Ginger Root Power

June 1, 2009 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

It’s part of human nature to overlook the potential of very “ordinary” things and instead seek out more exotic solutions to problems in our lives. This is very often the case in the field of natural medicine. We’re far more likely to hear about a new “superfruit” from a remote location than to read about similarly impressive features found in items available at the local supermarket. I can think of no better example of this than in the case of Zingiber Officinale, otherwise known as ginger root.

The amount of research conducted on this humble rhizome is really quite astonishing. Many us are aware of the role that ginger plays in promoting digestive health and combating nausea. (1,2) But there are a whole host of other physiological and psychological benefits of ginger that aren’t widely known. Here’s an overview of the some of the hidden promise of this magnificent tuber.

  • Allergies - A substance found in ginger, called gingerol, was recently tested in a mouse model of allergic asthma. The study utilized an “aqueous extract”, which is basically a concentrated ginger tea preparation. All the mice in the study presented symptoms of allergic asthma and were administered the ginger-water decoction. The ginger extract helped to reduce “airway inflammation” and the related immune response in this group of mice. (3) A separate study demonstrated a compounding effect when ginger extract was added to a green tea product known to possess anti-allergic properties. In that research, the combined effects of green tea and ginger were tested on volunteers who suffered from seasonal allergies to pollen. (4)
  • Dysmenorrhea - Women all over the world suffer from painful menstruation. There are a number of medications that can be used to manage these symptoms. A study in the February 2009 issue of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine indicates that ginger may be a viable alternative to these synthetic drugs. In that trial, 150 women with dysmenorrhea were divided into 3 groups and given one of three medicines: a) ginger extract; b) ibuprofen; or c) mefenamic acid. All three of the groups were asked to take their respective treatments at a dosage of 250 mg 4 times a day for three days prior to the commencement of their menstrual cycle. All three groups experienced an equal amount of pain relief. But the mechanism behind the pain reduction found with ginger may be different and possibly safer. (5) A study from way back in 1991 hints that ginger’s pain relieving action may be due to increased endorphin production, the “feel good” chemicals associated with a “runner’s high”. (6)
  • Heart Health - An April 2009 study in the journal Life Sciences reported on ginger’s effects on certain genes that control the production of cholesterol and fat accumulation in the liver. This preliminary research led the authors of the study to conclude that ginger reduces unhealthy gene expression in the liver which can lead to visceral fat build-up (fatty liver) and “hyperlipidemia” (high cholesterol and triglycerides). (7) A May 2009 review of several population studies also suggests that ginger may play a constructive role in regulating high blood pressure. (8)
  • Kidney and Liver Health - The kidneys and liver are vital players in the detoxification process. New evidence promotes the idea that ginger (along with thyme) may help protect against alcohol-induced liver damage. The concluding remarks from the study state that, “water extracts of thyme and ginger has detoxifying and antioxidant effects. Therefore, it is recommended to use them to avoid alcohol toxicity.” (9) Two other trials also demonstrate the power of ginger. The first experiment showed an improvement in the health of the kidneys and livers of mice that had suffered damage to those organs. The positive changes occurred within a 30 day period. (10) The second study found equally impressive results in shielding rats from kidney damage. The researchers suggest that a potent antioxidant effect provoked by ginger consumption may be the reason for the noted kidney protection. (11)
  • Mood Disorders - Even the brain appears to be receptive to ginger. A study that will be published in June of 2009 describes a synergistic effect between ginger and magnolia bark extracts in a mouse model of depression. Positive changes were observed when these two natural substances were provided together. (12) A related 2005 study found a dopamine-sparing effect when zingerone (a phytochemical found in ginger) was tested. (13) A lack of dopamine is associated with several key characteristics of depression such as, “learned helplessness” and lethargy (lack of energy). The November 2002 issue of Phytotherapy Research, also points to a possible anti-anxiety effect of a specific ginger root extract. (14)

How is it possible that ginger can affect all these disparate functions and symptoms in the body? Part of the answer may be explained by a study released at the end of 2008. In it, a group of Chinese researchers examined the absorption, distribution and retention of ginger after oral ingestion. They tested to see whether ginger components could be found in the brain, heart, kidneys, liver, lung, small intestine, spleen and stomach at various points after its consumption. The scientists discovered that ginger was absorbed very quickly and reached its peak concentration just 10 minutes after it was ingested. Ginger was found in all the organs tested, but the highest concentration was discovered in the gastrointestinal tract. (15) These findings support all the benefits that are commonly associated with ginger and the lesser known attributes that I reported on today.

I try to drink ginger tea on a regular basis because I find its flavor quite appealing. In fact, I often recommend adding a bag of ginger tea to other teas that may not have such an appealing taste. The aromatic properties in ginger root tend to mask unpleasant flavors that other herbs may impart. I hope you’ll give it a try and find some of the benefits noted above.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!

JP

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health

21 Comments & Updates to “Ginger Root Power”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Thanks for such an informational article based on scientific researches. I have learned many health benefits of Ginger, it’s amazing that Ginger can be helpful for so many health problems, especially some common ones but without effective medications. Your article gives me more confidence in it.

  2. JP Says:

    I very happy to know that it was of interest and benefit to you, Kevin. Thanks for letting me know! :)

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Oct Says:

    I have been taking Ginger supplements again for the past month or so. Since I’m having this increase in motion sickness due to an MS flare-up, anything I can do on my own to calm my dizzy head and woozy stomach is on my mind. I also have a box of Ginger Snaps cookies in the back of the cupboard, untouched for over a year. I don’t need to resort to those again since I add ginger to cooking at ever opportunity and have the ginger supplements. It’s nice to see so many other great benefits of ginger. Thanks JP.

  4. JP Says:

    You’re very welcome, Oct. I certainly hope the ginger will help you ride these symptoms out.

    I’m currently compiling information for a column on MS that should be posted in the coming days.

    Be well!

    JP

  5. Paul Fanton Says:

    Hi JP,

    Thank you for reminding us about the benefits of ginger root
    as a vegetable available at the market as well as a tea.
    I had experienced in the past benefit in keeping a quarter coin size ginger root sliver as a lozenge under my tongue to help me recuperate of a sore throat.
    I am always anxious to see your next healthy fellow, since I find it beneficial to me or family in many ways!
    Keep it up!
    Paul

  6. JP Says:

    Thank you, Paul! Your support is very much appreciated!

    Be well!

    JP

  7. gallstones treatment Says:

    Hi JP,
    First of all thank you very much for sharing high quality tips with a proven research.

    Now I understand why my parents during my childhood that when I am experiencing soar throat they always told me to drink “Salabat” a hot water with ginger.

  8. JP Says:

    You’re welcome.

    Your parents gave you good advice!

    Be well!

    JP

  9. MULINDWA Says:

    Thanks JP for this wonderful information,it gives confidence to farmers who want to start commercial organic ginger production

    yours

    JM

  10. JP Says:

    JM,

    Thank you. I’d love to see more organic ginger products out there!

    Be well!

    JP

  11. Kathryn Kadel Says:

    I drink organic ginger tea and organic thyme tea…I put a teabag of each in my mug…thyme tea on it’s own doesn’t have the most pleasant taste but I find the ginger really masks thyme’s flavour…I have asthma and I find that drinking this type tea combo helps with expectoration…I also drink a Four O’Clock brand Decaffienated Green Tea Chai and I always find it helps calm down any wheezing…I periodically do hard forced exhalation to see how wheezy I am and this tea always calms it…this tea has ginger root in it.

  12. JP Says:

    Thank you for sharing your success with us, Kathryn.

    Both ginger and thyme make sense to me re: asthma. There’s even some preliminary evidence to support these herbal remedies in the medical literature:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1567576908002270

    https://www.thieme-connect.com/DOI/DOI?10.1055/s-2008-1081349

    Be well!

    JP

  13. Dharini Says:

    I have a mild case of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis – with balance as one of the recurring symptoms – I waited for a month for the symptom to abate this time around – then started drinking Ginger tea with lime and honey and within a few days regained my full balance – now ginger tea is going to be for life:)

  14. JP Says:

    Hi, Dharini.

    That’s wonderful news. I wish you continued success and wellness!

    You might find the MS section of this study to be of interest (linked below). In it, they mention the potential of curcumin. And, as you may already know, curcumin (contained in turmeric) is a member of the ginger family.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3183139/?tool=pubmed

    Be well!

    JP

  15. esi rocks Says:

    Dear JP,
    thank you for the information. it really is very helpful. i have had an addiction of just popping dry stuff into my mouth and swallowing them before it got moist. i used to do that with dry chocolate drink poweder, coffee granules, ground dry biscuits and others. is it safe to do that with the ginger powder knowing that that is more beneficial? help !!!!!

    CR

  16. JP Says:

    CR,

    I really can’t say for certain. This is a circumstance I’ve never encountered before! I can’t image that ginger powder would be any more difficult to swallow than what you’ve mentioned above. However, please note that most powdered ginger can be quite strong tasting – much more pungent than candied ginger. So, please proceed with caution and at your own discretion.

    Be well!

    JP

  17. esi rocks Says:

    Thanks a million for your article. i am an african woman and am 46 years old. i suspect that my hormones have gone whack because oof certain wierd appetites i have for certain things especially pouring powdery stuff down my throat. i therefore resorted to oven dried fresh ginger ground into smooth powder. after the heat has settled, i get a feeling of fullness and an open chest through which i can breath freely. i prefer that too chewing dry chocolate powder, bitter cocoa powder or any dry edible stuff. i realised that i have began to spot a little 2 weeks b4 my regular menses. is it because of ginger’s ability to let the uterus contract? i have fibroids as well. Any good additional advise would really help!!! thank you once again. char

  18. amber Says:

    Ginger root capsules have COMPLETELY cured my nausea! Iam 6 weeks pregnant and feel back to my normal self + lots more motivation & energy! LOVE it! Would recommend to anyone.

  19. JP Says:

    Update: The benefits of ginger in type 2 diabetics …

    http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/jcim.ahead-of-print/jcim-2014-0021/jcim-2014-0021.xml

    J Complement Integr Med. 2015 Feb 10.

    The effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on glycemic markers in patients with type 2 diabetes.

    Background: Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is one of the functional foods which contains biological compounds including gingerol, shogaol, paradol and zingerone. Ginger has been proposed to have anti-cancer, anti-thrombotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, hypolipidemic and analgesic properties. Here, we report the effect of ginger supplementation on glycemic indices in Iranian patients with type 2 diabetes.

    Methods: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial was conducted on 20-60 -year-old patients with type 2 diabetes who did not receive insulin. Participants in the intervention and control groups were received 3 g of powdered ginger or placebo (lactose) (in capsules) daily for 3 months. Glycemic indices, total antioxidant capacity (TAC), malondialdehyde (MDA), C-reactive protein (CRP), serum paraoxonase, dietary intake and physical activity were measured at the beginning and end of the study, and after 12 h fasting.

    Results: Comparison of the indices after 3 months showed that the differences between the ginger and placebo groups were statistically significant as follows: serum glucose (-19.41 ± 18.83 vs 1.63 ± 4.28 mg/dL, p < 0.001), HbA1c percentage (-0.77 ± 0.88 vs 0.02 ± 0.16 %, p < 0.001), insulin (-1.46 ± 1.7 vs 0.09 ± 0.34 μIU/mL, p < 0.001), insulin resistance (-16.38 ± 19.2 vs 0.68 ± 2.7, p < 0.001), high-sensitive CRP (-2.78 ± 4.07 vs 0.2 ± 0.77 mg/L, p < 0.001), paraoxonase-1 (PON-1) (22.04 ± 24.53 vs 1.71 ± 2.72 U/L, p < 0.006), TAC (0.78 ± 0.71 vs -0.04 ± 0.29 µIU/mL, p < 0.01) and MDA (-0.85 ± 1.08 vs 0.06 ± 0.08 µmol/L, p < 0.001) were significantly different.

    Conclusions: This report shows that the 3 months supplementation of ginger improved glycemic indices, TAC and PON-1 activity in patients with type 2 diabetes.

    Be well!

    JP

  20. JP Says:

    Update 04/17/15:

    https://www.thieme-connect.com/DOI/DOI?10.1055/s-0035-1545345

    Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 14 April 2015

    Curcumin Attenuates Urinary Excretion of Albumin in Type II Diabetic Patients with Enhancing Nuclear Factor Erythroid-Derived 2-Like 2 (Nrf2) System and Repressing Inflammatory Signaling Efficacies

    Curcumin has a therapeutic potential in treating diabetic kidney disease (DKD) while potential mechanisms underlining this beneficial effect remain to be elucidated. In the present study, curcumin intervention was performed in patients with Type II diabetes mellitus (T2DM) by oral intake of curcumin at the dose of 500 mg/day for a period of 15–30 days. Nephritic excretion of urinary micro-albumin (U-mAlb) and blood metabolic indexes were assessed before and after this intervention. In addition, the lipid oxidation index, malondialdehyde (MDA) in plasma and the status of anti-oxidative Nrf2 system in blood lymphocytes were measured. The effect of curcumin on inflammation was assessed by measuring plasma lipopolysaccharide (LPS) content and inflammatory signaling protein in blood lymphocytes. A self-comparison method was used for assessing statistical significances of these measurements. Here we show that curcumin intervention markedly attenuated U-mAlb excretion without affecting metabolic control of participated patients. In addition, curcumin reduced plasma MDA level with enhanced the Nrf2 system specifically regulated protein, NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO-1) together with other anti-oxidative enzymes in patients’ blood lymphocytes. Furthermore, we observed reduced plasma LPS content and increased IκB, an inhibitory protein on inflammatory signaling in patient’s lymphocytes after curcumin administration. Finally, several gut bacterials important for maintaining gut barrier integrity and function were upregulated by curcumin.

    In conclusion, short-term curcumin intervention ablates DKD progress with activating Nrf2 anti-oxidative system and anti-inflammatory efficacies in patients with T2DM.

    Be well!

    JP

  21. JP Says:

    Updated 09/30/16:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27679829

    Int J Reprod Biomed (Yazd). 2016 Aug;14(8):533-40.

    The influence of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on human sperm quality and DNA fragmentation: A double-blind randomized clinical trial.

    BACKGROUND: Although the effectiveness of ginger as an antioxidant agent has been exploited, little human research has been conducted on its activity on male reproductive functions.

    OBJECTIVE: This study was designed to investigate the effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on sperm DNA fragmentation (SDF) in infertile men.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: This randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with a 1:1 allocation was performed on 100 infertility treatment candidates who were admitted to Royan Institute for Reproductive Biomedicine, Tehran, Iran. Patients were randomly assigned to receive one of two treatments: ginger and placebo. Patients were given a 3-month oral treatment (members received capsules containing 250 mg of ginger powder twice a day in ginger and a placebo in other group). Before and after treatment, standardized semen samples were obtained to determine sperm concentration, motility, and SDF according to World Health Organization.

    RESULTS: There was no significant difference between two groups regarding SDF at baseline (53.48. 95%CI: 37.95-69.02) in cases and (56.75, 95%CI: 40.01-73.5) in controls. The average positive percentage of SDF in patients receiving ginger (17.77, 95%CI: 6.16-29.39) was lower compared with placebo (40.54, 95%CI: 23.94-57.13) after three month of treatment (p=0.02). In multivariate analysis, SDF was significantly lower in patients receiving ginger compared with placebo (mean difference: 3.21, 95%CI: 0.78-5.63, p=0.009). There were no significant differences between two groups regarding to semen parameters.

    CONCLUSION: The present study has demonstrated that ginger in a controlled study of efficacy was effective in decreasing SDF in infertile men.

    Be well!

    JP

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