Ginger root is the rhizome (underground root) of a flowering perennial herb closely related to other aromatic plants like turmeric, galangal and cardamom - all of which have therapeutic and medicinal benefits, and are widely used in cuisines around the world.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a condition or not, have had symptoms for years or only recently, the good news is science can now confirm what traditional medicine has been practicing for thousands of years – plants like ginger have the power to improve a wide variety of conditions and ailments and improve overall health.
1. Ginger May Reduce Nausea
Ginger’s primary bioactive substances include gingerols and shogaols. Therapeutic uses of ginger traditionally target inflammatory and digestive ailments and are frequently used for indigestion, nausea, slow motility and vomiting.
Randomized, controlled trials find that 1.0-2.0 grams a day of ginger reduces nausea and vomiting, and improves gastric function over placebo. A dose of 0.5-2.0g per day was found to be effective at reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
Many other studies support these findings. A meta-analysis reports ginger is a safe, and possibly effective aid for pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting. The preferred dosing is reported as less than 1500mg ginger extract a day for this population.
2. Ginger May Improve Gastric Motility
Gastric motility is defined as the process when the stomach pulsates in rhythmic waves from the top (fundus) to the bottom (antrum) to mix food with acid and move it into the small intestine. When gastric motility is delayed, known as delayed gastric emptying or gastroparesis, bloating, pain and nausea may ensue as the food is not emptied properly.
Research finds ginger accelerates gastric emptying and gastric contractions - two functions that are compromised in those with delayed gastric emptying, hypomotility and gastroparesis – and is an effective alternative to high-risk motility/prokinetic drugs like domperidone and metoclopramide.
Other studies also confirm similar findings – 1.2g ginger extract given prior to a single meal sped up gastric emptying more than placebo in those with dyspepsia.
3. Ginger May Reduce Pain
Many studies have looked at how ginger might affect pain from a variety of origins.
One study found ginger was effective at reducing chest and lower back pain after angioplasty.
Another study found 400 mg ginger extract plus ketoprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, improved migraine symptoms and function during a migraine attack compared to placebo plus ketoprofen.
4. Ginger May Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is a driver in many chronic illnesses, including those that cause chronic pain and discomfort, such as osteoarthritis (OA).
A total of six randomized, controlled trials all found ginger, in doses of at least 500mg per day, improved symptoms of OA due to reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and other factors.
Ginger intervention trials also show other biomarkers indicative of inflammation, such as c-reactive protein (CRP) and antioxidant levels, improve after supplementation.
5. Ginger May Improve Markers of Metabolic Dysfunction
Metabolic dysfunction or syndrome is characterized by elevated triglycerides, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high fasting glucose, and abdominal obesity. When biomarkers are better controlled, disease progression is less likely to occur.
Five randomized, controlled trials explored ginger’s effect on metabolic function and found improvements in many of these biomarkers and metabolic assessments, including insulin resistance, HOMA-IR, triglycerides, fat mass, lipids, and hemoglobin-A1c.
Forms and Effective Doses of Ginger
Ginger is available in a wide variety of forms – whole root, paste, tea, chews, and supplement extracts. For ginger, there is no form that is superior if you are obtaining the same concentration. Choose the form that you enjoy and are able to be consistent with.
Consider drinking ginger tea multiple times a day (2.0 grams per serving), or taking 0.4-2.0 grams (400-2000mg) a day of ginger root extract for relief. For those who can tolerate added sugar, some brands of ginger chews can also provide 2.0g ginger.
Ginger root is closely related to the turmeric plant and contains two main bioactive compounds – gingerols and shogaols that are responsible for their health benefits.
Ginger may reduce nausea and vomiting in a variety of populations.
Ginger may speed up gastric motility and improve symptoms of delayed gastric emptying, dyspepsia and gastroparesis.
Ginger is a helpful pain reliever for those with migraines and musculoskeletal pain.
Research finds ginger reduces inflammation and is especially helpful for those with osteoarthritis.
Ginger has been shown to improve biomarkers of metabolic function reducing risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes progression.
Ginger has a long history of medicinal use in cultures around the world and is among some of the most powerful plants available worldwide. Enjoy ginger in your food, ginger tea, and ginger supplements to reduce symptoms like nausea, delayed gastric emptying, inflammation, and pain.
Anh, N. H., Kim, S. J., Long, N. P., Min, J. E., Yoon, Y. C., Lee, E. G., Kim, M., Kim, T. J., Yang, Y. Y., Son, E. Y., Yoon, S. J., Diem, N. C., Kim, H. M., & Kwon, S. W. (2020). Ginger on Human Health: A Comprehensive Systematic Review of 109 Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients, 12(1), 157.
Giacosa, A., Morazzoni, P., Bombardelli, E., Riva, A., Bianchi Porro, G., Rondanelli, M. (2015). Can nausea and vomiting be treated with ginger extract. European Review for Medical and Pharmacoholical Sciences.
Hu, M. L., Rayner, C. K., Wu, K. L., Chuah, S. K., Tai, W. C., Chou, Y. P., Chiu, Y. C., Chiu, K. W., & Hu, T. H. (2011). Effect of ginger on gastric motility and symptoms of functional dyspepsia. World journal of gastroenterology, 17(1), 105–110.
Martins, L. B., Rodrigues, A., Rodrigues, D. F., Dos Santos, L. C., Teixeira, A. L., & Ferreira, A. (2019). Double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial of ginger ( Zingiber officinale Rosc.) addition in migraine acute treatment. Cephalalgia : an international journal of headache, 39(1), 68–76.
Viljoen, E., Visser, J., Koen, N., & Musekiwa, A. (2014). A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting. Nutrition journal, 13, 20.