Ginger is a root plant that contains 6-gingerol and 8-gingerol, which are bioactive compounds with thermogenic properties. These compounds boost metabolism and fat burning, which can help to promote weight loss.
Because it is a potent anti-spasmodic, ginger helps to relax the stomach muscles that cause indigestion, nausea and vomiting. It also contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action which can help to prevent and treat diseases like high blood pressure, reflux and arthritis.
Ginger can be purchased at open markets, natural health stores and grocery stores. You can purchase it fresh, dehydrated or in powder form to use in teas, smoothies, yogurt, soup or salads. Ginger can also be found as an essential oil or in supplement capsules.
The main health benefits of ginger include:
1. Help with weight loss
Ginger contains gingerol, which is a bioactive compound with thermogenic properties. It boosts metabolism and stimulates fat burning, which promotes weight loss.
In addition, ginger is a potent diuretic that stimulates the elimination of excess fluid, which can help to relieve water retention.
2. Fight heartburn and intestinal gas
Ginger contains chogaol, gingerol and zingerone, which are bioactive compounds with anti-inflammatory, carminative and antiemetic properties. They help to relax the stomach and intestinal muscles, and decrease stomach acid, making it a great option to ward off heartburn and intestinal gas.
Check out other home remedies for heartburn that you can use to treat and prevent further episodes.
3. Prevent diabetes
Because it contains zingiberene, gingerol and curcumin (which are phenolic compounds with potent antioxidant action), ginger can help to protect pancreatic cells from free radicals. This helps to regulate insulin levels and prevent insulin resistance or diabetes.
4. Improve nausea and vomiting
Ginger contains antiemetic properties that help to empty the stomach. This can help with managing nausea and vomiting that can occur during pregnancy or chemotherapy treatment.
5. Treat and prevent gastritis and GERD
Ginger is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that helps to fight stomach inflammation. This is beneficial for the treatment of gastritis and ulcers.
In addition, ginger also has antiemetic properties, which can help with stomach emptying and prevent reflux or indigestion.
6. Prevent cancer
Due to is great quantities of zingiberene, curcumin, farnesene and gingerol (which are bioactive compounds that possess antioxidant activity), ginger can help to fight free radicals throughout the body. This helps to reduce the development and multiplication of cancerous cells.
7. Manage blood pressure
Ginger contains soothing, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, vasodilating and anticoagulant properties, which help to improve contacting and relaxing of arteries. This can promote better circulation and regulate blood pressure.
Ginger can also inhibit the enzyme the converts angiotensin, which is responsible for the contraction of blood vessels. This can prevent increases in blood pressure.
8. Fighting infections
Due to its bactericide and antimicrobial action, ginger is a great complement for the medical treatment of respiratory diseases, like the flu, cold, asthma and bronchitis.
Ginger also helps to treat mouth and throat infections, like pharyngitis, tonsillitis, periodontitis and gingivitis.
9. Relieve muscle pain
Cineol and borneal are bioactive compounds present in ginger that have a strong analgesic action that can help to relieve muscle pain.
Ginger also contains anti-inflammatory and soothing action, which can manage pain related to arthritis, rheumatism and arthrosis.
10. Prevent cardiovascular disease
Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds that prevent the formation of fatty plaques in the blood vessels. This can improve blood circulation and prevent disease like atherosclerosis, heart failure and heart attack.
In addition, the antioxidants present in ginger also eliminate excessive free radicals, which inhibit the oxidation of fat cells and help to control cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.
11. Relieve menstrual cramps
Ginger contains cineol and bornol, which are compounds with analgesic action. Consuming ginger prior to or at the start of your period can help to relieve cramps.
How to use ginger
Ginger can be used in its fresh form, dehydrated or as a powder in tea or other, more elaborate recipes for soups, smoothies, yogurt or salads. Ginger can also be used as an essential oil for massages or immersion baths.
- Ginger tea: Place 2 to 3 cm of fresh ginger in a pot with 180 ml (about 6 oz) of water and boil for 5 to 10 minutes. Other ways to prepare the tea consist of mixing 1 tablespoon of powdered ginger with 1 L of boiling water. You can also place 1 tablespoon of grated ginger in 1 cup of boiling water for 5 minutes, then strain.
- Ginger essential oil: Dilute 3 to 5 drops of essential oil in 1 vegetable-based oil (like olive oil, coconut oil or almond oil) and apply directly to the skin. You can massage in areas where you feel muscular or rheumatic pain.
Another way to use ginger essential oil is by diluting 15 drops in 3 tablespoons of milk or plant-based milk and then mixing it in a bathtub of water. You can soak in this water for 20 minutes.
Possible side effects
The excessive consumption of ginger, over 5 g per day, can cause some side effects which include stomach ache, changes to heart rate, diarrhea and drowsiness.
Contraindications for use
Ginger is not indicated for those with a history of gallbladder stones or hemorrhagic diseases. It should not be used by those who take anticoagulants, as it can increase the risk for bleeding.
People who take blood pressure or diabetes medication should use ginger under the supervision of a doctor, as it can interfere with the medication action. Inappropriate use can lead to low blood pressure and hypoglycemia.
During pregnancy, the maximum recommended dose of ginger is up to 1 g per day for a maximum of 3 consecutive days. Ginger should also not be consumed close to the due date, as it may increase the risk for bleeding.