Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been used as a spice and medicine for over 200 years. Ginger along with her sibling Turmeric are proud members of the Zingiberaceae family and are thought to have originated in tropical Asia. It is an important plant with several medicinal, and nutritional values. Ginger is packed with nutrients like Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin C and bioactive compounds such as Flavonoids and phenolic elements (gingerdiol, gingerol, gingerdione and shogaols). The usefulness of this wonder drug is the result of all the essential nutrients and bioactive compounds contained in it (1).
What Makes Ginger So Beneficial?
Several researches have shown it to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-clotting and analgesic properties.
Ginger has been known to show a variety of powerful therapeutic and preventive effects and has been used for thousands of years for the treatment of hundreds of ailments from colds to cancer (1,2,3).
But wait, that’s not it.
Ginger has been found to be beneficial for nearly all of the systemic disorders and here’s all you need to know about it.
- Respiratory system
If your respiratory system is damaged because of chronic illness, a serious condition, you will live a life weighed down with breathing issues. If you have an infection related to the respiratory system, do something to treat it as soon as possible; otherwise it could spread to other parts of your body. Ginger and its bioactive compounds help in treating inflammation associated with respiratory conditions and makes breathing easier by relaxing the airway muscles (4).
- Immune system
The immune system includes organs and processes of the body that provide resistance to infection and toxins. Inflammation and oxidative stress often cause build up of toxins in the body which leads to a compromised immune system. Due to its strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects , ginger may boost immune health (5).
- Gastrointestinal system
The gastrointestinal system consists of the gastrointestinal tract and the gastrointestinal glands. The gastrointestinal tract is essentially a tube divided into several segments: the oral cavity, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, rectum, and anus. Ginger as an important dietary agent which possesses a carminative effect, decreases pressure on lower esophageal sphincter, reduces intestinal cramping, and prevents dyspepsia, flatulence, and bloating. In a study titled Ginger in gastrointestinal disorders: A systematic review of clinical trials, ginger extracts have been found to be effective in lowering nausea, vomiting as well as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroenteritis.
- Reproductive system
The reproductive system or genital system is a system of sex organs work together for the purpose of sexual reproduction. According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer happens to be the deadliest cancer of the female reproductive system. Ginger has the power to fight and kill ovarian cancer cells, therefore making it of high importance for every woman to include it in her daily diet (6).
- Musculoskeletal system
The musculoskeletal system provides form, support, stability, and movement to the body. It is made up of the bones of the skeleton, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints, and other connective tissue that supports and binds tissues and organs together. A University of Miami study compared the effects of a highly concentrated ginger extract to placebo in 247 patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee (OA is wearing down the protective tissue at the end of bones resulting in joint pain). Ginger reduced pain and stiffness in knee joints by 40 percent over the placebo. The study concluded that ginger extract could one day be a substitute to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Nervous system
The nervous system contains complex webs of connections between nerve cells that allow it to generate patterns of activity. One of ginger’s most widely regarded uses is as an anti-inflammatory which makes it popular for arthritis.
Many investigations have revealed that ginger positively affects memory function and shows anti-neuroinflammatory activity, which might contribute to the management and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (4).
The suggested serving size of Ginger is 250mg to 4.8g per day and is used in numerous forms, including fresh, dried, pickled, preserved, crystallized, and powdered or ground (7).
Apart from the systemic benefits, Ginger is used as a cooking spice, condiment and it is also extensively consumed as a flavouring agent worldwide. It would not be wrong if we call Ginger as the Elixir of life.
Here are a couple of recipes from Thrive to bring in the healing power of ginger in your daily lives
- Ginger water
Fresh ginger, water, 1-2 ice cubes (optional)
Method of preparation-
-Grate 1 inch of fresh ginger in 1 liter water.
-Refrigerate or add 1-2 ice cubes to it and sip throughout the day.
- Ginger lemon tea
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 lemon wedge
1 cup water
Method of preparation-
-Boil a cup of water in a container.
-Add the grated ginger and squeeze lemon in a cup.
-Once boiled, add the water to the cup and stir it with a spoon.
-Let the lemon and ginger steep for 2-3 minutes. Strain it before serving.
- Mohamad Hesam Shahrajabian, Wenli Sun & Qi Cheng (2019): Clinical aspects and health benefits of ginger (Zingiberofficinale) in both traditional Chinese medicine and modern industry, Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B — Soil & Plant Science, DOI: 10.1080/09064710.2019.1606930
- Masood Sadiq Butt & M. Tauseef Sultan (2011): Ginger and its Health Claims: Molecular Aspects, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 51:5, 383-393
- Nikkhah Bodagh, M., Maleki, I., & Hekmatdoost, A. (2018). Ginger in gastrointestinal disorders: A systematic review of clinical trials. Food science & nutrition, 7(1), 96–108.