Love ginger beer? (Well, the type that contains genuine ginger.) Hate it? Either way, the pungent root that flavours this drink and is used by cooks everywhere is one of nature’s most powerful spices for good health. Let’s talk about ginger and its health benefits … you may even learn to love it!
Ginger Health Benefits
Ginger is good for nausea
Treating nausea is one of the best-known ginger health benefits. Take it when you’re flying or sailing. Morning sickness? Post-operative nausea? Chemo-induced nausea and vomiting? Ginger helps that too.
It helps fight respiratory ailments.
Ginger fights bacterial infections. Drink ginger tea if you have a sore throat, cough or tight chest.
Ginger settles digestive upsets
Any type of stomach problem, from indigestion to bloating, can be eased with ginger. It stimulates saliva and bile production and suppresses gastric contractions and the movement of food and fluids through the GI tract. Take it if you have irritable bowel syndrome or cramps.
It eases migraine and menstrual pain
Ginger has long been known as an effective anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. So if you have menstrual cramps, ditch the ibuprofen and have some ginger tea. NOTE: Take ginger at the start of your menstrual period for maximum effect.
Ginger eases the symptoms of osteoarthritis
In a controlled trial of 247 people with osteoarthritis of the knee, those who took ginger extract had less pain and required less pain relief.
It reduces blood sugar levels
Recent research indicates that ginger may lower sugar levels in the blood, thereby helping to protect people suffering from type 2 diabetes against heart disease.
Ginger is one of your heart’s best friends
One of the lesser-known ginger health benefits is its ability to lower cholesterol. Studies show that ginger’s anti-coagulent properties prevent plaque forming in the blood vessels and help reduce levels of both LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood triglycerides, which contribute to heart disease.
Ginger is good for your brain
Ginger appears to enhance brain function, including the memory, and protects against Alzheimer’s disease and age-related damage in the brain.
It stimulates the circulation and keeps you warm
Drink ginger tea to warm up when it’s cold. It is diaphoretic (it promotes sweating), working to warm the body from within. (And the hot cup helps warm your hands!)
Ginger may prevent cancer
Ginger is a potent anti-oxidant superoxide scavenger, and reseachers have discovered cancer-fighting properties in 6-gingerol, a compound in ginger that could help protect against breast, pancreatic and ovarian cancers. Further studies are needed to confirm the evidence, but fighting cancer could be one of the most important ginger health benefits yet.
How to take ginger
Get the full health benefits of ginger by incorporating the fresh root in your diet as often as you can. Grated, it’s excellent in curries or other eastern dishes, or in a fragrant ginger cake or biscuits. Add a slice of fresh ginger root to hot water for a comforting tea (add a squeeze of lemon juice or honey, if you like the flavour).
Acknowledgements & Photo credits
Article compiled for Flora Force by Judy Beyer.
- Altman, RD and Marcussen, KC. Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis and Rheumatism. 2001, Nov; 44(11):2531-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11710709
- Salim, S. Natural healing: 8 health benefits you didn’t know about ginger. Mariefrance Asia. 2016. http://goo.gl/VtbDga
- Ware, M. Ginger: Health benefits, facts, research. Medical News Today. 2016. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265990.php
- Original photo courtesy of nanadecoco70 / Pixabay.com; with overlay, text and logo 2018.