The Soothing Benefits of Ginger
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You may already know a little something about the health benefits of ginger.
As a kid, did you ever sip on ginger ale when you had a bellyache?
It wasn’t only the bubbles that may have calmed your tummy — the spicy ginger helped, too!
Ginger is a magical spice that’s been around for centuries.
“The list of medicinal benefits of ginger, Zingiber officinale, is long and varied,” says Dr. Heather Tynan, ND.
This relative of turmeric may help to ease nausea, quell indigestion, and keep you from losing your breakfast. Beyond your gut, ginger may have a bunch of other great benefits, and there are practically no side effects.
1. Antioxidant-like compounds
Ginger is a healthy spice.
It has antioxidant-like compounds, thanks to the same natural oils responsible for its signature spicy taste.
These oils, called gingerols, may have all sorts of health benefits, including antioxidant properties.
2. Temporary Nausea and bloating
Reach for ginger when you’re feeling queasy or gassy.
It not only could potentially soothe the smooth muscles of the digestive tract and reduce gas, but it may also help prevent temporary nausea, says Tynan.
According to researchers, ginger appears to aid common motion sickness compared with a placebo.
3. Morning sickness
Ginger may even help reduce dreaded morning sickness.
According to a 2013 research review, it may be “safe and effective” during pregnancy.
Still, Tynan does recommend taking ginger “in food form or as a tea rather than in a concentrated extract.”
More research is needed, and pregnant women should speak with a doctor before supplementing with ginger.
4. Muscle pain and soreness
If you’re in the habit of popping NSAIDs after a workout, you might want to try ginger instead.
A 2015 review in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that ingesting 2 grams of ginger per day for one to two weeks can significantly reduce exercise-induced soreness from resistance training and prolonged cardio workouts.
Researchers add that more research is needed to evaluate ginger as an analgesic for a wide range of athletic endeavors.
That finding was reflected in another study in The Journal of Pain. The researchers found that when taken regularly, ginger can help reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness the day after a tough arm workout.
5. Joint health
Both Ayurveda, the traditional medical system of India, and Traditional Chinese Medicine commonly use ginger for joint support, says Tynan.
Due to its spiciness, ginger is a “warming” herb that “alleviates joint discomfort due to cold (weather),” she says.
Studies back this traditional use: A 2016 randomized controlled clinical trial found consuming 500 mg of ginger capsules showed “promising benefits” for supporting joint health.
Since responses to supplements vary by individual, it’s best to discuss the safety and dosing with your physician. Researchers noted that more studies are needed.
Another experimental study the following year suggested massaging painful knees with ginger oil could be easy and effective.
Instead of downing antacids after you eat, swap in ginger.
“Ginger aids digestion essentially from start to finish,” says Tynan.
She adds that ginger may stimulate your appetite, might get your digestive juices flowing, and could potentially help distribute nutrients.
When your digestion feels sluggish, ginger may have the potential to take away that weighty feeling, as it may be associated with faster “gastric emptying,” says Marinaccio.
7. Menstrual cramps
Ginger may ease moderate cramps.
Tynan says that’s because the herb may help to reduce spasms of smooth muscles — like the uterus.
Taking ginger in the first 3-4 days of the menstrual cycle may have the potential to help modestly reduce pain, says Marinaccio.
Researchers concluded, “Further studies regarding the effects of ginger on other symptoms associated with dysmenorrhea and efficacy and safety of various doses and treatment durations of ginger are warranted.”
How to Take Ginger
As one of the most common dietary supplements, ginger is as versatile as it is beneficial.
The best way to take is the one “that is most convenient and palatable to you,” says Tynan.
- Nibble on slices of pickled ginger as a palate cleanser.
- Brew a cup of ginger tea after a big meal.
- Blend fresh or dried ginger into smoothies or juice.
- Grate a hunk into stir-fries and soups.
- Chew on dried ginger for a sweet treat.
- Add grated fresh ginger to your lemon water in the morning.
- Suck on a ginger lozenge when you travel.
- Take tinctures or capsules for a more potent punch.
Anytime you shop for a supplement, consider these questions: How is the supplement produced? Is it processed without harmful solvents or other additives? Is the company reputable? Do they offer proof of the tests they perform (including verification that what’s on the label is really what you’re buying)? Are they making claims that sound too good to be true? Keep in mind that supplement companies have to abide by regulatory standards for their claims, which are enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission.