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How You Can Use Ginger Every Day To Relieve Pain, Improve Digestion, And Boost Heart Health

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How You Can Use Ginger Every Day To Relieve Pain, Improve Digestion, And Boost Heart Health

Ginger stands as a testament to the concept of food as medicine. This spice is derived from the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, native to parts of Asia. Known for its spicy "kick" in the kitchen, ginger has been a medicinal staple for centuries, with its use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and ayurveda dating back to the 1500s. With its potent anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antioxidant, analgesic, antimicrobial, and hepatoprotective properties, ginger is a versatile remedy capable of relieving a broad range of ailments. The historical significance of ginger in medicinal practices underscores the profound impact food can have on our well-being, highlighting the potential of natural remedies in promoting health and healing.


Chemical Composition of Ginger

Over one hundred compounds have been isolated from ginger and identified to have medicinal properties. The major classes of ginger constituents include gingerols, shogaols, zingiberene, and zingerone; however, ginger is also rich in aromatic terpenes, vitamins, and minerals. (2)

The medicinal properties of ginger can be attributed to its active constituents, which possess a variety of pharmacologic properties including, but not limited to, antipyretic, analgesic, antitussive, anti-inflammatory, sedative, antibiotic, and antifungal. (17, 32

For example, 6-, 8- and 10-gingerol and 6-shagaol have demonstrated antioxidant effects through their ability to increase glutathione peroxidase activity and total antioxidant capacity. Preclinical research has also revealed that 6-gingerol can inhibit neurokinin-1, serotonin, and dopamine receptors; it is postulated that this is one of the mechanisms by which ginger reduces nausea and vomiting.

Top 5 Therapeutic Uses of Ginger

Let's discuss some of the most popular reasons why ginger is recommended in medicine. 

1. Ginger for Digestion

Ginger has been traditionally used for stomach and other gastrointestinal ailments. 

A 2018 review indicated that enzymes in ginger can break up and expel gas trapped in the digestive tract. This carminative effect reduces pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, preventing and treating dyspepsia (indigestion), gas, and bloating. 

Impaired gastric emptying is a well-recognized contributor to many gastrointestinal problems, such as functional dyspepsia, nausea, and bloating. As a prokinetic agent, ginger constituents have been shown to enhance intestinal motility and gastric emptying. A 4-week randomized trial testing the effects of an herbal prokinetic formula containing ginger and artichoke significantly improved digestive symptoms related to dyspepsia, including nausea, abdominal fullness and pain, and bloating. (26

Extensive research has also been performed to evaluate the efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting. It has been found to offer relief from various causes, such as motion sickness, morning sickness during pregnancy, and chemotherapy-induced nausea. Ginger is effective in treating nausea because its active compounds, notably gingerol, possess antiemetic properties by enhancing gastric tone and motility through anticholinergic and antiserotonergic actions and promoting gastric emptying. A 2016 review reports that dried ginger, followed by fresh ginger and powdered ginger tea, contains the highest concentrations of gingerol. (19)

2. Ginger and Pain Relief

Research suggests that certain constituents of ginger inhibit cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathways responsible for producing inflammatory prostaglandins. Because of this, ginger can be used as a natural anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving remedy.

Ginger for Arthritis: A 2015 meta-analysis showed that taking ginger extract 500-1,000 mg by mouth daily for 3-12 weeks can safely and modestly improve pain related to osteoarthritis of the knee and hip. Various studies have evaluated formulations containing ginger with other ingredients (such as glucosamine and curcumin), which have been shown to improve osteoarthritis pain and joint functionality. Some trials have also demonstrated the benefits of treating osteoarthritis with topical ginger preparations. For example, a 2012 randomized control trial testing Plygersic gel (containing ginger and plai extract) showed that the Plygesric gel was as effective as topical diclofenac in improving knee pain, sports activities, and quality of life after six weeks of treatment. 

Ginger for Menstrual Cramps: Clinical studies show that taking 750-2,000 mg of ginger powder daily for the first 3-4 days of a menstrual cycle modestly decreases primary dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain and cramping). Studies indicate it is as effective as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. Moreover, it can enhance the effects of pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory agents when used together adjunctively.

3. Ginger for Immunity

The results from a 2017 cross-sectional analysis including over 4,500 participants ages 18-77 years suggest that ginger can potentially prevent chronic disease and illness. While more studies are needed to confirm ginger's effects on the immune system, it is postulated that ginger may protect against illness through immunomodulating and antimicrobial effects. Studies have found ginger to be effective in fighting bacterial, fungal, and viral infections caused by Campylobacter jejuni, Candida albicans, Escherichia coli, Helicobacter pylori, human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV), Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mutans (1). This suggests ginger could effectively prevent and treat various digestive, skin, and respiratory illnesses.

Furthermore, the antioxidant qualities of ginger can neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress linked to chronic disease and cancer development. A 2015 review suggests ginger can suppress the growth and induce cell death of various cancer types, including skin, ovarian, colon, breast, cervical, oral, renal, prostate, gastric, pancreatic, liver, and brain.

4. Ginger for Heart Health

Some evidence supports that ginger may help prevent and treat cardiovascular disease. Daily ginger consumption may protect against coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and cerebrovascular disease (35).  

Chronic vascular inflammation and oxidative stress contribute to endothelial damage and the development of cardiovascular diseases. By neutralizing free radicals and inhibiting inflammatory pathways, ginger helps maintain the health of blood vessels and reduces the risk of heart-related issues. Ginger has also been linked to improving lipid profiles; taking 200-3,000 mg daily for 2-24 weeks was shown in one trial to reduce triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. 

5. Ginger for Respiratory Issues

In addition to its antimicrobial actions, as discussed above, playing a protective role against respiratory infections, such as cold and flu, data also show that ginger's 6- and 8-gingerol and 6-shagaol relax airway smooth muscle and 8-gingerol also attenuates airway hyperresponsiveness by altering calcium regulation (34). This information suggests that ginger may be an effective therapeutic option for treating airway diseases like asthma, alone or in combination with pharmaceutical therapies. 

Potential Side Effects and Considerations 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers ginger root safe when consumed up to 4 grams daily. Some sources note that with higher doses (above 4-6 grams), ginger side effects may include gastrointestinal discomfort, allergic reactions, prolonged bleeding, low blood pressure, and arrhythmia. (23)

It is always advised to consult with a healthcare provider before taking a new dietary or herbal supplement. However, people with heartburn, gallstones, heart conditions, and bleeding conditions, and those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking blood-thinning medications should take particular caution and not take ginger without talking to their doctor first. (9)

Ways to Incorporate Ginger Therapeutically

Incorporating ginger into a therapeutic regimen can be approached through various means, catering to individual preferences and health needs. One popular method is preparing ginger tea, a soothing and effective way to harness its medicinal properties. To make ginger tea, peel and slice fresh ginger root, steep it in hot water for 10-15 minutes, and then strain. This warm infusion can be sweetened with honey or flavored with lemon, providing a comforting remedy for respiratory issues, digestive problems, or even just a warming drink during colder months.

Alternatively, ginger supplements, available in capsule, tincture, and oil forms, offer a convenient and concentrated way to integrate ginger into one's daily routine. Capsules provide a measured dosage, ensuring consistency in intake, while tinctures and oils offer versatility – they can be mixed into beverages, added to cooking, or even applied topically. (9

When choosing between fresh and dried ginger, it's essential to consider their unique qualities. With its robust flavor and aroma, fresh ginger is often preferred for culinary use and making ginger tea. It contains higher levels of gingerol, the active compound responsible for many of its health benefits. On the other hand, dried ginger, often available in powdered form, is more concentrated and slightly milder in taste. It is commonly used in cooking and baking. One-quarter teaspoon of powdered ginger is roughly equivalent to one teaspoon of fresh. Both forms retain the core therapeutic properties of ginger, allowing individuals to tailor their usage based on taste preferences and specific health requirements. (36



Considering ginger's versatility and numerous medicinal health benefits, it's no wonder its use dates back to ancient traditional medicine. From its efficacy in alleviating gastrointestinal discomfort to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, ginger is an invaluable natural remedy for supporting immune, cardiovascular, digestive, and musculoskeletal functions. The best part? You may not need to look further than your kitchen pantry the next time you need a medicinal remedy. 

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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