 response and helps with Th2 allergic response to egg white protein (albumin) in mice (R).

Ginger helps with asthma by suppressing Th2-mediated immune response in mice (R, R2).

Ginger reduce smooth muscle contraction in the airway by reducing acetylcholine-induced contraction (R).

5) Ginger Helps with Eczema

6-Shogaol, a compound found in ginger, alleviates allergic dermatitis (eczema) in mice via cytokine inhibition by activating the Nrf2 pathway (R).

Eczema is Th2 dominant condition, so it make sense that ginger helps.

Ginger Aids Digestion

6) Ginger Promotes Gut Integrity

Ginger increased prostaglandins in the stomach lining (while NSAIDs decrease) in osteoarthritis patients who develop stomach problems from long term NSAID use (R).

Animal studies confirm that ginger reduces stomach lesions, possibly by inhibiting growth of Helicobacter pylori and through reducing stomach acid secretion (R).

7) Ginger Helps with Nausea and Vomiting

Ginger prevents overactivation of the vagal nerve that triggers nausea and vomiting by inhibiting serotonin function in the digestive tract (R, R2).

Ginger is an effective non-drug relief for morning sickness during early pregnancy (R, R2).

Ginger helps with nausea and vomiting as side effects of medications, including chemotherapy (R, R2).

8) Ginger Can Reduce Stomach Discomfort

Ginger stimulates gut flow (peristalsis). However, the exact effects of ginger vary depending on different species of mammals (R).

Ginger accelerates stomach emptying into the small intestines in healthy people, so it can help in the case of overeating or indigestion (R).

A small randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial shows that ginger can help with digestive symptoms in people who frequently have upset stomach (functional dyspepsia) (R).

Ginger does not affect gallbladder movements (R).

Ginger can regulate bowel transit in rats with irritable bowel syndrome (R).

Ginger Helps with Liver Detoxification

9) Ginger Protects the Liver

Supplementation with ginger, together with alpha-lipoic acid, help slow down age-related structural changes in old rats (R).

Ginger can help protect tuberculosis patients from liver toxicity due to antituberculosis drugs (R).

Ginger protects the kidney and liver against cadmium toxicity in rabbits poisoned with cadmium (R).

Ginger protects against aluminum toxicity in rats (R).

10) Ginger Protects Against Oxidative Stress

Ginger contains many potent antioxidants (R, R2).

6-shogaol activates Nrf2, thus protects against oxidative stress (R).

Ginger is an effective antioxidant as part of an anti-tuberculosis therapy (R).

Ginger Has Anti-Cancer Effects

Several active compounds in ginger are potent against the hallmarks of cancer.

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11) Ginger Can Induce Cancer Cells Death by Apoptosis

Ginger terpenoids can induce apoptosis in endometrial cancer cells through p53 activation (R).

Zerumbone, an ingredient in ginger, can induce apoptosis in pancreatic cancer cells through the p53 signal pathway (R).

12) Ginger Can Sensitize Cancer Cells to Radiation

Zerumbone can sensitize colorectal cancer cells to radiation, making radiation therapy more effective (R).

13) Ginger Can Inhibit Cancer Cell Growth

6-gingerol can inhibit growth of liver (hepatoma) and bone (osteosarcoma) cancer cells (R, R2).

14) Ginger Stops New Blood Vessels that Allows Cancer Cells to Grow

Cancer cells develop the ability to grow new blood vessels called angiogenesis. Ginger inhibits angiogenesis in skin cancer (R).  

Zerumbone inhibits angiogenesis by blocking NF-κB in stomach, pancreatic, ovarian, and colon cancer in cell-based studies (RR2, R3, R4).

Administration of 6-gingerol to mice injected with melanoma cells inhibits pathways necessary for angiogenesis, including VEGF and bFGF (R).

15) Ginger Protects DNA

Ginger essential oil has been found to reduce DNA damage from mold toxin called aflatoxin B1 (R).

Ginger can help protect sperm DNA against oxidative stress, suggesting that it can help improve fertility in men (R).

16) Ginger Inhibits Cancer Cell Migration

6-Gingerol inhibits metastasis (cell migration) of breast cancer cells in a cell study (R).

Ginger Helps with Cardiovascular Risks

17) Ginger Improves Blood Cholesterol/Triglyceride  Profile

Ginger improves blood CRP, blood sugar markers, and cholesterol/triglyceride profiles in human subjects (R).

Ginger can lower blood pressure by modulating the nervous system via stimulation of muscarinic receptors and blockade of calcium channels (R, R2).

18) Ginger May Prevent Hardening of the Arteries

6-Gingerol can protect cells that line the blood vessels from oxidative stress, suggesting that it might help prevent hardening of the arteries (R).

Ginger Helps with Metabolic Health

19) Ginger Improves Blood Sugar Levels

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Ginger reduces fasting blood glucose and HbA1c in humans (R).

20) Ginger Helps with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

12 weeks of supplementation with two grams of ginger daily significantly reduced several liver enzymes, inflammatory cytokines, and insulin resistance index compared to placebo (R).

Ginger essential oil protects the liver against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and related metabolic diseases induced by high-fat diet in obese mice (R).

Treatment with ginger helps reduce fructose-induced fatty liver and high triglyceride levels in rats by acting through the liver’s carbohydrate sensor (R).

21) Ginger Can Mitigate Obesity from a Poor Diet

Ginger can keep mice on a high fat diet from getting obese and improved exercise endurance capacity by activating the PPARδ pathway (R).

Ginger is an Antimicrobial

Ginger is an effective antiviral, anti-microbial and anti-fungal. However, most of the studies are done in cell-based studies. Additional clinical studies may be necessary to confirm the safety and effectiveness of ginger for the treatment of infectious diseases.

22) Fresh Ginger Inhibits Cold Viruses

Fresh, but not dried, ginger can prevent cold viruses from entering human cells in a cell-based study (R, R2).

23) Ginger Kills Bad Bacteria

Unheated ethanol extract (tincture) of ginger has anti-bacterial effects against disease-causing bacteria in a cell study, including (R1, R2, R3):

  • Staphylococcus aureas
  • Staphylococcus pneumoniae
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Pseudomonas aeroginosa
  • Salmonella typhimurum
  • Escherichia coli

Methanol extracts of ginger effectively inhibits the growth of 19 strains of Helicobacter pylori, including drug-resistant strains, in a cell study (R).

24) Ginger is an Effective Antifungal

Ginger is an effective antifungal at concentrations below 1 mg/ml (R).

Ginger tincture inhibits growth of Candida albicans (R).

Ginger Supplements

Use and Dosage of Ginger

1 capsule (1.2 g) of ginger is generally effective as a digestive aid.

2 g/day is a well-researched dose for anti-inflammatory effect.

Ginger tea or water extract of ginger can help with cold and digestive symptoms.

Ginger juice (fresh squeezed) is the only effective form of ginger to ward off cold viruses before symptoms worsen (R).

At a high dose, ginger may cause acid reflux and stomach upset. While ginger is generally safe up to 10 grams, the risk of adverse effects is individual.

Ginger Risks, Side Effects

  • Ginger seems to have little, or no side-effects but may aggravate acid reflux in some individuals (R).
  • Ginger may affect blood clots, so it should not be taken at the same time as blood thinner medications (R).
  • The effects of long-term supplementation of ginger remain to be determined.
  • Ginger contains actives that suppress human cytochrome P450 activity, so it may interact with drugs that are metabolized by cytochrome P450 enzymes (R).

Ginger Technical

  • Ginger lowers blood pressure by blocking voltage-dependent calcium channels (R).
  • Ginger helps with allergies and inflammation, and protects against oxidative stress by activating the Nrf2 pathway (R, R2, R3).
  • Ginger suppresses Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway (R).
  • Ginger inhibits NF-κB signaling (R, R2).
  • 6-Shogaol inhibits growth and apoptosis, and induces autophagy of non-small cell lung cancer by directly regulating Akt1/2 and mTOR pathways (R, R2).
  • Ethanol extract of ginger activates AMPK and inhibits mTOR in pancreatic cancer cells, and stimulates autophagy (R).
  • Ginger activates the PPARδ pathway (R).

This post has been cowritten and reviewed by a PhD in Genetics.

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

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10 COMMENTS

  • Michael Dale

    Great article on the super plant Zingiber Officinale, Ginger.
    We have created a product Migraine Escape that captured the entire chemical composition of ginger and it is applied topically to the forehead for relieving the discomfort associated with migraines. You have all of ginger’s amazing properties working for you in a synergistic manner, in a completely natural safe product that has demonstrated remarkable results.
    Mother Nature with a little help of modern science outsmarting artificial analgesic solutions.

  • Sean

    Ginger also inhibits mast cells from releasing histamine and pro-inflamitory cytokines. Iow it’s a mast cell stabilizer. Extract with acetone and mix into emu oil. Great for pain and swelling and makes a killer message oil 😉

    1. Sean

      Forgot to mention it’s warming. Also great if you have a cut or something infected (but not bleeding still.)

    2. Nattha Wannissorn

      Sounds interesting, but not the acetone extract for taking internally, though? Is there a product you really like?

      1. Peter Dean

        Use a menstrum of 90% ethanol, 10% water to extract the useful constituents from ginger (dried) or 100% ethanol for fresh ginger. This can be evaporated and added to a cream or added to glycerol if ethanol ingestion is undesirable. Extraction duration needs to be 2 or more weeks with periodic shaking. Ensure total immersion of the sliced ginger in the menstrum.

        1. Nattha Wannissorn

          thanks.

      2. Sean

        Lol no, I meant for topicals mixed with oil. Acetone is produced synthetically and is pretty clean. I like that it extracts the oils and waxes wich gives it a nice skin feel when in emu oil. As Peter mentioned ethanol works well but it’s expensive. Don’t extract directly with Glycerol, it makes a sticky mess. Ethanol and especially glycine makes it BURN! X( and it won’t soak into ur skin very well… But well enough u can’t rinse it off lol. They are great for internal use though.

      3. Sean

        I just buy bulk Ginger powder on Amazon. And I prefer “ultra clear” emu oils

  • Jan

    Under Dosage, how much fresh ginger root is safe to eat per day?

  • Peter Dean

    Ginger is routinely used to increase HCl secretions to improve digestion. The reduction in gastric ph will serve to control helicobacter pylori and candida albicans

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