Ginger is one of the best researched and most often used supplement as a spice, natural preventative. and natural therapy worldwide (along with a myriad of other uses). Ginger has been used for thousands of years for the treatment of numerous ailments, such as colds, nausea, arthritis, migraines, and hypertension.
It has many names worldwide:
African Ginger, Amomum Zingiber, Ardraka, Black Ginger, Cochin Ginger, Gan Jiang, Gingembre, Gingembre Africain, Gingembre Cochin, Gingembre Indien, Gingembre Jamaïquain, Gingembre Noir, Ginger Essential Oil, Ginger Root, Huile Essentielle de Gingembre, Imber, Indian Ginger, Jamaica Ginger, Jengibre, Jiang, Kankyo, Kanshokyo, Nagara, Race Ginger, Racine de Gingembre, Rhizoma Zingiberi, Rhizoma Zingiberis, Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens, Shen Jiang, Sheng Jiang, Shoga, Shokyo, Shunthi, Srungavera, Sunth, Sunthi, Vishvabheshaja, Zingiber Officinale, Zingiberis Rhizoma, Zingiberis Siccatum Rhizoma, Zinzeberis, Zinziber Officinale, Zinziber Officinalis.
Its many mechanisms of action have been widely researched, making it one of the best referenced natural therapies. It seems that its diverse applications grow every month. This is one supplement that you do not want to miss so, I have entitled this post, “Amazing Ginger Secrets.”
The History Of Ginger
Ginger does not grow in the wild so it ranks as one of the oldest domesticated crops known to civilization. It is believed to have originated in China and India. Actual documentary evidence of its use as a medicinal tonic dates back over 5000 years.
The biology for optimal growth of ginger favors warm tropical areas of the world. India is presently the largest producer of ginger worldwide. It was introduced to Europe over 2000 years ago by way of the Roman Empire expanding its trade with India.
Queen Elizabeth I of England is credited with popularizing ginger by creating the well known Christmas treat…the “Gingerbread Man.” But, the usage of ginger goes well beyond its confectionery applications.
The Biochemistry Of Ginger
Ginger can be used in many forms. These include the freshly cut root, dried, pickled, preserved, crystallized, candied, and ground. It has a peppery and slightly sweet taste. The aroma of ginger is strong and spicy.
It is the concentration of essential oils in ginger that dictate its special properties. These oils increase as ginger ages. The intended use of the root is determined by the time it was harvested in its growth cycle.
There are at least 115 different compounds that have been identified in ginger. The most medicinally important of these are 14 bioactive compounds: -gingerol, -gingerol, -gingerol, -gingerol, -paradol, -shogaol, -shogaol, 1-dehydro--gingerdione, -gingerdione, hexahydrocurcumin, tetrahydrocurcumin, gingerenone A, 1,7-bis-(4′ hydroxyl-3′ methoxyphenyl)-5-methoxyhepthan-3-one, and methoxy--gingerol.
The concentrations of these various compounds in any ginger product can vary widely. It depends on the country of origin, commercial processor, and whether the ginger is fresh, dried, or processed. There is presently little standardization of what is contained in any given ginger product (which is true of much of the field of Complementary and Alternative Medicine – click here to see my recent post on this topic).
Studies On Ginger
Oxidative stress is associated with numerous diseases. Ginger has been reported to decrease age-related oxidative stress markers (Topic et al. 2002). This mechanism explains the health benefits of ginger as associated with its antioxidant properties.
Ginger also has the ability to decrease inflammation, swelling, and pain. The dichloromethane extract of ginger was shown to be effective in preventing both joint inflammation and destruction in a study done not long ago (Funk et al. 2009). The anti-inflammatory effects of ginger may be related to its ability to inhibit prostaglandin and leukotriene biosynthesis (Srivastava and Mustafa 1992).
The most well-established use of ginger is its utilization in diminishing symptoms of nausea and vomiting. The exact mechanism is not clear but it may be the inhibition of serotonin receptors that work directly on the gastrointestinal system and in the central nervous system (DerMarderosian and Beutler 2006). Several clinical trials wtih pregnant women have shown that ginger consumption is safe in helping to prevent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (Portnoi et al. 2003; Willetts, Ekangaki, and Eden 2003).
Ginger may also have cancer-preventative applications, potential cancer therapeutic applications, and a protective role in cardiovascular disease. There are numerous studies that are ongoing in this exciting area of research examining the wide range of therapies that may be derived from ginger.
The Therapeutic Effects Of Ginger
The following is the most up to date rendering for the therapeutic applications of ginger:
- The nausea and vomiting associated with HIV treatment
- Menstrual cramps
- The “Morning Sickness of Pregnancy”
- The nausea associated with surgery
- Motion sickness
- Sea sickness
Insufficient Evidence of Benefit
- Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome
- In the treatment of various cancers
- Diabetes Mellitius
- Nausea induced by chemotherapy
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Alcohol hangover
- High cholesterol
- Insect bites
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Migraine Headaches
- Muscle pain after exercise
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Platelet aggregation and clot formation
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Weight loss
- Bacterial infection of the intestine (Cholera).
- Discontinuing use of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
- Loss of appetite/anorexia
- Common cold
Though this is only a partial listing, it constitutes the most well documented evidence of the indications for the therapeutic use of ginger. In the next section we will review the most effective dosing regimens for a variety of conditions.
The Most Effective Doses Of Ginger
For nausea and vomiting caused by HIV/AIDS treatment: 1 gram of ginger daily in two divided doses 30 minutes before each antiretroviral treatment for 14 days has been used to effectively diminish symptoms.
For painful menstrual periods: 250 mg of a specific ginger extract (Zintoma, Goldaru) four times daily for 3 days from the start of the menstrual period has been used effectively. Also, 1500 mg of ginger powder daily in up to three divided doses, starting up to two days before menstruation and continuing for the first 3 days of the menstruation cycle, has been used.
For morning sickness: 500 to 2500 mg of ginger daily in two to four divided doses for 3 days to 3 weeks has been used.
For osteoarthritis: Many different ginger extract products have been used in studies. The dosing used differs depending on the product taken. One ginger extract (Eurovita Extract 33; EV ext-33) 170 mg three times daily has been used. Another extract (Eurovita Extract 77; EV ext-77), which combines a ginger with an alpinia, 255 mg twice daily has also been used. Another ginger extract (Zintona EC) 250 mg four times daily has also been used. Also, a ginger extract (Eurovita Extract 35; EV ext-35) 340 mg daily in combination with 1000 mg of glucosamine daily for 4 weeks has been used.
For nausea and vomiting after surgery: 1-2 grams of powdered ginger root 30-60 minutes before induction of anesthesia has been used. Sometimes 1 gram of ginger is also given two hours after surgery.
For dizziness (vertigo): 1 gram of ginger powder as a single dose one hour before causing dizziness has been used effectively.
The Side Effects And Potential Drug Interactions Of Ginger
The general side effects of ginger are few. Minor complaints of heartburn, stomach ache, diarrhea, and excessive menstrual bleeding have been reported.
Taking ginger during pregnancy is probably safe (there have been no increases in fetal abnormalities reported using ginger during pregnancy).
There is no reported data on using ginger while nursing. It is recommended to not use ginger while nursing.
The following medication precautions have been advised when considering the therapeutic use of ginger:
- Exercise caution using ginger therapeutically in people who are are any substance that may impair clotting or in people who have impaired clotting. Ginger may reduce coagulation.
- Exercise caution using ginger therapeutically in people who are on Diabetic medicines. Ginger may enhance the blood sugar lowering effect of such medicines.
- Exercise caution using ginger therapeutically in people who are on anti-hypertensive medication. Ginger may cause blood pressure to be lowered excessively. This is particularly advised in people who are on the class of anti-hypertensive medications known as Calcium Channel Blockers.
I have reviewed the history, biochemistry, research data, indications, dosing, side effects, and potential drug interactions with ginger. Overall, ginger is a safe natural therapy that has a variety of conditions that it can be used to treat.
You may consider ginger as therapy if you have one of the recognized indications for its use and no conditions that would preclude its safe use. As always, I recommend the use of any therapy to be under the supervision of a licensed medical practitioner.
I hope you have enjoyed this article about amazing ginger secrets. If you have any further questions, please comment. I would love to hear from you and will respond to you promptly.
Wishing you joy and healing.