Ginger is a popular spice, for good reason – it can add much-needed zing to many recipes, from stir-fry to smoothies. But it’s also known for its long history of medicinal use, dating back thousands of years.
Perhaps the most well-known medicinal effect of ginger is its anti-nausea properties, but it has many other health benefits as well – from being a powerful antioxidant to protecting against specific cancers.
It is widely used in Chinese, Ayuvedic and Tibb-Unani herbal medicines for a wide range of conditions that include arthritis, rheumatism, muscle aches and pains, cramps, indigestion, dementia, fever, and various infectious diseases.
Here are some of the health benefits of ginger that have been scientifically studied and documented.
1. Anti-Cancer Properties
Ginger has been shown to combat the spread of cancer cells in various different types of cancer, including some of the most aggressive types – prostate cancer(1) and pancreatic cancer(2) specifically.
Ginger also has cancer-preventative properties: “The anticancer properties of ginger are attributed to the presence of certain pungent vallinoids… as well as some other constituents like shogaols, zingerone, etc,” one study explains.
“A number of mechanisms that may be involved in the chemopreventive effects of ginger and its components have been reported from the laboratory studies in a wide range of experimental models.”(3)
2. Heart-Protective Effects
“In a placebo-controlled clinical trial patients administered with a single dose of 10g powdered ginger administered to Coronary artery diseased patients produced a significant reduction in platelet aggregation induced by the two agonists, but did not affect the blood lipids and blood sugar,” one article states(4).
There have been many studies done on the safety and efficacy of ginger as a cardioprotective agent; the conclusion drawn from most is that when added to your diet daily, ginger can help prevent cardiovascular disorders.
3. Help With Stomach Ailments
Ginger is a commonly-used home remedy when it comes to treating indigestion, nausea, and vomiting, as well as fever, sore throats, toothache, and cramps.
“Ginger… is of immense value in treating various gastric ailments like constipation, dyspepsia, belching, bloating, gastritis, epigastric discomfort, gastric ulcerations, indigestion, nausea and vomiting and scientific studies have validated ethnomedicinal uses.”(5)
Ginger can also help prevent ulcers which are caused by the use of NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen.
4. Anti-Diabetic Effects
Ginger can improve insulin sensitivity and lipid profile in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to one recent study(6).
5. Effect On Menstrual Pain
One of ginger’s many traditional uses is the treatment of menstrual cramps, but is it really effective? A 2009 study compared ginger to mefenamic acid and ibuprofen on young women presenting with dysmenorrhea, or period cramps. The study found that ginger was just as effective as both over-the-counter painkillers(7).
Safety And Efficacy
Ginger is generally safe to consume, even in large doses. According to drugs.com, though, it can have moderate interactions with many forms of aspirin, so if you are going to take ginger supplements for medicinal reasons and you already take over-the-counter pain medication, consult with a doctor first(8).