Ginger is one of the most common ingredients in our food and its popularity spans multiple different countries and regions. Ginger has been used to help add flavor in cooking for hundreds of years and likewise, its use as a health aid and natural remedy also dates back that far.
As with many of the natural remedies of old though, more recent research is now demonstrating that these uses are backed by science. In fact, ginger may have even more uses than we once thought and act as a powerful health agent for fighting aging and cancer, for reducing inflammation, to helping to calm the nerves and help you feel at ease.
The best part is that ginger can be enjoyed in a number of ways – added to food or stirred into tea – and it is easy and affordable to find as well.
Without further ado then, read on and we’ll explore some of the most impressive benefits of ginger.
Ginger is perhaps best known for its ability to fight nausea. Whether you are suffering from travel sickness, morning sickness or vertigo, ginger may be able to help.
In one study looking ag 1,278 pregnant women, ginger was found to be effective in minimizing the effects of nausea with very minimal risk of side effects. Another study found that the same effect could be beneficial for those suffering from chemotherapy.
Other studies suggest that ginger will help to ease and reduce vomiting, but not nausea itself. Whatever the case, this will surely be highly welcome news for a large number of people. And this is also one of the uses that date back furthest – ginger was used to treat stomach pain, aches, nausea, and diarrhea in Asia and elsewhere.
Ginger is not only antibacterial but also antiviral and has the ability to fight off invasions that lead to unwanted symptoms. This makes it very useful in combating infections and means it might work as a natural antibiotic. The best part of natural antibiotics is that they don’t harm the beneficial bacteria that you want in your stomach!
Ginger is often recommended to people with a cold or flu. These conditions are caused by different viruses that penetrate the mucus layer of the nose thereby causing inflammation, pain, and discomfort. It can also do the same thing in the throat and elsewhere. But when you consume ginger, as a tea or in any other format, it can help aid you in the battle against these invaders and thereby encourage more rapidly healing from any related condition. What’s more, is that drinking ginger tea is warming and soothing. And if you are feeling sick and nauseous with your viral infection, then you’ll benefit from that too!
Something that is lesser-known about ginger, is that it can be useful for increasing perspiration! In other words, ginger can make you sweat, and while this might not sound like a nice thing (it may even sound slightly gross!) it can actually be useful for fighting a temperature.
You see, sweating is actually beneficial for helping to reduce the temperature. That’s because the liquid will sit on top of your skin and there it will rob your body of heat energy in order to evaporate. This is the whole reason that sweat is naturally associated with an infection!
There are other reasons that you may want to sweat too – in order to help you to open up your pores and detox your skin for instance. Just be careful around the term ‘detox’. This is a word that is often overused and taken out of context!
Ginger is anti-inflammatory, which means that it can help to reduce swelling. It does this in a number of different ways and can help to reduce the number of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body. These are the molecules our bodies use in order to signal that inflammation should occur.
Of course, inflammation is not a bad thing itself and is actually useful for helping to protect an area and to make it less habitable for bacteria and other types of infection. But when inflammation is too much, it can cause severe pain and even negatively impact mobility – as we see in cases of arthritis. This is why using ginger is so important and beneficial for those with arthritis and is commonly recommended as a natural supplement on top of medication. You can also add other herbs and spices to your routine, like turmeric which is also anti-inflammatory!
At the same time, reducing inflammation can help you to improve cognition and mood. Brain fog and depression have both been linked to inflammation in the brain!
5. Micronutrient Source
One of the less exotic but no less important benefits of ginger is that it can be a useful tool for adding more micronutrients to your diet. That means more vitamins and minerals. Among others, ginger will provide you with extra vitamin C, extra zinc, extra vitamin B6, extra potassium, and more.
All these things serve different important roles in the body. The best known perhaps is vitamin C, which of course can strengthen the immune system, help act as an antioxidant, help to increase the production of the mood-boosting serotonin, and much more.
If you were to consume 100 grams of ginger, you’d get 5mg of vitamin C. That’s about 8% of your DV. Likewise, you’d get about 415mg of potassium. Now, these are very small amounts and especially when you consider that most people will only eat a tiny amount of ginger. But consider too that 100mg of ginger only adds 80 calories and you’re adding much less than that. By adding ginger to tea and to other meals, it will all add up and over time you’ll have added a lot of extra nutrients to your day… all without filling yourself up or adding too many calories!
I’ve already mentioned a few ways in which ginger can help you to combat the effects of a cold. For one, it is good for killing bacteria in the sinuses. At the same time, it is soothing and relaxing when consumed as a warm tea. Then there’s the fact that it is anti-inflammatory and can help to open up the airways when breathing is difficult. It also contains vitamin C, which may help to protect against colds in the first place.
But did you know that ginger will also directly combat the very types of viruses that cause colds? These are called rhinoviruses and the active ingredient that makes ginger so effective at this is the ‘sesquiterpene’. You likely never heard of it, but just know that it directly targets colds and flu – making it even more effective in this battle than other antibacterial herbs and spices like garlic.
7. Fights Fungal Infection
It’s not just colds and flu that ginger is specifically effective at targeting – it can also help to fight yeast infections, jock itch, and athlete’s foot. These are all infections that are caused by fungi rather than viruses or bacteria and they can have a number of nasty symptoms.
Ginger has powerful anti-fungal properties specifically and has been shown in several studies to safely and effectively kill the fungi that lead to these conditions.
For instance, one test-tube study conducted in 2016 found that ginger extract could kill two fungi that are responsible for infections in the mouth. Even more exciting was a study that compared ginger to 28 other plants and found that it was the most effective out of all of them when it came to killing fungus.
8. Combats Stomach Ulcers
Ginger can help to fight stomach infections but will also combat ulcers that form here, generally making them great for your tummy health! Stomach ulcers are sores that will appear on the lining of the stomach and which can lead to indigestion, fatigue, heartburn, stomach pain, and more.
Other studies have shown that ginger can prevent stomach ulcers from forming in the first place! One study looking at animal subjects in 2011 discovered that ginger was able to prevent ulcers that are normally caused by ulcers. It did this by decreasing the levels of the inflammatory proteins in the stomach and by blocking the activity of enzymes that lead to the formation of ulcer development. This is a double whammy and a great win for the herb!
Ginger is packed with antioxidants, which makes it anti-cancer and anti-aging.
You likely already know, but antioxidants are substances in our diets which act against free radicals. Free radicals meanwhile are molecules that are reactive when they come into contact with the cell walls. They cause damage to the walls and eventually this bombardment is enough to cause macroscopic (visible) changes to the quality of our skin!
Eventually, free radicals can penetrate all the way through the cell walls and reach the nuclei of the cells – which is where the DNA is housed. When this happens, the damage to the DNA can cause defects in the cell which prevents it from operating properly. Then, when the cell splits and multiplies via the process of mitosis, it can eventually lead to those imperfections being copied over and over again. This can eventually lead to cancerous tumors and cause entire organs to cease functioning correctly.
Ginger may offer the perfect combination of effects for fighting allergies. That’s because ginger is considered to be a natural antihistamine. This means that it is able to combat the effects of histamine, which is the neurotransmitter/hormone that is produced in the body in response to foreign substances. This is how the body drives out allergens, infections, and toxins and it is what leads to many unwanted symptoms and side effects such as swelling, sneezing, streaming eyes, etc.
When you reduce histamine, you reduce these symptoms. And because allergens are not actually toxic, there is no downside to this. This works just like over-the-counter antihistamines but is less powerful and more natural.
At the same time, we’ve already discussed many ways in which ginger can help to ease symptoms associated with colds and related conditions. So, this can address the symptoms and the root causes of allergies.