Ginger is the commonly used name for the rhizome of the Zingiber officinale. This herbal root has a vast and well documented history of having cultural, economical and medicinal value. It has been honorably referred to as a luxury for 5,000 years by the ancient cultures of Greece, India, and China. Cultivated in Southeast Asia, the extensive exporting of ginger gave rise to it being appreciated by many different cultures. Being a trade spice, ginger was associated with extensive wealth and power. At one point, only a pound of ginger was equal in value to a sheep. The majority of ginger is currently grown in India and China.
While ginger is still used as a culinary spice, western culture is beginning to rediscover why ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic Indian systems of thought referred to ginger as a healing gift from God, and by the writings in the Koran as the holiest of heavenly spirits. The ancient knowledge of ginger’s unparalleled healing abilities is beginning to surface in scientific research and medical journals.
In 2013, the International Journal of Preventive Medicine published a paper that aimed to study the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects of ginger. Their conclusion was that “the health-promoting perspectives of ginger are well known. It can treat a wide range of diseases via immunonutrition and anti-inflammatory responses. The anticancer potential of ginger is well documented and its functional ingredients like gingerols, shogaol, and paradols are the valuable ingredients which can prevent various cancers” (1).
It is for good reason that half of our juices have ginger in them, not only does it add great flavor, but it also delivers powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that can be utilized on a daily basis. The following is a list of just some of the scientific studies that have been conducted to give a scientific basis for the medicinal qualities of ginger that were culturally revered centuries ago:
Nausea & Vomiting
The most well-known use of ginger is for nausea and vomiting. Whether the nausea and vomiting stemmed from cancer(1), chemotherapy(2), seasickness(3), or pregnancy(4), ginger proved to be very effective at relieving symptoms.
Ginger and derived compounds have been shown to help fight various types of cancer cells, including cancers notorious for being aggressive and difficult to treat: breast(5), colon(6), lung(7), ovarian(8), pancreatic(9), prostate(10).
Research has shows that ginger may both prevent and treat diabetes, while also lowering blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood fats(11,12).
Ginger extract was shown to be effective for reducing knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis(13).
In gout as a rheumatic disease of joints, -shogaol, a compound of ginger, has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and may be used as a curative agent(14).
In regards to muscle pain, the daily consumption of raw or heat-treated ginger resulted in moderate-to-large reductions in muscle pain(15).
Ginger has been shown to have some powerful antibacterial properties against Staphylococcus aureus and S. pyreus.(16,17).
Ginger extract reduced levels of NF-κB, which is linked to a variety of inflammatory diseases, including cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, diabetes, allergy, asthma, arthritis, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, osteoporosis, psoriasis, septic shock, and AIDS(18,19,20).
One study showed that ginger can help prevent taste distortion and vomiting that can accompany radiation poisoning. Another study showed that ginger can protect against symptoms and mortality from exposure to gamma radiation(21,22).
Zingiber officinale (ginger) had pronounced antifungal activity against a wide variety of fungi, including strains that were highly resistant to amphotericin B and ketoconazole. Further exploration of [ginger] as an antifungal is warranted as this species is generally regarded as safe for human consumption(23).
One study concluded that “ginger was as effective as mefenamic acid and ibuprofen in relieving pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain)”(24).
For a more in depth look at ginger:
The Amazing and Mighty Ginger
Disclaimer: this is not a prescription, nor is this qualified healthcare information. Please consult your physician for any matters regarding medical care.