If, as a kid with an upset tummy, your mom gave you ginger ale with all the bubbles stirred out of it to sip, you’re already aware of one of ginger’s benefits as a remedy for nausea and vomiting. Or you may have grown to love this flavorful spice because of its prominence in traditional southeast Asian food.
Ginger itself is a flowering plant, but you probably know it best as ginger ale, candied ginger alongside sushi, or that weird looking root in the produce section of the grocery store. (Or maybe you love ginger snaps as much as I do!)
Ginger is so commonly available today that you may not know the root has been used as medicine for thousands of years by healers who understand its power.
Ginger Benefits Supported By Science
These 35 ways that ginger benefits your health range from mildly annoying everyday conditions to serious health challenges that can be life threatening. Come discover the astonishing power of this simple herb.
1. Nausea and vomiting caused by HIV/AIDS treatment: researchers have shown that 500 mg of ginger taken at specific times reduce nausea and vomiting for people undergoing HIV/AIDS treatment.
2. Nausea and vomiting following surgery: taking ginger before surgery has been proven to reduce the nausea and vomiting which is a common side effect of anesthesia.
3. Motion sickness : a variety of studies have shown ginger can prevent motion sickness, also known as sea sickness or car sickness.
4. Morning sickness: if you’re in that miserable pregnancy phase when you’re tossing your cookies, ginger can help (but as always, check with your doctor first).
5. Nausea and vomiting due to cancer therapy: one of the most insidious side effects of chemo is nausea and vomiting. Ginger can give you relief.
6. Upset stomach (dyspepsia): ginger will speed up the movement through your system of the food causing your stomach upset. The sooner it’s gone, the sooner you’ll feel better.
7. Alcohol hangover: if you’ve had a wild night out and overdone a round of drinking, sip some ginger tea to calm your nausea and vomiting.
8. Dizziness (vertigo): if you suffer from vertigo, ginger can alleviate it.
9. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): there is evidence that ginger may be useful to reduce both pain and stool changes associated with IBS.
10. Osteoarthritis: ginger may help with pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis in your joints.
11. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): ginger has been shown to reduce pain after standing and walking if you have RA.
12. Muscle pain caused by exercise: Research shows that taking ginger may help reduce muscle pain caused by exercise.
13. Joint pain: because the oils in ginger reduce inflammation, taking it helps reduce joint pain that’s not specific to arthritis.
14. Migraine headache: studies show ginger can reduce the nausea and vomiting brought on by migraines, and may decrease other symptoms too.
15. Sudden respiratory system failure (acute respiratory distress syndrome): ginger extract as a dietary supplement may reduce duration of mechanical ventilation and time in intensive care
16. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): ginger breaks down mucus, reduces inflammation, and improves lung circulation to benefit people who suffer from COPD.
17. Type 2 Diabetes: ginger powder supplement improves fasting blood sugar and other blood markers specific to Type 2 diabetes.
18. High cholesterol: ginger can lower your cholesterol, which reduces your risk of heart disease – the number one killer of men and women worldwide.
19. High blood pressure: ginger has been shown to reduce high blood pressure, lowering your risk of stroke.
20. Induce labor: ginger has been shown to help you safely start labor more quickly (but please check with your doctor first)
21. Heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia): studies have shown that ginger is very effective to treat heavy menstrual bleeding. Since heavy bleeding can indicate a serious underlying medical condition, please have a medical exam to determine the cause.
22. Painful menstrual periods: you can reduce or even stop painful menstrual cramps with ginger.
23. Recovery after surgery: not only can ginger treat post-surgery nausea, it can also calm your nervous system. When you’re calmer, you heal more quickly and thoroughly.
24. Trouble swallowing: in studies, ginger has been shown to improve swallowing function, which reduces your risk of aspiration pneumonia, a condition that’s especially risky for elders.
25. Weight loss: numerous studies have shown ginger has fat-burning properties (which, alas, doesn’t work if you ingest your ginger in the form of cookies!)
26. Anorexia: because ginger stimulates your appetite, you can use it to treat anorexia that’s a result of other medical conditions as well as of anorexia nervosa.
27. Bacterial infection of the intestine (Cholera): a component of ginger called G6 has proven effective in treating the serious diarrheal disease cholera, especially antibiotic resistant strains. You may think that cholera is a disease of the past, but it’s surprisingly common around the world.
28. Hair loss: because ginger stimulates circulation, it’s useful to treat hair loss in both men and women. As well, ginger’s vitamins and minerals promote healthy hair growth.
29. As a blood thinner: because ginger is a natural blood thinner, it can be beneficial for people who are at risk for a stroke or heart attack because their blood clots a little too well.
30. Insect bites: ginger extract applied to your skin can help prevent insect bites including mosquito bites. Which, if you live in an area where mosquitoes devour you as soon as you step outdoors, is excellent news.
31. Non-alcholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): this is a very common liver disease, caused by too much fat stored in the liver, with serious consequences. Ginger has been shown to reduce some of the effects. An estimated 80-100 million people in the US have NAFLD..
32. Colds: the anti-inflammatories in ginger will soothe your sore throat as well as kill the virus which causes colds
33. Nausea caused by anti-depressants: ginger’s well-established benefit for nausea extends to digestive upset caused by anti-depressant medication, which is a common side effect of anti-depressants.
34. Flu: when you have the flu, you’re often nauseated. Ginger will help.
35. Toothaches: ginger’s anti-bacterial qualities mean it’s very helpful to reduce pain and inflammation of a toothache.
How To Eat Ginger (And Get It Into Your System In Other Ways Too)
Now that you’ve discovered these many ginger benefits, you may be wondering about the different ways you can take it. Some you probably already know, and some may surprise you.
A simple way to get a healthy quantity of ginger is by drinking ginger water, available as herbal water, tea, or juice. You can buy it online, or it’s simple to make it yourself with fresh ginger root to get the most benefits from ginger water.
Ginger tea is another popular way to get your ginger dose! You can drink it hot or cold, and will find it in the tea aisle of most grocery and health food stores. I love to drink it as iced tea, which I make using this sun tea method.
If you’ve skipped right past the funny-looking brown ginger roots in your grocery store, try picking up a piece next time you’re shopping. Besides for tea, you can use the fresh root in all kinds of ways: cut up into your morning smoothie, in different southeast Asian recipes, or simply grated into a cup of hot water. Just be sure to peel it first.
Of course, if you don’t have fresh root on hand you can use ginger powder (also called ground ginger), found in the spice section of your grocery store. In a pinch you can drop a bit into a cup of hot water to replace grated fresh root.
And to really up your ginger game, especially if your health care provider recommends you need a fairly high dosage beyond a reasonable amount to eat, you can take supplements. Supplements are available pretty much anywhere: grocery and health food stores as well as online.
Here’s a little trick I learned from a good friend who suffers from IBS: use several drops of ginger essential oil to calm your digestion or alleviate nausea. Drop the oil onto your abdomen just below your belly button, and gently rub with your fingers in a clockwise motion for several minutes. It really works!
How Much Ginger Should I Take Daily?
Dosage amounts vary widely depending on your health condition and the form in which you’ll be taking ginger.
If your health care provider has prescribed ginger for you, follow their dosage. If you’re self-medicating, do your research. Look online. Check your sources to make sure they’re legitimate. Read the instructions on the package or bottle and abide by them.
Although the risk of taking ginger is minimal, taking too much orally can cause unwelcome side effects including heartburn, gas, or abdominal bloating. When using oil on your skin, don’t overdo it or you may cause a rash or burning sensation.
When taking ginger by mouth, health experts caution not to exceed 4 grams per day to be on the safe side.
And as always, if you experience shortness of breath or throat swelling after taking ginger, immediately seek medical help as these are signs of an allergic reaction that could jeopardize your health.
The Simple Herb That Could Improve Your Life
If, like me, you kinda sorta knew that ginger is good for you, these many scientifically-supported ways it can help your health may come as a surprise.
Whether you’ve got an annoying but fairly minor condition you’re dealing with, or a more serious health challenge, you see how adding ginger to your health care routine can really improve your life.
We’ve come a long way from sipping flat ginger ale because we’re throwing up – although this little trick still works! But do yourself an enormous favor, and give ginger a try. Whether you drink it, discover a delicious new recipe featuring ginger, or decide supplements are right for you, you’ll be glad you harnessed the power of this simple herb.