Ginger (Adrak) Benefits Uses And Side Effects
The ginger plant belongs to the family Zingiberaceae along with medicinal wonders like turmeric. It is one of the most important spices present in any kitchen worldwide. In fact, the spicy and refreshing ginger flavour is a staple ingredient in a lot of famous recipes. But, the zing of this condiment isn’t just restricted to the pantry.
For thousands of years, ginger has been in use as a healing agent in ayurvedic, unani and siddha medicine. It is one of the top herbs used for reducing nausea, vomiting, gas, and flatulence. Ginger tea is probably the most common beverage used in India for its warming and stimulating effects on the body. Starting to show up in the fall season, gingerbread candies and decorations make up most of the Christmas flavours and decorations.
The name ginger comes from a Sanskrit word srngaverum which translates to “horn root”, probably explaining the structure of the ginger root.
Did you know?
Ginger, popularly known as ginger root is actually a rhizome or a modified stem. It might interest you to know that one pound of ginger was considered to be equal to the value of a sheep in the 14th century. To this date, ginger remains a commodity highly prized for its medicinal and culinary value.
Some basic facts about ginger:
Botanical name: Zingiber officinale
Common names: Ginger, True ginger, Adrak
Sanskrit name: Adraka
Parts used: stem
Native region and geographical distribution: Ginger is a native of tropical regions of Asia. It is widely grown in India, Africa and parts of America.
- Ginger nutrition facts
- Ginger health benefits
- How to use ginger
- How much ginger can be taken per day
- Ginger side effects
Ginger nutrition facts
Nutritional value of raw ginger per 100g is as follows:
Water 78.9 g
Fiber 2 g
Protein 1.8 g
Fats 0.75 g
Calcium 16 mg
Magnesium 43 mg
Potassium 415 mg
Vitamin C 5 mg
Energy: 80 Kcal
Ginger health benefits
Ginger is like a medicinal superfood for almost all the important functions of the body. It is difficult to count all the healing benefits of this ayurvedic marvel on a single hand.
It is an antiemetic (stops nausea and vomiting), antitussive (suppresses cough), anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and an excellent antioxidant. Additionally, the hypoglycemic (lowers blood sugar) and hypolipidemic (lowers cholesterol) effects of ginger have been found to be very beneficial for maintaining the heart health. Without going into much detail here, let us explore some of the evidence-based health benefits of ginger root.
Reduces nausea: Ginger is one of the best remedies for nausea and vomiting. Not only it reduces nausea in pregnancy and motion sickness but also it has been found to be effective in case of post-operative and chemotherapy-induced nausea.
Helps lose weight: Ginger is traditionally known to be effective in reducing body weight. It has now been scientifically evident that this herb promotes weight reduction by curbing appetite, interfering with lipid metabolism, and increasing body temperature.
For cough and cold: Ginger increases pitta in body, which is results in reduction of fever and cold. It also mediates an antibacterial effect and active constituents which have been found to relieve cough.
Improves digestion: Ginger is known to improve digestion and absorption of food from the intestines. It also reduces bloating and stomach gas.
Benefits for women: Ginger is a well-known remedy for period cramps. Clinical studies suggest that consuming ginger 3 days prior to and during the first 2 days of menstruation can help relieve period pain. It also reduces excess blood flow during menstruation.
Reduces blood pressure: Ginger is used as a hypotensive (reduces blood pressure) agent in ayurvedic medicine. It is found to have a relaxing effect on arterial walls, which is conducive to blood pressure reduction.
- Ginger for weight loss
- Ginger antioxidant properties
- Ginger for cholesterol
- Ginger for high blood pressure
- Ginger benefits for men
- Ginger benefits for hair and skin
- Ginger benefits for women
- Ginger for cough and cold
- Ginger benefits for stomach
- Ginger for morning sickness
- Ginger for motion sickness
- Ginger for post-operative nausea
- Ginger for chemotherapy induced nausea
- Ginger as an antimicrobial
- Ginger reduces blood clotting
- Ginger for diabetes
- Ginger for arthritis
Ginger for weight loss
Ginger and ginger water is one of the most common home remedy for weight loss. In vivo (animal based) studies suggest that oral administration of ginger helps in reducing the body weight and the lipid content of the body.
A recent pilot study hints that consumption of ginger increases body temperature and reduces appetite thus leading to an overall reduced body weight.
According to a review article published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 14 different RCTs confirm the efficiency of ginger as a weight loss agent. The meta-analysis suggests that consumption of ginger not only leads to a reduced body mass but it also leads to a reduction in waist and hip circumference.
In spite of the extensive anti-obesity research, the exact weight loss mechanism of ginger has not been found. A recent review indicates that ginger helps in reducing weight by interfering with the lipid metabolism, increasing body temperature or reducing appetite.
Ginger antioxidant properties
The rhizome (ginger stem) of ginger is known to be enriched with several antioxidant compounds. Several animal models claim that ginger is an excellent antioxidative agent. A study done in India, suggests that the polyphenols, Vitamin C, flavonoids, and tannins present in ginger are mainly responsible for its antioxidant properties. A separate study reports 6-shogaol (a biochemical present in ginger) to be the most efficient antioxidant in ginger loosely followed by 10-gingerol.
A recent study done on 43 cancer patients observed that consumption of ginger increased the antioxidant activity in the body along with reducing the CINV. However, confirmatory evidence is still needed to ensure the safety of ginger supplements as antioxidants
Ginger for cholesterol
In vivo studies suggest that ginger may be helpful in maintaining the body cholesterol levels by reducing the levels of harmful fats.
A clinical study including 40 hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) patients reported that consumption of 1g of ginger thrice a day, leads to a reduction in triglyceride fats and low density (bad) cholesterol.
Furthermore, the antioxidant properties of ginger inhibit fat oxidation in the body thus reducing the risk of atherosclerosis (fat deposits in arteries). Together, these properties lower the risk of heart related problems like cardiac arrest and heart attack.
Ginger for high blood pressure
Ginger is one of the known ayurvedic remedies for high blood pressure.
In a recent clinical study, a group of 60 people with high blood pressure were given ginger root at a volume of 100 mg and 50 mg per kg of body weight. Blood pressure of all subjects was noted at regular intervals and it was observed that consumption of ginger leads to a reduction in the systolic blood pressure after 4 hours.
A further study on 60 hypertension patients confirms the effects of ginger in reducing systolic blood pressure. According to an in vivo study, ginger reduces high blood pressure by acting on the calcium channels in our body which leads to relaxation of arterial walls thus reducing blood pressure.
From the above studies, it can be conferred that ginger may be helpful as an antihypertensive food supplement.
Ginger benefits for men
When it comes to the benefits of ginger on male fertility, there is a lot of contradictory evidence. While in vivo studies claim that consumption of ginger may stimulate sperm motility, increase testosterone levels and sperm count, an in vitro study hints at the toxic effects of ginger extracts on the male reproductive function.
DNA fragmentation of the sperm is one of the major causes of infertility in men. It has been associated with female problems like miscarriages and difficulties in conceiving. A lot of research is being done to find an effective mode of treatment for this problem. But no clinical treatment method has yet been found. Ginger is a strong antioxidant, which means it might be helpful in reducing DNA based damage.
In a recent clinical study, 100 men with fertility related problems were given a dose of 250 gram of ginger two times a day for a period of 3 months. At the end of the study, it was found that ginger has some effects in reducing sperm DNA fragmentation.
However, if you want to take ginger as a fertility supplement, it is best that you talk to your ayurvedic doctor first.
Ginger benefits for hair and skin
Ginger is widely known for its benefits in promoting hair growth and reducing various hair and skin related problems. While there hasn’t been much scientific research on the effects of ginger on hairs or skin. Ginger has been reported to be an excellent antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Together, these three properties may be helpful in reducing hair fall, avoiding skin infections and alleviating conditions like scaly and itchy scalp.
Thus, ginger could not only provide you with longer hairs but it can also give you a healthier and glowing skin. Furthermore, ginger is known to contain in some minerals like calcium and magnesium which could be nourishing to the hair shafts. However, there is a single lab-based evidence that contradicts the popular usage of ginger as an anti-hair fall plant. According to this study, the 6-gingerol present in ginger inhibits the growth of hair follicles.
In the light of this contradictory evidence, it is best to check in with a doctor to know more about the effects of ginger on hair or skin.
Ginger benefits for women
Dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps) and heavy bleeding are two of the most consistent causes of discomfort amongst females. Various herb based remedies have been in use to alleviate various menstrual problems. Ginger is one such home remedy that is used for the treatment of period problems like cramps and heavy bleeding.
Studies suggest that consumption of ginger 3 days before the onset of menstruation and during the first 2 days of period can be very helpful in reducing menstrual cramps.
In a clinical trial done in Iran, ginger capsules (500 mg) were given to females with dysmenorrhea three times a day for 5 days, starting from two days before the onset of menstruation. The study reported that ginger can be very effective in reducing period pains.
Finally, a recent research claims that regular consumption of ginger capsules reduces the excess flow of blood during menstruation.
The above studies confirm the efficiency of ginger root against various menstrual discomforts.
Ginger for cough and cold
Ginger or ginger tea is one of the most common cold and cough remedies. According to ayurveda, ginger aggravates pitta dosha, which means that consumption of ginger would have a warming effect on the body. Thus, providing respite from fever and coughs. Furthermore, various chemical constituents present in ginger like gingerols have also been found to be helpful in reducing fever, pain and coughing along with having a calming effect on the body.
Lastly, the antimicrobial action of ginger would help in clearing out any infection-causing bacteria from the body. So, next time you get a cold, you know what to look for.
Ginger benefits for stomach
As we all know, ginger is one of the top herbs used for alleviating various digestive discomforts.
In fact, several studies confirm the anti-emetic efficiency of ginger. It has also been reported that the chemical components present in ginger stimulate the process of digestion and absorption of food in the stomach.
Additionally, as an antimicrobial, ginger root kills the harmful bacteria present in the gut which otherwise can lead to problems like gas and bloating in the stomach.
Ginger for morning sickness
Morning sickness is a term used for conditions of nausea and vomiting experienced by most females during pregnancy. The common medications available for reducing morning sickness come with their own set of side effects. Furthermore, most pregnant women don’t take any kinda anti-nausea medication with the fear that it might have a harmful effect on the foetus.
Herbal supplements, on the other hand, are much more preferred in such cases. Not only they have been in use and known widely for their efficiency but they don’t come with the side effects that are associated with some medicines. Ginger is a well-known remedy for nausea and vomiting.
Numerous studies have been done to test the efficiency of ginger in reducing the symptoms of morning sickness. According to a review article published in the Journal of American Board of Family Medicine, at least six different clinical trials indicate that ginger is helpful in reducing the severity of morning sickness symptoms in early pregnancy. However, the exact mode of action has not been found yet.
Ginger for motion sickness
Motion sickness refers to the feeling of nausea, vomiting and cold sweats that are caused due to any kind of travel (bus, train, car or boats). Ginger is one of the top remedies used for relieving symptoms of nausea and vomiting that are commonly associated with motion sickness.
The antiemetic (reducing nausea and vomiting symptoms) effects of ginger have been widely studied but they don’t come without contradictions. A clinical trial including 13 otherwise healthy volunteers suggests that administration of ginger significantly reduces nausea and vomiting. In another clinical trial, ginger root has been claimed to be useful in reducing vertigo.
In a study involving 36 young people of both sexes, it was reported that ginger root is a more effective antiemetic than dimenhydrinate (a common drug used to treat nausea and vomiting). A further study suggests that ginger does not affect the nervous system, the antiemetic effects of ginger root may be linked to its effects on the gut.
However, a few RCTs (random clinical trials) claim that ginger has no effect on any symptom of motion sickness.
Ginger for post-operative nausea
Post-operative nausea and vomiting remain one of the major concern for patients all over the world. According to anaesthetists, nausea and vomiting after surgery could be due to anaesthesia but patient physiology may also be responsible for it.
At least three different clinical studies suggest that consumption of ginger root is very effective in reducing nausea and vomiting associated with surgeries.
According to a review article published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, consuming ginger at a dosage of 1 gram is highly effective in postoperative nausea. However, if you have recently undergone a surgery, it is better that you refer to your doctor before taking ginger in any form.
Ginger for chemotherapy induced nausea
Nausea and vomiting are probably one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy. According to doctors, cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy, suffer from acute (within 2-3 hours of chemotherapy), delayed (much after chemotherapy), and anticipatory (with patients who have undergone chemotherapy before) nausea and vomiting.
The antiemetic drugs used in the treatment of chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting haven’t been found to be very successful. In this time of need, medical practitioners are resorting to more herbal based antiemetics. A recent, clinical study on 536 cancer patients, it has been suggested that consumption of 0.5 to 1 gram of ginger root is very useful in reducing chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting (CINV).
Several RCTs (random clinical trials) have been done to confirm the antiemetic effects of ginger root in CINV. One such study reflects that ginger is as effective as metoclopramide (a drug used to counter nausea and vomiting) in delayed type CINV.
However, a recent clinical study including 36 chemotherapy patients, reported that ginger has no effect on CINV. Due to the presence of contradictory evidence, chemotherapy patients are advised to check in with their doctor before taking ginger.
Ginger as an antimicrobial
Extensive lab-based research has been done to test the antimicrobial action of ginger extracts and ginger paste against various bacterial pathogens. All in vitro (lab-based) studies confirm the efficiency of ginger as an excellent antimicrobial agent. A recent study suggests that soybean oil extracts of ginger are useful in killing common food-borne bacteria like Escherichia coli, Vibrio cholerae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus spp.
Another in vitro study claims that the ethanolic extracts of ginger are very efficient in killing multidrug-resistant bacteria. E coli OH157: H7 is a food-borne pathogen, responsible for causing bloody diarrhea (diarrhea with blood) in humans. So far, there is no effective treatment for this pathogen.
However, a comparative study mentions that both commercial and fresh ginger paste are effective in killing E coli OH157:H7 strains. Thus, ginger may have a future in antimicrobial therapies.
Ginger reduces blood clotting
In vitro and in vivo (animal based) studies suggest that ginger mediates a strong anticoagulant activity by increasing the prothrombin time (time-taken by the body to make a blood-clot). Further studies indicate that ginger extracts interfere with clot formation in the body by inhibiting the formation of thromboxane, a hormone which constricts blood vessels and helps initiate clotting at the injury site.
A recent study hints that -gingerol and -shogaol are the two biologically active compounds present in ginger which are responsible for the anticlotting actions of this plant.
Ginger for diabetes
Diabetes mellitus is a hormonal disorder wherein the body cannot metabolise its sugars properly. It is mainly caused when the insulin levels of a person’s body are low or it is not able to properly take up glucose from the bloodstream. Almost all lab-based and clinical studies claim the efficiency of ginger as an antidiabetic.
In two different clinical trials, diabetes patients were given 2 grams of ginger powder per day for 12 weeks and about 2000 milligrams of ginger supplements per day for a period of 10 weeks, at the end of the designated period, both the studies came to the conclusion that administration of ginger increases the insulin sensitivity in the body thus leading to lower blood sugar levels.
So, it can be safely said that ginger may be used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. However, for safety concerns, it’s always best to check in with your doctor before taking ginger as a health supplement.
Ginger for arthritis
Ginger has long since been used as a traditional remedy for inflammation. It is known as a pathya (dietary herbs that are good for health) in ayurveda. Ayurvedic medicine especially regards ginger for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory actions. The traditional popularity of ginger has lead to an array of studies to study the exact mechanism and usefulness of ginger in inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
A small clinical study suggested that ginger inhibits the action of cyclooxygenase and 5-lipoxygenase, two natural enzymes that are responsible for mediating an inflammatory response in the body.
According to a review article published in Advances in Food technology and Nutritional Sciences, ginger also stimulates the action of anti-inflammatory molecules in our body (cytokines and T-H-2 cells). It was also mentioned that the anti-inflammatory response of ginger is much more pronounced than indomethacin (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug).
Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory actions of ginger have been attributed to various biochemicals like gingerol and shogaol.
However, more studies are still needed to confirm the safety and dosage of ginger root for human inflammatory diseases.
How to use ginger
Ginger is most commonly used as a spice and a flavouring agent in various Asian recipes. The aromatic flavour of ginger is characteristic of gingerbread, pies, cakes and ginger based confectionery. It is also the primary flavouring spice in ginger ale.
Ginger oil is used topically for reducing skin inflammation and infections.
Ginger powder is one of the main ingredients of Garam masala, the famous Indian spice mixture. It is also used for providing a distinct spicy kick to various dishes and beverages like Pannakam (Indian beverage made from jaggery and dried ginger).
Ginger capsules and tablets are also used for the treatment of various health-related problems.
How to make ginger water
Ginger water or ginger tea is probably the most widely used home remedy for digestive discomfort. A tea made from ginger, lemon, and honey is also used for losing weight. In fact, a lot of famous brands have launched their own variety of honey ginger tea or lemon ginger and honey tea varieties. According to a recent study, ginger and green tea exhibit much stronger antioxidant activity as compared to either of them alone. Here is an easy recipe for making ginger water:
Boil 2 cups of water in a pan.
Put a small piece of ginger root in the boiling water.
Let it simmer for 5-6 minutes.
Take the pan off the stove, filter and drink it warm.
You can also add some honey and lemon to your ginger water to make it more flavourful and boost the antibiotic and antioxidant properties of your ginger tea.
How much ginger can be taken per day
Ginger powder at a dosage of 1-3 gram per day has been used in some clinical studies without showing any significant side effects. The ideal dosage of ginger would depend on the individual’s body type and symptoms.
Ginger side effects
Ginger is a natural warming herb, thus excess consumption may lead to heartburn, diarrhea or other stomach related problems.
Studies suggest that ginger lowers the blood pressure. So, if you have a naturally low blood pressure or you are taking blood pressure lowering pills, it is better to avoid ginger.
If you are consuming any other kind of medication, it is better to check in with a doctor before taking ginger in any form.
Ginger has been reported to be useful in reducing morning sickness symptoms in pregnant women but moderation must be followed while taking ginger during pregnancy.