5 Ginger Benefits and How to Add This Herb to Your Diet

Ginger is power-packed with so many health-boosting properties. This article lists the top five ginger benefits and how to add this herb to your diet.

Various forms of ginger on the table.

From spicing up dishes to boosting our health, ginger benefits us in so many ways. This humble root, which has gained a reputation as a potent superfood, has always been an essential ingredient in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic medicine. In this article, discover the five main benefits of ginger and ways to use this aromatic herb for healing.

5 Ginger Benefits that Boost Your Health

Woman slicing a piece of ginger 
Ginger is a versatile healing herb that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.

Warm and pungent in nature, ginger comprises a unique composition of nutritional properties. These include essential oils, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and phytochemicals, which contribute to our health in various ways.

“According to pharmacological studies, ginger contains many natural oils. The most bioactive one is gingerol, which is responsible for many of ginger’s medicinal properties,” says Senior TCM Physician Brandon Yew of Real Health Medical Clinic.

1. Regulating blood glucose levels

Ginger can help improve control of blood sugar levels. Several studies show that ginger plays a key role in glucose absorption in the muscles without requiring insulin, making it an excellent herb to assist with blood glucose management – especially for people with type 2 diabetes.

2. Maintaining a healthy weight

While many weight loss home remedies often include ginger, it’s more than just a health fad, as a recent study shows that ginger water can reduce weight gain by boosting lipid metabolism. Additionally, due to its distinctive nutritional profile, this herb can help with controlling body weight and preventing obesity and obesity-associated diseases.

3. Reducing inflammation and relieving pain

Gingerol, a compound in fresh ginger, has antioxidant properties which help with reducing inflammation. This makes ginger a good natural pain relief remedy, especially for menstrual cramps and arthritis. A clinical trial shows that ginger can help relieve knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis.

4. Easing nausea and improving digestion

Several scientific reports indicate that consuming ginger is safe and effective in preventing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Studies also demonstrate that it can help alleviate nausea after chemotherapy.

According to Physician Yew, ginger is a good TCM remedy for expelling exogenous wind and cold and dampness pathogens. “Ginger’s warm nature is beneficial to those with a weak and cold stomach by preventing vomiting and stimulating digestion,” Physician Yew adds.

5. Preventing serious diseases

There is also scientific evidence that ginger has the potential to treat various aspects of cardiovascular disease due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiplatelet, hypotensive, and hypolipidemic effects. In addition, numerous research groups are now examining potential cancer therapeutic applications of ginger and its various components. One of the studies reports that gingerol effectively decreases the spread of colon cancer.

Precautions and Restrictions

While ginger is a safe ingredient to consume, it is not for everyone. “As a warm herb, ginger is only suitable for people who have cold or yang (active warming energy)-deficient body constitution. Those who are yin (passive bodily fluids and cooling energy)-deficient or have an excessive yang (heaty) body constitution should refrain from taking ginger,” explains Physician Yew.  

He further advises people with weak spleeqi or weak digestive function to consume ginger with caution. “This is because ginger lacks the tonifying property to nourish and strengthen the spleen. Using it directly to stimulate digestion will further weaken the spleen qi. However, in certain cases, TCM professionals may still prescribe it in measured amounts in addition to other spleen-tonifying herbs, based on the patient’s body constitution and medical condition,” he says.  

As ginger stimulates gastric acid secretion, which will further irritate the stomach wall lining, it is not recommended for people suffering from gastric issues like stomach ulcers. Moreover, ginger contains salicylate, which has blood-thinning properties. Hence, it has to be used with care and caution for those with blood-clotting disorders and taking blood-thinning medications.

How to Consume Ginger

Woman holding a cup of tea
You can lightly boil ginger slices with water and drink it as a tea after meals.

There are many ways to consume this herb to promote healing. Here are a few recommendations by Physician Yew:  

  • Ground ginger to a fine powdery texture and seal it in a teabag. Alternatively, you can cut it into thin raw slices. Steep the powdered ginger or lightly boil the ginger slices and drink as tea. However, it’s best to take it after meals and limit intake to once a day.  
  • You can also stir-fry, boil, or stew ginger slices with other food ingredients like vegetables, meats, and seafood.  

“Generally, you can take ginger once daily. However, this is still subjected to an individual’s unique body constitution and pre-existing medical conditions,” Physician Yew says. “Therefore, consume this herb in moderation. It is best to seek professional medical guidance from TCM and Western medical practitioners.” 

You can also take ginger-based liqueur, which is usually prepared with matured fresh ginger steeped in rice wine. Suitable for adults, especially postpartum women, this cordial helps dispel wind and cold and warms the stomach. 

From alleviating nausea to helping us burn fat, ginger benefits us in so many ways. However, it is still a very potent herb, so it’s not advisable to consume it excessively. If you are unsure whether it’s safe to take ginger daily, talk to a doctor or TCM practitioner beforehand. 

References

  1. US National Library of Medicine. 2013. Food Value of Two Varieties of Ginger (Zingiber officinale)[Accessed 23 December 2021] 
  2. Cleveland Clinic. 2021. The Surprising Benefits of Ginger.  [Accessed 23 December 2021] 
  3. US National Library of Medicine. 2011. The Amazing and Mighty Ginger.  [Accessed 23 December 2021] 
  4. US National Library of Medicine. 2020. Ginger Water Reduces Body Weight Gain and Improves Energy Expenditure in Rats.  [Accessed 23 December 2021] 
  5. Diabetes.co.uk. 2019. Ginger and Diabetes.  [Accessed 23 December 2021] 

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