Ginger, known as Zingiber officinale scientifically, is the underground rhizome of the ginger plant. It is used as a spice in cooking and has an aromatic and pungent taste. Since by itself, ginger has a strong and biting flavor, it is mixed with apple juice, lemon juice, pineapple juice, or carrot juice to create a tasty and healthy concoction. A teaspoonful of fresh ginger juice is potent enough to show benefits.
Scientists have found that ginger has anti-coagulant properties, as evidenced by studies published in “Thrombosis Research” in 2003. Gingerol, an active component of ginger, has been found to be a more potent anti-coagulant than aspirin. Ginger causes platelets to become less sticky. This, in turn, prevents atherosclerosis.
This mode of action of ginger is also related to its effect of reducing plasma cholesterol levels and preventing the oxidation of low density lipoprotein. A study conducted in Kuwait that was published in 2002 in “Prostaglandins, Leukotrines and Essential Fatty Acids” showed that ginger reduced the production of thromboxane, which is a substance made by platelets to cause blood clotting and constriction of blood vessels.
A mixture of ginger juice, hot water, and raw honey acts as a natural aphrodisiac and increases sexual power. It increases sensitivity in the erogenous zones by increasing the circulation of blood. Ginger is said to rejuvenate the reproductive organs and cure infertility and impotence caused due to the lack of vitality and warmth in the body.
The anti-inflammatory effects of ginger are well documented in Ayurvedic treatises. A study published in the Journal of Pain describes the effect of ginger in reducing pain and inflammation in muscles. Raw ginger and heated ginger were found to have similar effectiveness.
A study published in the journal Fitoterapia in 2010 noted that ginger was necessary for the treatment of inflammations.
In another study conducted by Dr. Krishna C. Srivastava at Odense University, Denmark, it was found that ginger had the capability to reduce pain, swelling, and stiffness of joints in the morning of patients with arthritis. He also discovered that ginger was more effective than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs like Advil or Tylenol. This was because NSAIDs only blocked the formation of inflammatory compounds like prostaglandins and leukotrienes, whereas ginger blocked the formation of these compounds as well reduced inflammation and acidity already present in the joints.
Yet another study published in 2005 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that ginger suppressed pro-inflammatory substances like cytokines and chemokines that were produced by synoviocytes, chondrocytes, and leukocytes.
6-gingerol suppresses the synthesis of prostaglandins by inhibiting the formation of cyclooxygenase-1 and cyclooxygenase-2. In addition, it suppresses the synthesis of leukotrienes by inhibiting 5-lipoxygenase. It also has an anti-oxidant action as it inhibits the formation of nitric oxide that causes a free radical called peroxynitrite. Ginger can provide relief in inflammatory conditions such as gout, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
4. Relieves morning sickness and motion sickness
Ginger is known to reduce nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. It has proved to be useful even in cases of hyperemesis gravidum, a severe form of vomiting that usually requires hospitalization. A study published in 2005 in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology confirms this action of ginger. While anti-vomiting drugs may cause severe birth defects or side effects, the intake of ginger during pregnancy is completely safe.
Ginger is also effective in preventing motion sickness, especially sea sickness. It reduces dizziness, vomiting, nausea, and cold sweating. It has even been found to be superior to the commonly used anti-emetic drug, Dramamine.
Additionally, ginger reduces nausea and vomiting during the first 24 hours following surgery if a gram of it is taken an hour before surgery. However, taking ginger may not be able to prevent nausea in the 3-6 hours after surgery.
5. Relieves headaches and migraine
Ginger juice can relieve headaches when applied to the forehead. It can also relieve a toothache when applied to the cheek or the jaw.
In a study conducted at Cinvest Inc. Headache Care Center in 2005, it was found that ginger was effective in relieving migraine. Published in The Medical Science Monitor, it reported that taking ginger helped reduce the severity and duration of pain.
In a different study reported in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face pain in 2011, a combination of ginger and feverfew was found to be effective for patients who had a minor headache before a migraine episode if they took it at the onset of the minor headache.
Another study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2013 reported that the efficacy of ginger treatment for migraine relief was similar to the efficacy of common migraine remedies.
6. Digestive disorder
Ginger promotes the expelling of intestinal gas (carminative) and relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract (intestinal spasmolytic). To relieve heartburn and indigestion after a heavy meal, ginger juice has no equal. According to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, ginger stimulates the breakdown of food particles and helps the digestive tract by toning the muscles of the intestine. This is how ginger soothes gas pains and digests fats.
7. Boosts immunity
Ginger promotes healthy sweating that encourages detoxification and relieves colds and flu. It has antimicrobial action that acts even on Salmonella. Thus, it works as an antiseptic, both internally as well as externally. Ginger contains a substance called Zingibain that dissolves parasites as well as their eggs.
A study presented at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research in 2003 suggested that gingerol inhibits the growth of human colorectal cancer cells.
Dr. Rebecca Lui and her team presented another study at the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer that reported the effect of gingerol in eliminating ovarian cancer cells by apoptosis or programmed cell death, in which cancer cells destroy themselves while leaving the surrounding healthy cells unharmed, and auto phagocytosis or self-digestion, wherein cancer cells are tricked into eating themselves.
Ginger has also been shown to inhibit 5-lipoxygenase enzymes that are essential for the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Owen Dore is a blogger for Molegone – skin moles removal who gives best remedies to remove unwanted moles. She loves to blog on skin care, beauty and health related blog. In her free time she used to read new research in skin care and beauty.