The Health Benefits of Ginger

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Introduction

Ginger root is one of the most commonly used spices in the world, it is a staple of many Asian cuisines, particularly Indian and Chinese. But it is not just in cooking that ginger excels itself, it has been used in both traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. In this article we will explore the many health benefits associated with ginger root.

1. Ginger May Boost Testosterone & Help Infertile Men

Low testosterone and infertility in men are commonly associated with each other. Many men have no idea that they are infertile until they begin trying for a baby. Luckily, there are many different ways to treat infertility and to boost testosterone. Consuming ginger supplements may be one of the more effective ways.

A 2012 study in Tikrit Medical Journal looked at the effect of ginger supplementation on testosterone, sperm motility, sperm count, sperm quality, and ejaculate volume [1]. The study found that an undisclosed amount of ginger per day (for between one and six months) led to a 17.7% increase in testosterone, a 47% increase in sperm motility, a 16% increase in sperm count, and a 36% increase in ejaculate volume.

It should be stressed that these results have only been found in infertile men, a fertile man would almost certainly see no increase in testosterone or fertility. Still, for an infertile man, ginger supplementation could make a huge difference.

2. Ginger Can Treat Indigestion

While scientists are not 100% what exactly it is that causes indigestion, the current theory is that slow or delayed emptying of the stomach is the leading cause. By increasing the speed that the stomach empties, ginger is able to treat chronic indigestion. A 2011 study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that ginger “stimulated gastric emptying” and led to the stomach emptying a lot quicker than normal in people with long-term indigestion problems [2].

3. Ginger May Help To Reduce Period Pains

Period pain, also known as dysmenorrhea or menstrual cramps is a common issue that affects many women. A 2009 study in the Journal of Alternative & Complimentary Medicine compared ginger, Mefenamic acid (a commonly prescribed drug for period pain) and ibuprofen to see how each affected period pain [3]. Interestingly, the study found that ginger was just as effective as the two other treatments.

A similar study in 2014 combined ginger with zinc sulfate to study the effect they had on dysmenorrhea. They found that “compared to the placebo receiving group, participants receiving ginger and zinc sulfate more alleviation of pain during the intervention [4].

A 2015 meta-analysis of 29 articles on dysmenorrhea and ginger by Daily et al found that taking 750-2000mg of ginger during the first four days of the menstrual cycle is an effective way to reduce the severity of period pain [5].

It seems pretty clear that ginger is an excellent choice for anyone suffering from period pain, it works just as well as traditional medication, and

4. Ginger May Reduce Nausea

There are many common causes for nausea, most studies focus on causes of nausea that can be foreseen: morning sickness during pregnancy, vertigo, seasickness, travel sickness. Obviously, a scientific study can’t just wait for someone to randomly become nauseated, so you are unlikely to see studies based on that. But you can assume that random nausea could also be improved by ginger.

There is a lot of evidence that ginger can decrease the symptoms of nausea, particularly when it comes to morning sickness. A 2005 study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology analyzed the results of six double-blind studies (involving 675 participants) [6]. The researchers found that ginger was effective at reducing nausea and vomiting while also producing no side-effects that could negatively affect pregnancy outcomes.

A 2009 study by Ozgoli, Goli, and Simbar looked at the effect of ginger capsules on nausea and vomiting during pregnancy [7]. The study noted a significant decrease in vomiting among ginger users compared to the women taking a placebo.

A study published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia (2000) found that ginger can help to reduce nausea and vomiting from morning sickness, seasickness, and from chemotherapy [8]. There definitely appears to be sufficient evidence to say with confidence that ginger can help reduce nausea and vomiting.

5. Ginger Reduces Appetite

Unlike the previous entries, there is not a lot of research on this. However, a study in 2012 took a look at the effect that ginger had on weight loss [9]. In the study, they found that taking a glass of water with 2g of ginger dissolved in it led to a reduction in hunger, a reduction in food intake, and increased fullness after the meal. This could all contribute to a reduction in calories consumed each day.

6. Ginger Can Lower The Risk Of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is a form of cancer that is affected by inflammation [10]. Eicosanoids are lipids that have many functions, but when they become chronically inflamed, they can lead to colorectal cancer. A 2011 study looked at the effect that ginger has on eicosanoids in people who were at normal risk of colon cancer [11]. The study found that taking 2g of ginger per day for 28 days led to a reduction in eicosanoids that were likely to become inflamed, therefore reducing the risk of colon cancer.

7. Prevents May Help Cognitive Decline (Alzheimer’s)

There are many nootropics out there, each looking to boost brain function. Almost no supplement company is including ginger in their products though; this may be a mistake as there is some evidence that ginger may help to enhance cognition and improve memory.

A 2012 study looked at the effect of ginger supplementation on cognitive function in middle-aged women [12]. The study found that ginger supplementation did indeed lead to an improvement in cognition and in working memory.

A 2014 study looked into the effect that ginger had on Alzheimer’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that accounts for around 70% of all dementia cases [13]. It found it to be a potentially effective way to slow down the progress of the disease and potentially treat it. More research is required, but it appears to do this by reducing inflammation. Which brings us on to our next benefit.

8. Ginger Reduces Inflammation

There is a lot of evidence that ginger can reduce inflammation, in fact many of the benefits in this article are down to this effect. Ginger can reduce the risk of colon cancer by reducing inflammation, it can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease by lowering inflammation, and it may help treat osteoarthritis and reduce muscle soreness (two benefits to come) by reducing inflammation.

9. Ginger Can Help Treat Osteoarthritis

There are several studies that indicate that ginger is effective at treating osteoarthritis and lowering the amount of pain associated with it. Most studies have compared ginger to aspirin, a common treatment for pain. While ginger has been shown to be more effective than a placebo [14][15], it is often similar or slightly less effective than the aspirin.

What does this mean? Well, if you are choosing between the two then go for aspirin as it is marginally more effective. However, if you don’t want to take aspirin then ginger supplementation is an effective replacement.

10. Ginger Can Reduce Muscle Soreness

A 2010 study by Black et al looked at the effect of ginger supplementation on muscle soreness caused by eccentric exercise [16]. If you have heard of eccentric exercise, then you are probably aware that it is famously the most muscle-soreness inducing form of exercise. The study found that ginger was significantly more effective than a placebo at reducing muscle soreness.

Muscle soreness is often caused by inflammation, so as ginger can help reduce inflammation it makes sense that it would be effective in this situation.

11. Ginger Lowers Cholesterol

Cholesterol is made up of good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, good cholesterol is known as High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and a diet high in this form of cholesterol is considered healthy. Bad cholesterol is known as Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and this is the type of cholesterol that can lead to atherosclerosis, strokes, and heart attacks. HDL cholesterol can actually help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol.

A 2008 study published in the Saudi Medical Journal looked at the effect of ginger on lipid levels in patients with high blood triglyceride levels [17]. The study found that ginger was able to increase HDL (good) cholesterol, reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and reduce overall cholesterol levels. Ginger appears to be effective at lowering total cholesterol by increasing good and removing bad cholesterol.

Conclusion

Ginger has always been a popular ingredient in cooking, and it should also be seen as a very healthy ingredient too. It can help with lowering cholesterol, reducing inflammation (and the many benefits associated with this), lowering the risk of colon cancer, helping to fight against Alzheimer’s, lessening period pain, lowering your appetite, and treating indigestion. A very helpful ingredient indeed.

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Fact Checked


This article has been reviewed and fact-checked by a certified nutritionist, and only uses information from credible academic sources.