The Health Benefits of Ginger

Ginger is known for its fresh, sharp, and slightly sweet flavor profile. It's also a common spice in eastern cuisine, and if you've ever enjoyed a meal of sushi, you've likely tried some of the pungent spice in a semi natural form (gari, aka "sushi ginger" is thinly sliced young ginger that is marinated in sugar and vinegar).

But beyond its culinary usefulness, it's a powerful healer. In fact, ginger has been used a natural remedy for centuries, first being revered some 5000 years ago by both Indian and Chinese health practitioners. Modernly, we're finding more and more evidence than ginger can help treat a number of ailments, from the feeling of sickness to combating factors that can contribute to heart disease:

1. Nausea

One of the most widely experienced benefits of ginger is it's ability to combat nausea of several forms. Nausea is the sensation of queasiness or feeling of sickness, usually characterized by one's feeling of vomiting, much like the feeling of being 'sea sick.' Ginger is able to combat this, and reduce the feeling of nausea.

For example, in one double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 79 Swedish naval cadets, 1 gram ginger was found to decrease cold sweat and likelihood of vomiting, significantly treating the cadets motion sickness. In another study focusing on nausea in pregnant women, ginger was shown to significantly reduce reports of nausea and vomiting; similar studies have also shown ginger was able to treat the feeling of morning sickness in women as well.

Ginger has also helped combat nausea in patients out of surgery, as well as for patients undergoing chemotherapy with the drug cisplatin.

2. Arthritis

Ginger is also a powerful anti inflammatory, which is at the root of arthritis.  For example, in a study of 261 people with OA of the knee, "those who took a ginger extract twice daily had less pain and needed fewer pain-killing medications than those who received placebo."

While there have been additional studies that have linked ginger to relieving musculoskeletal pain, including a small, albeit uncontrolled, study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, OA, and/or muscular pain who used powdered ginger for up to 3 years, resulting in 75% of the arthritis patients reporting improvement in pain and swelling without side effects, there is more research needed to be done before one should completely rely on ginger for arthritis related pains.

3. Migraines

Migraines can be one of the most debilitating pains to suffer, and they can seem to come on almost instantly. Ginger may provide a solution.

In a randomized trail, using 60 patients who reported suffering a mild headache prior to a full blown migraine, a combination of feverfew and ginger was found to significantly reduce or completely eliminate pain for at least 2 hours. Similarly, in another study of 100 adults, ginger taken on the outset of a migraine was found to reduce migraines by 90% in severity within 2 hours, the same as sumatriptan, a migraine medication.

4. Lower Cholesterol and Blood Clotting

Although preliminary in its research, some practitioners are finding causal links between ginger and the lowering of cholesterol and instance of blood clotting. This is especially interesting for those with heart disease, where blood vessel can become blocks and lead to heart attack or stroke.

Health Benefits of Ginger are Real

In addition to the above, ginger has also been demonstrated to provide a powerful complementary medicine to sufferers of asthma, ovarian cancer, hypertension, and even liver damage caused by acetaminophen. And while there is always room for more research, it's widely accepted that ginger is a unique, natural solution that can provide real relief. Of course, it's recommended that you always consult your medical practitioner before making major changes in your diet, or changing medications!