Ginger is well-known as a powerful digestive aid, anti-nausea agent, and even an anti-inflammatory (1) – but a new study has revealed that this simple spice may have even more health benefits than initially thought. Specifically, it could help people with type 2 diabetes better manage their disease.
The study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, enrolled 70 patients with type 2 diabetes in a double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial to test the effects of ginger on glycemic status, lipid profile, and inflammatory markers associated with diabetes.
Patients’ blood sugar levels, blood lipids, and inflammatory markers were tested before and after the consumption of either ginger or a placebo, leading researchers to conclude that:
“Ginger improved insulin sensitivity and some fractions of lipid profile, and reduced CRP and PGE2 in type 2 diabetic patients. Therefore ginger can be considered as an effective treatment for prevention of diabetes complications.”(2)
Ginger treatment reduced the following parameters significantly compared with the placebo group:
- Fasting plasma glucose
- HbA1C (aka glycated hemoglobin) – a measurement of how much damage is being caused by sugars to red blood cells in the body, reflective of body wide damage caused by chronically elevated blood sugar
- HOMA (the homeostatic model assessment) – which measures insulin resistance and beta-cell function (the pancreatic cells that produce insulin)
- Total cholesterol
- C-reactive protein (CRP) – a marker of inflammation
- Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) – a marker of inflammation
A Moderate Dose
The dose used in the study was a moderate dose – the kind associated with regular culinary use. Equal to about a quarter of a teaspoon (1.6 grams), the dose was administered in capsule form (800 mg) twice daily. This means that a dietary dose of ginger can be therapeutic in and of itself.
Building On Past Research
Of course, this is not the first study to indicate that ginger has value as a potential treatment for type 2 – and even type 1 – diabetes. One 2006 study examined the efficacy of ginger in managing blood sugar levels in diabetic rats, concluding that “ginger may be of great value in managing the effects of diabetic complications in human subjects.”(3)
More recently, a 2015 article in the Journal of Iranian Pharmaceutical Research explained that according to recent research, “ginger supplementation… may be a good remedy for diabetic patients to diminish the risk of some secondary chronic complications.”(4)
A 2014 study published in the journal Complementary Therapeutic Medicine explains that “daily consumption of 3 one-gram capsules of ginger powder for 8 weeks is useful for patients with type 2 diabetes due to FBS and HbA1c reduction, and improvement of insulin resistance indices such as QUICKI index.”(5)
Supplementing With Ginger
Ginger supplements are available in capsule form at your local pharmacy or health food store, for a relatively accessible price. However, cooking with fresh ginger can give you just as many health benefits as supplementing with powdered ginger.
Fresh ginger is used in stir-fries, barbecues and other marinades and glazes, and even some soups for an extra kick. It’s sharp flavor pairs well with fruity, mild flavors. If you’re unsure where to start when it comes to cooking with ginger, try looking up simple chutney or curry recipes. You can also keep it simple by adding some ginger powder to your smoothies.