11 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger

Ginger is a flowering plant that originated in Southeast Asia. It’s among the healthiest (and most delicious) spices on the planet.

It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, and it’s closely related to turmeric, cardamom, and galangal.

The rhizome (underground part of the stem) is the part commonly used as a spice. It’s often called ginger root or, simply, ginger.

Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice. It’s a very common ingredient in recipes. It’s sometimes added to processed foods and cosmetics.

Here are 11 health benefits of ginger that are supported by scientific research.

1. Contains gingerol, which has powerful medicinal properties

Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional and alternative medicine. It’s been used to aid digestion, reduce nausea, and help fight the flu and common cold, to name a few of its purposes.

The unique fragrance and flavor of ginger come from its natural oils, the most important of which is gingerol.

Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger. It’s responsible for much of ginger’s medicinal properties.

Gingerol has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, according to research. For instance, it may help reduce oxidative stress, which is the result of having an excess amount of free radicals in the body (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).

SUMMARYGinger is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

2. Can treat many forms of nausea, especially morning sickness

Ginger appears to be highly effective against nausea (3Trusted Source).

It may help relieve nausea and vomiting for people undergoing certain types of surgery. Ginger may also help chemotherapy-related nausea, but larger human studies are needed (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7).

However, it may be the most effective when it comes to pregnancy-related nausea, such as morning sickness.

According to a review of 12 studies that included a total of 1,278 pregnant women, 1.1–1.5 grams of ginger can significantly reduce symptoms of nausea.

However, this review concluded that ginger had no effect on vomiting episodes (8Trusted Source).

Although ginger is considered safe, talk to your doctor before taking large amounts if you’re pregnant.

It’s recommended that pregnant women who are close to labor or who’ve had miscarriages avoid ginger (9Trusted Source).

SUMMARYJust 1–1.5 grams of ginger can help prevent various types of nausea, including chemotherapy-related nausea, nausea after surgery, and morning sickness.

3. May help with weight loss

Ginger may play a role in weight loss, according to studies conducted in humans and animals.

A 2019 literature review concluded that ginger supplementation significantly reduced body weight, the waist-hip ratio, and the hip ratio in people with overweight or obesity (10Trusted Source).

A 2016 study of 80 women with obesity found that ginger could also help reduce body mass index (BMI) and blood insulin levels. High blood insulin levels are associated with obesity.

Study participants received relatively high daily doses — 2 grams — of ginger powder for 12 weeks (11, 12).

A 2019 literature review of functional foods also concluded that ginger had a very positive effect on obesity and weight loss. However, additional studies are needed (13).

The evidence in favor of ginger’s role in helping prevent obesity is stronger in animal studies. Rats and mice who consumed ginger water or ginger extract consistently saw decreases in their body weight, even in instances where they’d also been fed high-fat diets (14Trusted Source, 15, 16).

Ginger’s ability to influence weight loss may be related to certain mechanisms, such as its potential to help increase the number of calories burned or reduce inflammation (13, 16).

SUMMARYAccording to studies in animals and humans, ginger may help improve weight-related measurements. These include body weight and the waist-hip ratio.

4. Can help with osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common health problem.

It involves degeneration of the joints in the body, leading to symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness.

One literature review found that people who used ginger to treat their OA saw significant reductions in pain and disability (17).

Only mild side effects, such as a dissatisfaction with the taste of ginger, were observed. However, the taste of ginger, along with stomach upset, still prompted nearly 22% of the study participants to drop out.

Study participants received between 500 milligrams (mg) and 1 gram of ginger each day for anywhere from 3 to 12 weeks. A majority of them had been diagnosed with OA of the knee (17).

Another study from 2011 found that a combination of topical ginger, mastic, cinnamon, and sesame oil can help reduce pain and stiffness in people with OA of the knee (18Trusted Source).

SUMMARYThere are some studies showing ginger to be effective at reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis, especially osteoarthritis of the knee.

5. May drastically lower blood sugars and improve heart disease risk factors

This area of research is relatively new, but ginger may have powerful anti-diabetic properties.

In a 2015 study of 41 participants with type 2 diabetes, 2 grams of ginger powder per day lowered fasting blood sugar by 12% (19Trusted Source).

It also dramatically improved hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a marker for long-term blood sugar levels. HbA1c was reduced by 10% over a period of 12 weeks.

There was also a 28% reduction in the Apolipoprotein B/ApolipoproteinA-I ratio and a 23% reduction in malondialdehyde (MDA), which is a byproduct of oxidative stress. A high ApoB/ApoA-I ratio and high MDA levels are both major risk factors for heart disease (19Trusted Source).

However, keep in mind that this was just one small study. The results are incredibly impressive, but they need to be confirmed in larger studies before any recommendations can be made.

In somewhat encouraging news, a 2019 literature review also concluded that ginger significantly reduced HbA1c in people with type 2 diabetes. However, it also found that ginger had no effect on fasting blood sugar (20).

SUMMARYGinger has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve various heart disease risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes.

6. Can help treat chronic indigestion

Chronic indigestion is characterized by recurrent pain and discomfort in the upper part of the stomach.

It’s believed that delayed emptying of the stomach is a major driver of indigestion. Interestingly, ginger has been shown to speed up emptying of the stomach (21Trusted Source).

People with functional dyspepsia, which is indigestion with no known cause, were given either ginger capsules or a placebo in a small 2011 study. One hour later, they were all given soup.

It took 12.3 minutes for the stomach to empty in people who received ginger. It took 16.1 minutes in those who received the placebo (22Trusted Source).

These effects have also been seen in people without indigestion. In a 2008 study by some members of the same research team, 24 healthy individuals were given ginger capsules or a placebo. They were all given soup an hour later.

Consuming ginger as opposed to a placebo significantly accelerated emptying of the stomach. It took 13.1 minutes for people who received ginger and 26.7 minutes for people who received the placebo (23Trusted Source).

SUMMARYGinger appears to speed up emptying of the stomach, which can be beneficial for people with indigestion and related stomach discomfort.

7. May significantly reduce menstrual pain

Dysmenorrhea refers to pain felt during the menstrual cycle.

One of the traditional uses of ginger is for pain relief, including menstrual pain.

In a 2009 study, 150 women were instructed to take either ginger or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for the first 3 days of the menstrual period.

The three groups received four daily doses of either ginger powder (250 mg), mefenamic acid (250 mg), or ibuprofen (400 mg). Ginger managed to reduce pain as effectively as the two NSAIDs (24Trusted Source).

More recent studies have also concluded that ginger is more effective than a placebo and equally as effective as drugs such as mefenamic acid and acetaminophen/caffeine/ibuprofen (Novafen) (252627Trusted Source).

While these findings are promising, higher-quality studies with larger numbers of study participants are still needed (27Trusted Source).

SUMMARYGinger appears to be very effective against menstrual pain when taken at the beginning of the menstrual period.

8. May help lower cholesterol levels

High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol are linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

The foods you eat can have a strong influence on LDL levels.

In a 2018 study of 60 people with hyperlipidemia, the 30 people who received 5 grams of ginger-pasted powder each day saw their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels drop by 17.4% over a 3-month period (28).

While the drop in LDL is impressive, it’s important to consider that study participants received very high doses of ginger.

Many cited a bad taste in the mouth as their reason for dropping out of an OA study where they received doses of 500 mg–1 gram of ginger (17).

The doses taken during the hyperlipidemia study are 5–10 times higher. It’s likely that most people may have difficulty taking a 5-gram dose for long enough to see results (28).

In an older study from 2008, people who received 3 grams of ginger powder (in capsule form) each day also saw significant reductions in most cholesterol markers. Their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels dropped by 10% over 45 days (29).

These findings are supported by a study in rats with hypothyroidism or diabetes. Ginger extract lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol to a similar extent as the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin (30Trusted Source).

Study subjects from all 3 studies also experienced drops in total cholesterol. Participants in the 2008 study, as well as the lab rats, also saw reductions in their blood triglycerides (28, 29, 30Trusted Source).

SUMMARYThere’s some evidence, in both humans and animals, that ginger can lead to significant reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol, total cholesterol, and blood triglyceride levels.

9. Contains a substance that may help prevent cancer

Ginger has been studied as an alternative remedy for several forms of cancer.

The anti-cancer properties are attributed to gingerol, which is found in large amounts in raw ginger. A form known as [6]-gingerol is viewed as especially powerful (31Trusted Source, 32).

In a 28-day study of individuals at normal risk for colorectal cancer, 2 grams of ginger extract per day significantly reduced pro-inflammatory signaling molecules in the colon (33).

However, a follow-up study in individuals at a high risk for colorectal cancer didn’t produce the same results (34Trusted Source).

There’s some evidence, albeit limited, that ginger may be effective against other gastrointestinal cancers such as pancreatic cancer and liver cancer (35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source).

It may be effective against breast cancer and ovarian cancer as well. In general, more research is needed (37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).

SUMMARYGinger contains the substance gingerol, which appears to have protective effects against cancer. However, more studies are needed.

10. May improve brain function and protect against Alzheimer’s disease

Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can accelerate the aging process.

They’re believed to be among the key drivers of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.

Some animal studies suggest that the antioxidants and bioactive compounds in ginger can inhibit inflammatory responses that occur in the brain (39Trusted Source).

There’s also some evidence that ginger can help enhance brain function directly. In a 2012 study of healthy middle-aged women, daily doses of ginger extract were shown to improve reaction time and working memory (40Trusted Source).

In addition, numerous studies in animals show that ginger can help protect against age-related decline in brain function (41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source, 43Trusted Source).

SUMMARYAnimal studies suggest that ginger can protect against age-related damage to the brain. It can also help improve brain function in middle-aged women.

11. Can help fight infections

Gingerol can help lower the risk of infections.

In fact, ginger extract can inhibit the growth of many different types of bacteria (44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source).

According to a 2008 study, it’s very effective against the oral bacteria linked to gingivitis and periodontitis. These are both inflammatory gum diseases (46Trusted Source).

Fresh ginger may also be effective against the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common cause of respiratory infections (47Trusted Source).

SUMMARYGinger may fight harmful bacteria and viruses, which could reduce your risk for infections.

The bottom line

Ginger is loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have powerful benefits for your body and brain.

It’s one of the very few superfoods actually worthy of that term.

Anti-inflammatory herbs with the power to relieve inflammation and pain caused by inflammation.

Arnica

Devil’s Claw

Foods to Avoid with Fibromyalgia

A sensitivity to pain is a well-known common symptom of fibromyalgia. Many symptoms can be made worse with a poor diet. Following an anti-inflammatory diet and being aware of food sensitivities can help people with fibromyalgia get the most out of their food while avoiding symptom flare-ups.

Foods Likely to Make Fibromyalgia Symptoms Worse:

According to Arthritis-Health.com, the following foods may make symptoms worse by increasing inflammation.

Processed foods. Sugar and unhealthy fats, which increase inflammation, are a large part of many processed foods. Flavorings and preservatives commonly used in processed foods also may trigger food sensitivities.

Unhealthy fats. Vegetable oils, such as corn oil, safflower oil, and peanut oil, have an inflammatory effect, especially when used to fry food. The medical literature has linked fried foods to worsening of fibromyalgia symptoms. Unhealthy oils are a common ingredient in many processed foods, such as cookies, doughnuts, and crackers. Pizza and cheese are also major sources of unhealthy fats.

Alcohol. While some research has found moderate alcohol use can ease symptoms,4 some people with fibromyalgia report alcohol causes symptoms to flare. Drinking alcohol while taking certain medications prescribed for fibromyalgia—such as anti-convulsants, antidepressants, and acetaminophen (an ingredient in many medications) could cause harmful interactions.

Sugar. Reducing or eliminating sugar can have a significant impact on health for two reasons. First, the medical literature has shown that eating foods high in sugar is linked to increased fibromyalgia pain.1Second, limiting sugar helps control weight. Being overweight puts extra stress on the body, contributing to fatigue, and stored fat may lead to inflammation in some cases. Sugar is a well-known ingredient in candy and soft drinks, but is also in foods considered to be healthy—such as yogurt. When checking nutrition labels, it is helpful to know that glucose, fructose, and sucrose are other names for sugar.

Carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates such as cookies, many breads, pastries, and white rice are digested quickly, causing blood sugar levels to spike. The effect does not last, however, and blood sugar soon drops, making the individual hungry again. These fluctuations can make the fatigue and pain of fibromyalgia worse and contribute to overeating.2When eating carbohydrates, whole wheat sources should be chosen. Whole wheat foods digest more slowly, avoiding the highs and lows that occur with other carbohydrates.

One small research study focused on women diagnosed with fibromyalgia who also had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and a food intolerance. (Many people with fibromyalgia also have irritable bowel syndrome.)When the women cut back on eating a specific group of carbohydrates, they reported a 50% reduction in irritable bowel symptoms and a 22% decrease in other symptoms, including pain. The restricted carbohydrates were a type not well absorbed in the small intestine. Such carbohydrates include lactose (an ingredient in milk and other dairy foods), fructose (in some fruits and vegetables, honey, and other sweeteners), and grains.

At our Pain Management Clinic in Chandler, AZ, APEX can offer several procedures to help treat the pain symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Trigger Point Injections are most commonly used for those who experience muscle pain. We may also recommend physical therapy and or other procedures depending on your unique profile of symptoms.

 

Tumeric for Arthritis

Curcuma longa, Cur­cuma domestica

Origin: A yellow-colored powder ground from the root of the turmeric plant. The turmeric plant grows in India and Indonesia and is related to the ginger family (it is a common ingredient in curries). Curcumin is a key chemical in turmeric.

Claims: Reduces pain, inflammation and stiffness related to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA); treats bursitis. Known as a cleansing agent, turmeric often is used as a digestive aid in India.

What we know: Traditionally used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine to treat arthritis turmeric/curcumin blocks inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, including cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), the target of celecoxib (Celebrex).

Studies: Several recent studies show that turmeric/curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties and modifies immune system responses. A 2006 study showed turmeric was more effective at preventing joint inflammation than reducing joint inflammation.

A 2010 clinical trial found that a turmeric supplement called Meriva (standardized to 75 percent curcumin combined with phosphatidylcholine) provided long-term improvement in pain and function in 100 patients with knee OA.

In a small 2012 pilot study, a curcumin product called BCM-95 reduced joint pain and swelling in patients with active RA better than diclofenac, an nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

Dosage: Capsules, extract (more likely to be free of contaminants) or spice. For OA: Capsule, typically 400 mg to 600 mg, three times per day; or 0.5 g to 1 g of powdered root up to 3 g per day. For RA: 500 mg twice daily.

“Curcumin makes up only about 2 to 6 percent of turmeric, so be sure to check the standardized amount of curcumin,” advises Randy Horowitz, MD, medical director of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine in Tucson.

Source: Arthritis.org

Top foods that fight inflammation

One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the grocery store. “Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory benefits,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Choose the right anti-inflammatory foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process.

Foods that cause inflammation

Try to avoid or limit these foods as much as possible:

  • refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
  • French fries and other fried foods
  • soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
  • red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
  • margarine, shortening, and lard

The health risks of inflammatory foods

Not surprisingly, the same foods on an inflammation diet are generally considered bad for our health, including sodas and refined carbohydrates, as well as red meat and processed meats. Inflammation can cause pain or make chronic pain worse which is why it is important to maintain a healthy diet while participating in a pain management program.

Unhealthy foods also contribute to weight gain, which is itself a risk factor for inflammation. Yet in several studies, even after researchers took obesity into account, the link between foods and inflammation remained, which suggests weight gain isn’t the sole driver. “Some of the food components or ingredients may have independent effects on inflammation over and above increased caloric intake,” Dr. Hu says.

Anti-inflammatory foods

An anti-inflammatory diet should include these foods:

  • tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
  • nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
  • fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges

Benefits of anti-inflammatory foods

On the flip side are beverages and foods that reduce inflammation, and with it, chronic disease, says Dr. Hu. He notes in particular fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, apples, and leafy greens that are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols—protective compounds found in plants.

Studies have also associated nuts with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Coffee, which contains polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds, may protect against inflammation, as well.

Anti-inflammatory diet

To reduce levels of inflammation, aim for an overall healthy diet. If you’re looking for an eating plan that closely follows the tenets of anti-inflammatory eating, consider the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils.

In addition to lowering inflammation, a more natural, less processed diet can have noticeable effects on your physical and emotional health. “A healthy diet is beneficial not only for reducing the risk of chronic diseases, but also for improving mood and overall quality of life,” Dr. Hu says.