The Key Health Benefits Of Ginger
Ginger must be one of the tastiest herbs around I reckon. Which is great, because it’s not just tasty - the list of health benefits of ginger is impressive!
So while this herb is busy adding plenty of flavour to your diet, it’s also providing a solid health kick.
The botanical name of ginger is a good one: Zingiber officinale. It seems apt that this zingy herb has a zingy name! It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family which includes Curcurma longa (tumeric) and cardamom.
In Athletic Greens we include Ginger Rhizome Powder. Rhizome means root, which is the part of the ginger plant used both medicinally and in cooking.
The plant is a tropical creeping perennial. It has thick bulbous stems underground, which is where you’ll find the root that we enjoy.
Above ground it can grow up to one metre and has large spear-like leaves and bright red or yellow flowers.
The health benefits of ginger have been known for thousands of years…
Ginger is native to southeastern Asia, India and China, and the health benefits of ginger rhizome have been known and revered in these regions for thousands of years. The Romans even caught on and started importing ginger from China.
Ginger is an herb of many applications and benefits. In fact, it’s one of the most commonly used culinary spices in the world - and is as therapeutic as it is delicious.
You might have heard of ginger settling the stomach? It’s true, a popular use is to chew on fresh ginger or take ginger capsules to help with sea sickness and morning sickness.
It’s also a common ingredient in hot drinks when you’re coming down with a cold. I know I love a hot lemon, honey and ginger drink when I’m feeling run down! It’s universally popular as an immune tonic and fresh ginger tea is often given to people feeling under the weather.
People with sore throats are often encouraged to chew on ginger and gargle water to create a “burning” feeling in the hope of killing bugs in the throat.
And in many European countries, especially the Netherlands, ginger tea made from freshly cut ginger is a common thing to drink after a meal instead of coffee, tea or alcohol.
So: for thousands of years this warming, stimulating herb has been prescribed for headaches, circulatory problems, colds, flus and nausea. And in great news for us, ginger has enjoyed a lot of modern scientific attention, which validates these traditional uses.
Let’s take a closer look at the science.
Therapeutic Health Benefits Of Ginger
This well studied herb is known to contain many bioactive compounds such as 6-gingerol, Methoxy-10-gingerol and hexahydrocurcumin.
Other recognisable compounds include quercetin, catechin and epicatechin (as found in green tea), rutin and curcurmin (ginger contains a small amount of this yellow pigment made famous by turmeric).
So what do all these things do?
Here are some of the key therapeutic actions of ginger:
✔ Improved digestion: Ginger may help food move faster through the gut.
✔ Decreased flatulence and gas: Known as a ‘carminative’, ginger has traditionally been used to dispel intestinal gas.
✔ For morning sickness: Studies show that ginger is more effective than B6 in treating morning sickness.
✔ Cognitive enhancement
✔ Symptoms of osteoarthritis
✔ Reduced risk of colon cancer
✔ Reduced menstrual pain: Ginger was found to be as effective as ibuprofen in treating dysmenorrhea.
✔ Positive effects on cholesterol levels: Ginger appears to reduce LDL and increase HDL cholesterol levels.
✔ Infertility assistance: Ginger appears to increase testosterone, sperm motility, FSH and sperm count in men.
Interesting aside: Even just the smell of ginger may offer therapeutic benefits. One study compared massage (for pain relief) with and without ginger present - the former helped the lucky recipients feel less pain!
Possible therapeutic actions of ginger (these ones are waiting on further scientific support):
→ Reduced muscle soreness
→ Decreased triglycerides
→ Reduced symptoms of vertigo
→ Enhanced thermic effect of food
→ Improved mood (many compounds in ginger seem to have an affinity for serotonin receptors)
That’s an impressive list, right? So is it safe for everyone?
Dosage and safety
Although the known health benefits of ginger have made it a popular remedy in the eastern world for a long time, most westerners do not consume much ginger.
Apart from ginger tea and moscow mule cocktails perhaps!
The great thing about this tasty herb is its benefits can be enjoyed by pretty much everyone in high doses without much risk, including pregnant women.
When ginger is being taken for specific causes, certain amounts are sometimes recommended. For example for cases of nausea, dosages of 1 - 3 grams are typically used.
This applies to morning sickness, motion sickness, and chemotherapy or operation-induced nausea.
As with any herb - people taking other medications should always check with their doctor first. For example, those taking antidepressant medications should be cautious, as ginger may interact with prescribed 5-HTP, due to effects on serotonin.
It also shouldn’t be taken concurrently with anticoagulant medications such as Warfarin or Aspirin due to its blood-thinning effects.
Enjoying The Health Benefits Of Ginger Every Day
With such an impressive resume of health benefits, ginger is an obvious ingredient choice for Athletic Greens.
It’s not just a stand-alone star though, it works well with prebiotics, probiotics and the slippery elm bark contained in our greens mix due to its digestive benefits.
The health benefits of ginger are further amplified by the digestive enzymes contained in Athletic Greens (Papain from Papaya and Bromelain from Pineapple).
It can also work well with the Rosehip extract to provide an anti-inflammatory effect, and the policosanol and beta glucans to help lower cholesterol.
So that’s ginger: a herb with a long history of traditional use and an exciting body of modern research to support its therapeutic efficacy.
The health benefits of ginger are known and effective for digestive complaints - especially nausea, for pain relief - especially in osteoarthritis, and for cardiovascular support - especially circulation and healthy cholesterol levels.Not to mention that it’s delicious and helps our greens mix taste all the better!