Health Benefits of Ginger

Find out what the scientific research says about how ginger can improve your health.

A pungent knotted beige root, ginger adds a peppery, spicy “kick” to stir-fry dishes, candies, and even beverages. It’s also one of the most revered ancient herbal remedies. So while researchers continue to try to tease out ginger’s beneficial compounds- there are at least 115 of them- here’s what the latest science shows.

Anti-Nausea Treatment: Yes.

Solid evidence supports ginger (about one gram) as a treatment for the nausea that comes from motion sickness, pregnancy, and chemotherapy. And while it’s generally recognized as safe, talk to your doctor before taking ginger if you are pregnant, have gallstones, heart disease, diabetes, or take blood thinners. (Do not use ginger for children under the age of two.)

Osteoarthritis Treatment: Maybe.

Studies are mixed bag here. One recent report found that 261 people with osteoarthritis of the knee experienced noticeable pain relief when taking a ginger extract two times a day.  Another study concluded that ginger was no more effective at pain relief than over-the-counter meds like ibuprofen or a placebo. Bottom line: more research is needed.

Cholesterol Lowering Agent: Maybe

Preliminary studies with both animals and people find that ginger- in this case the powdered form- helps improve blood lipids. Seems it not only helps lower total cholesterol, but also “bad” or LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

Cancer Fighter: To early to tell.

Multiple studies are looking at how ginger, or its beneficial compounds, might prevent or even suppress cancers including lymphoma, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer. But so far most of the work is being done on animals and in the lab. There’s nothing concrete to report.

 

 

Maureen Callahan, MS, RD

January 2014