Most of ginger health benefits and effects are largely due to its active constituents: gingerols, shogaols, and zingerones. These compounds have been found to aid in easing digestive issues and combating inflammation, therefore making ginger an excellent, all-natural home remedy for many common ailments. However, there are also some ginger side effects and cautions that you should take into consideration.
Ginger's Antispasmodic and Anti-Emetic Effects
Perhaps the most well-known and supported medicinal uses of ginger are related to this root's ability to counter nausea. Ginger is best at combating the following types of nausea:
Motion sickness. Many healthcare professionals recommend ginger for treating and preventing nausea from motion sickness, as well as from altitude sickness. Ginger has been found to be more effective than dimenhydrinate or placebo in treating nausea.
Pregnancy nausea and vomiting. Studies have shown that women who ingest ginger in early pregnancy experience less nausea and vomiting. However, women who are pregnant should not take more than one gram a day, and only for short periods (no longer than four days).
Chemotherapy nausea. Current research suggests that ginger is useful in reducing the duration and severity of nausea experienced by patients during chemotherapy.
- Dyspepsia. Ginger's effects against dyspepsia (heartburn and indigestion, often accompanied by nausea and vomiting) are due to its high levels of gingerols, which have anti-ulcer and cholagogue effects.
Ginger's Anti-Inflammatory Effects
The popular use of ginger for inflammation has proven effective, and this is due to the fact that its compounds have the ability to modulate biochemical pathways that are linked to chronic swelling and pain. Ginger's anti-inflammatory effects are most often applied to treat the following conditions:
Headaches and migraines. Ginger's anti-inflammatory effects have contributed to the relief of headache and migraine pain.
- Joint inflammation. Studies have shown that a purified and standardized ginger extract is highly effective in reducing the pain and symptoms associated with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Ginger's Antioxidant Effects
Ginger acts as a powerful antioxidant and has been shown to be effective in reducing oxidative stress caused by free radicals in the environment. The phytochemistry of ginger's compounds allows them to find and deactivate free radicals in the body, therefore helping prevent many serious diseases.
Ginger Side Effects and Cautions
Adults should not consume more than four grams of ginger per day in any form, and pregnant women should not take more than one gram of ginger per day. Before taking ginger for medicinal purposes you should always consult to your doctor.
While taking this Asian root reports many health benefits, ginger supplements should be taken with caution. Though it is rare to experience side effects from taking ginger, when consumed in high doses, it may cause stomach discomfort, which may include symptoms such as heartburn, diarrhea, upset stomach, or mouth irritation.
There is a possibility that ginger may lower blood pressure. For that reason, do not take ginger in combination with high blood pressure medications. In addition, ginger may increase the risk of bleeding and shouldn't be taken with blood-thinning medications. Ginger may also lower blood sugar and can increase the risk of developing hypoglycemia or low blood sugar in patients being treated for diabetes. If you are unsure about the possible effects of ginger, be sure to consult your doctor.
Most of ginger's health benefits have been validated by scientific studies, as well as by popular use since ancient times. As a natural herb, ginger is great for being used in treating inflammation and nausea, as well as for preventing many diseases.
- Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, p. 155
- Medicinal Plants of the World, p. 349
- Journal of Medicinal Food, Ginger – An Herbal Medicinal Product with Broad Anti-Inflammatory Actions, 2005
- International Journal of Preventive Medicine, Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence, 2013
- Food and Chemical Toxicology, Cancer preventive properties of ginger: a brief review, 2007
- Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Comparative antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of -gingerol, -gingerol, -gingerol and -shogaol, 2010
- University of Maryland Medical Center, Ginger
- Metabolism, What is oxidative stress?, 2000
- Arthritis & Rheumatology, Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis, 2001
- Mayo Clinic, Nonulcer stomach pain
- Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, Chapter 7, The Amazing and Mighty Ginger