Ginger health benefits for men and women
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13 factual health benefits of ginger

Have you heard about the multitude of health benefits of ginger? Used around the world in cuisines for its strong flavor and in traditional medicine for it’s healing properties.

Food as medicine! Ginger is a superfood that can heal and help improve your health. Thanks to its antioxidants, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and many therapeutic compounds like gingerol and shogaol. From easing nausea, to treating fungal infections and stopping cancer growth, to protecting brain function. It’s easy to add ginger to your daily diet using it fresh, as a spice, or in capsules.

If you haven’t made ginger a staple in your pantry yet, you will want to read on to understand how valuable ginger can be for your immune system and particular health issues.

What is ginger root?

Zingiber officinale, or simply ginger for friends, is a flowering plant similar to turmeric and cardamom. It’s rhizome, or underground part, is typically referred to as the ginger root and is popular for its medicinal properties.

Ginger has been an important ingredient of traditional medicine for centuries. The use of ginger’s healing benefits can be found in ancient Chinese, Roman, Greek and Sanskrit writings. Abundant research around ginger and its properties has confirmed what traditional health practitioners already knew: ginger is a superfood.

Whether you choose to incorporate ginger in your diet fresh, ground, as an essential oil, or in the form of capsules, you can easily add this powerful ingredient into your healthy habits. It’s easy to use as a spice, added to dishes or prepared as ginger tea.

13 health benefits of ginger

1. Ginger reduces inflammation

One of the reasons ginger has such broad health benefits is it’s high concentration in gingerol.

Gingerol is a strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It has been shown to reduce oxidative stress, caused by the excess of free radicals in humans.

Gingerol is the principal bioactive component in ginger and is the source of much of its health properties. We can actually smell it. A natural oil, gingerol is what gives its zesty scent to ginger.[1]Wang S, Zhang C, Yang G, Yang Y. Biological properties of 6-gingerol: a brief review. Nat Prod Commun. 2014;9(7):1027-1030.

When dried, gingerol actually turns into shogaol, another biomarker which exhibits similarly valuable health properties.

Both gingerol and shogaol exhibit a range of benefits extending from anticancer, anti-oxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic to central nervous system protection.[2]Semwal RB, Semwal DK, Combrinck S, Viljoen AM. Gingerols and shogaols: Important nutraceutical principles from ginger. Phytochemistry. 2015;117:554-568. doi:10.1016/j.phytochem.2015.07.012

2. Gingerol fights bacterial infections

In addition to reducing inflammation, gingerol is also great at fighting bacterial infections, which could lead to a plethora of diseases such as pneumonia, bronchitis and urinary tract infection.

Several studies have shown that ginger extract and its gingerol component can suppress the growth of a series of bacteria.[3]Karuppiah P, Rajaram S. Antibacterial effect of Allium sativum cloves and Zingiber officinale rhizomes against multiple-drug resistant clinical pathogens. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2012;2(8):597-601. … Continue reading

One such study showed that ginger was effective against several strains of drug resistant bacteria.[4]Gull I, Saeed M, Shaukat H, Aslam SM, Samra ZQ, Athar AM. Inhibitory effect of Allium sativum and Zingiber officinale extracts on clinically important drug resistant pathogenic bacteria. Ann Clin … Continue reading

Furthermore, ginger has also proved itself in fighting gum diseases, by clearing oral bacteria causing gingivitis and periodontitis.[5]Park M, Bae J, Lee DS. Antibacterial activity of [10]-gingerol and [12]-gingerol isolated from ginger rhizome against periodontal bacteria. Phytother Res. 2008;22(11):1446-1449. doi:10.1002/ptr.2473

In yet another research, hot water extract of fresh ginger was effective against  respiratory syncytial virus, a frequent cause of respiratory infections.[6]Chang JS, Wang KC, Yeh CF, Shieh DE, Chiang LC. Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines. J … Continue reading

3. Fungal infections can be treated with ginger

Another health benefit of ginger is in fighting fungal infections. From yeast infections to athlete’s foot, fungi can lead to a number of conditions. Thankfully, ginger is an effective antifungal. 

In a 2003 study comparing the antifungal potency of 29 plants on 13 pathogenic fungi, ginger came out as one of the most effective.[7]Ficker CE, Arnason JT, Vindas PS, et al. Inhibition of human pathogenic fungi by ethnobotanically selected plant extracts. Mycoses. 2003;46(1-2):29-37. doi:10.1046/j.1439-0507.2003.00838.x

In addition, ginger extract effectively combats two types of yeast that lead to bucal fungal infections.[8]Aghazadeh M, Zahedi Bialvaei A, Aghazadeh M, et al. Survey of the Antibiofilm and Antimicrobial Effects of Zingiber officinale (in Vitro Study). Jundishapur J Microbiol. 2016;9(2):e30167. Published … Continue reading

Don’t worry, you won’t need to rub ginger root on your feet or gums. Ginger essential oil, rich in gingerol, can be applied to the skin or taken internally

4. Treat indigestion with ginger

If you’re suffering from chronic indigestion, ginger might be the answer!

It’s commonly assumed that the main cause of indigestion is due to a delayed emptying of the stomach. Surprisingly, ginger can speed up the gastric emptying process.[9]Nikkhah Bodagh M, Maleki I, Hekmatdoost A. Ginger in gastrointestinal disorders: A systematic review of clinical trials. Food Sci Nutr. 2018;7(1):96-108. Published 2018 Nov 5. doi:10.1002/fsn3.807

Evenmore, ginger has been proven to be effective to reduce intestinal cramping, and prevent indigestion, flatulence, and bloating.[10]Ali BH, Blunden G, Tanira MO, Nemmar A. Some phytochemical, pharmacological and toxicological properties of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe): a review of recent research. Food Chem Toxicol. … Continue reading [11]Chrubasik S, Pittler MH, Roufogalis BD. Zingiberis rhizoma: a comprehensive review on the ginger effect and efficacy profiles. Phytomedicine. 2005;12(9):684-701. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2004.07.009 [12]Lohsiriwat S, Rukkiat M, Chaikomin R, Leelakusolvong S. Effect of ginger on lower esophageal sphincter pressure. J Med Assoc Thai. 2010;93(3):366-372.

5. Ginger can stop stomach ulcers

Stomach ulcers are a type of painful sores that can appear on the lining of the stomach. It’s typically accompanied by symptoms such as indigestion, fatigue, heartburn and abdominal discomfort. Here too, ginger can be beneficial.

One of the culprits leading to stomach ulcers is the good old aspirin. Good to know, a study from 2011 has shown that ginger powder can protect against the formation of stomach ulcers caused by aspirin by decreasing the amount of inflammatory proteins and stopping the ulcer causing enzymes.[13]Wang Z, Hasegawa J, Wang X, et al. Protective Effects of Ginger against Aspirin-Induced Gastric Ulcers in Rats. Yonago Acta Med. 2011;54(1):11-19.

6. Ease menstrual pain with ginger

Ginger has particular health benefits for women. Ginger has been used as a natural pain relief in traditional medicine for a long time, and studies have confirmed it’s particularly useful for menstrual pain.

One study concluded that ginger is as effective at alleviating period pain as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). The researchers concluded that ginger powder, mefenamic acid, and ibuprofen were equivalent at treating the menstrual cramps.[14]Ozgoli G, Goli M, Moattar F. Comparison of effects of ginger, mefenamic acid, and ibuprofen on pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea. J Altern Complement Med. 2009;15(2):129-132. … Continue reading

In addition, ginger can also be helpful at reducing the intensity and duration of period cramps.[15]Rahnama P, Montazeri A, Huseini HF, Kianbakht S, Naseri M. Effect of Zingiber officinale R. rhizomes (ginger) on pain relief in primary dysmenorrhea: a placebo randomized trial. BMC Complement Altern … Continue reading

7. Ginger alleviates nausea and morning sickness

Ginger can alleviate a wide range of nauseas, from travel sickness to pregnancy-nausea and even chemotherapy-related nausea.[16]Anh NH, Kim SJ, Long NP, et al. Ginger on Human Health: A Comprehensive Systematic Review of 109 Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients. 2020;12(1):157. Published 2020 Jan 6. doi:10.3390/nu12010157 However it doesn’t help with vomiting caused by nausea.

Ginger can significantly reduce postoperative nausea when given an hour prior to surgery.[17]Soltani E, Jangjoo A, Afzal Aghaei M, Dalili A. Effects of preoperative administration of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) on postoperative nausea and vomiting after laparoscopic cholecystectomy. … Continue reading

When it comes to chemotherapy, ginger’s bioactive compounds, specifically gingerol and shogaol, are efficient at reducing nausea.[18]Marx W, Ried K, McCarthy AL, et al. Ginger-Mechanism of action in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: A review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017;57(1):141-146. doi:10.1080/10408398.2013.865590

Moreover, ginger is a well known natural remedy for pregnancy-related nausea and morning sickness. A number of studies have proved that ginger is capable of reducing nausea symptoms with virtually no side effects.[19]Viljoen E, Visser J, Koen N, Musekiwa A. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting. Nutr J. 2014;13:20. … Continue reading

8. Ginger may suppress cancer growth

Although ginger isn’t a cure for cancer, it’s been considered as an alternative medicine for certain forms of cancer.

Chemoprevention is described as employing natural or synthetic substances to prevent cancer to start or progress. 

Once more, gingerol proves itself as a powerful bioactive component, with an increasing number of studies outlining its cancer chemopreventive effects.[20]Poltronieri J, Becceneri AB, Fuzer AM, et al. [6]-gingerol as a cancer chemopreventive agent: a review of its activity on different steps of the metastatic process. Mini Rev Med Chem. … Continue reading

9. Fight obesity with ginger

A number of studies are pointing towards ginger playing a significant role in weight loss and belly fat.[21]Maharlouei N, Tabrizi R, Lankarani KB, et al. The effects of ginger intake on weight loss and metabolic profiles among overweight and obese subjects: A systematic review and meta-analysis of … Continue reading

Further, in a 2016 study, over a 12 week period, participants were given 2 grams of ginger powder daily. Compared to the placebo group, the ginger group saw a reduction in body mass index (BMI) and blood insulin levels associated with obesity.[22]Ebrahimzadeh Attari V, Ostadrahimi A, Asghari Jafarabadi M, Mehralizadeh S, Mahluji S. Changes of serum adipocytokines and body weight following Zingiber officinale supplementation in obese women: a … Continue reading

Ginger’s impact on weight loss can be linked to its ability to influence the rate of caloric consumption and reducing inflammation in the body.[23]Venkatakrishnan K, Chiu H-F, Wang C-K. Extensive review of popular functional foods and nutraceuticals against obesity and its related complications with a special focus on randomized clinical … Continue reading

10. Ginger can help regulate blood sugar 

Another interesting health benefit of ginger is in regulating blood sugar levels. Therefore ginger is able to alleviate negative effects of high blood sugar, including incessant urination, headache and migraine, and constant feeling of thirst.

A 2019 study found that type 2 diabetes patients who added ginger to their diet saw a drastic improvement on their glucose level and that it lasted over a period of time.[24]Huang FY, Deng T, Meng LX, Ma XL. Dietary ginger as a traditional therapy for blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine … Continue reading

Blood sugar impacts a number of functions in our body and is a factor in diabetes and heart disease. Being able to regulate blood glucose levels can therefore improve diabetes and reduce the risk of heart disease.[25]Khandouzi N, Shidfar F, Rajab A, Rahideh T, Hosseini P, Mir Taheri M. The effects of ginger on fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin a1c, apolipoprotein B, apolipoprotein a-I and malondialdehyde in type 2 … Continue reading

11. Ginger to relieve joint and muscle pain

Keeping in mind that ginger’s gingerol is a powerful anti-inflammatory, it also has positive benefits for muscle pain and osteoarthritis.

Adding some ginger to your post workout smoothie can help muscle pain. Daily consumption of ginger can result in diminished muscle pain from exercise-induced muscle injury.[26]Black CD, Herring MP, Hurley DJ, O’Connor PJ. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces muscle pain caused by eccentric exercise. J Pain. 2010;11(9):894-903. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2009.12.013

Osteoarthritis is a chronic joint condition, a degenerative arthritis, that is common with knees. Research found that using ginger to treat osteoarthritis can greatly reduce pain and disability.[27]Altman RD, Marcussen KC. Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2001;44(11):2531-2538. … Continue reading

12. Lower your cholesterol with ginger

Cholesterol in itself isn’t a bad thing. It’s an important contributor to our body, from producing bile to making hormones. Nonetheless, high levels of LDL, bad cholesterol, can clog arteries increasing chances of heart problems.

Thankfully, ginger can naturally lower LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides, lowering risks of heart disease along with it. In a 2008 study, participants took 3 grams of ginger powder daily over 45 days. The result: along with total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol levels dropped by 10%.[28]Alizadeh-Navaei R, Roozbeh F, Saravi M, Pouramir M, Jalali F, Moghadamnia AA. Investigation of the effect of ginger on the lipid levels. A double blind controlled clinical trial. Saudi Med J. … Continue reading

13. Ginger to support brain function

Finally, an important health benefit of ginger is its ability to support our brain health and protect us from Alzheirmer’s disease and Parkinson’s.

Once more, the culprits are oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, which speed up the aging process and are linked to Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.

​​Rich in antioxidants and powerful anti-inflammatory properties, ginger plays an important factor in the health of our brain.

Ginger can directly reinforce brain function. Research conducted in 2012, showed that a daily dose of ginger extract could enhance reaction time and working memory.[29]Saenghong N, Wattanathorn J, Muchimapura S, et al. Zingiber officinale Improves Cognitive Function of the Middle-Aged Healthy Women. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:383062. … Continue reading

Furthermore, a collection of animal studies have demonstrated ginger’s ability to support brain function against age-related decline.[30]Wattanathorn J, Jittiwat J, Tongun T, Muchimapura S, Ingkaninan K. Zingiber officinale Mitigates Brain Damage and Improves Memory Impairment in Focal Cerebral Ischemic Rat. Evid Based Complement … Continue reading [31]Oboh G, Ademiluyi AO, Akinyemi AJ. Inhibition of acetylcholinesterase activities and some pro-oxidant induced lipid peroxidation in rat brain by two varieties of ginger (Zingiber officinale). Exp … Continue reading [32]Zeng GF, Zhang ZY, Lu L, Xiao DQ, Zong SH, He JM. Protective effects of ginger root extract on Alzheimer disease-induced behavioral dysfunction in rats. Rejuvenation Res. 2013;16(2):124-133. … Continue reading [33]Azam F, Amer AM, Abulifa AR, Elzwawi MM. Ginger components as new leads for the design and development of novel multi-targeted anti-Alzheimer’s drugs: a computational investigation. Drug Des … Continue reading

Health benefits of ginger: how much should you eat?

Ginger being quite potent in taste and flavor, you might naturally limit the amount you use depending on what form you use. A few drops of ginger essential oil can go a long way.

In order to maximize the health benefits of ginger, nutritionists tend to recommend 3-4 grams per day. 

However, if you are not having it in a dish with other foods, even just ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger can help decrease nausea.[34]Ryan JL. Treatment of Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea in Cancer Patients. Eur Oncol. 2010;6(2):14-16. doi:10.17925/eoh.2010.06.02.14

If you are having ginger as a tea, 4 cups a day is enough to enjoy its properties.

Related: Ginger Tea – health benefits & recipe

How to use ginger for its health benefits?

Ginger can be consumed in a number of forms: raw, cooked, as a powder (ginger spice), essential oil, or if you don’t enjoy the flavor as a capsule.

Choosing a piece of ginger at the store is pretty straightforward. Take a piece that is firm, with a peppery, zesty scent.

When ginger gets old, it can become quite dry and wrinkly. If the root is soft and moist, it has gone bad.

Fresh ginger root is great ground or in small pieces, just like you would use garlic, in a variety of dishes. From meat to fish and even salad dressings or vegetable stir fries, it’s easy to get your daily ginger intake.

Another delicious way to enjoy ginger is as a drink. Warm options include ginger tea or Golden Milk, which is great for combining ginger with other superfoods like turmeric and cinnamon. For cold options, ginger lemonade and juice are very refreshing. Try juicing ginger with other fruits like carrots and oranges for a tasty and nutritious beverage.

For a boost of gingerol, ginger essential oil can be applied directly to the skin or ingested. If you need to treat a fungal infection, add a few drops of the essential oil to a relaxing foot soak or massage into the affected area with a base oil like jojoba.

How to keep ginger?

To keep your ginger fresh longer, keep it unpeeled in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. In a cool dry place, ginger roots can be stored for approximately one month.

An alternative option is to freeze your ginger root. Skin and slice or grate your ginger before freezing it, to make it easy to use.

Does ginger have risks or side effects?

Ginger can be eaten without worrying about side effects. However, just like most good things, you can have too much of it. When eating too much ginger, symptoms of heartburn or diarrhea can appear.

Granted it is uncommon, some people can be allergic to ginger. If you feel hives, swelling or difficulty breathing after eating ginger, stop right away and rinse your mouth thoroughly. Consult your doctor to check if you have a ginger allergy.

Moreover, if your skin is very sensitive, it is best to do a patch test before starting to use ginger essential oil. It is advisable to use a base oil like jojoba or coconut rather than applying an essential oil directly to the skin, especially for large areas.

Key takeaways

  • Ginger is a powerful superfood thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
  • Some of the health benefits of ginger include:
    • Reducing inflammation
    • Fighting bacterial infections
    • Treating fungal infections
    • Healing indigestion
    • Reducing stomach ulcers
    • Ease menstrual pain
    • Alleviate nausea and morning sickness
    • Suppress cancer growth
    • Help with weight loss and obesity
    • Regulate blood sugar
    • Relieve joint and muscle pain
    • Lower cholesterol
    • Support brain function
  • Consuming 3 to 4 grams of ginger per day should be enough to reap its health benefits.
  • There are no side effects to ginger consumption when eaten in moderate quantities.

Related: What & when to eat before exercise

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*Be mindful about your health. This article is provided for informational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.