11 Proven and Possible Health Benefits of Ginger
A 2016 review explains that the component gingerol may help with digestion, pain, and some chronic diseases. Another helpful component, shogaols, give ginger its zing. The same review says that the compounds in ginger have also shown antitumor, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.
If you want to add more gingerol to your nutrition, fresh ginger is the most potent source. However, you can also get gingerol in capsules, powder, and other forms. Although gingerol has few side effects, you should always check with your doctor before starting any supplement.
Here are some of the health benefits of ginger that experts have documented or are continuing to study.
Some brain disorders may be related to chronic inflammation in the brain. Therefore, ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties could help slow the progression of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. It may help lessen inflammation and degeneration in the brain.
Ginger could also help you maintain more healthy brain cells, or neurons. A study of 60 middle-aged women in Thailand finds that ginger improves working memory, attention, and reaction time.
For centuries, people have used ginger to soothe upset stomachs. Some people have found that ginger helps ease nausea caused by morning sickness, chemotherapy, and anesthesia. It can also help ease symptoms of some gastrointestinal (GI) conditions.
In laboratory trials, researchers note that gingerol may calm the stomach by blocking serotonin receptors in the stomach lining. It also helps the body digest food more quickly, which can help an upset stomach.
Early research shows that ginger can tackle bacteria in the gut, mouth, and respiratory system. Therefore, it could help fight food poisoning due to Escherichia coli. It may be useful for problems of the teeth and gums due to bacterial overgrowth, like gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Ginger triggers a specific enzyme that helps monitor and control cholesterol levels by increasing how much your body uses. In a study of 60 people in Pakistan, participants who took 5 grams (g) of ginger powder a day for 3 months showed weight loss and lower LDL levels.
Inflammation is behind many types of acute or chronic pain, including musculoskeletal pain and arthritis. A 2014 review of various studies of ginger found that it reduced pain and increased function in people with osteoarthritis.
There is some laboratory evidence that ginger suppresses the formation of new blood vessels essential to tumor formation. It may even stop cancerous cells from reproducing.
Recent research has found that ginger may help prevent or suppress growth in colorectal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, lymphoma, and melanoma, the more deadly form of skin cancer. More human studies need to be done to confirm these findings.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties that target the cause of period cramps, and it may be as or more effective than over-the-counter remedies.
A 2008 study of women in Iran finds that ginger helps relieve period cramps. Participants took a 500-milligram capsule of ginger powder for 5 days, and they noted significantly less pain. Ginger can also be easier on your GI system than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat period-related digestive symptoms.
Ginger can increase serotonin levels, which is the mechanism that some migraine medications use. A 2018 study published by the International Headache Society finds that ginger can also boost the effectiveness of NSAIDs taken for migraine headaches. The same study finds that ginger produces fewer side effects than sumatriptan but is similarly effective.
In a study published in the Asian Journal of Medical Sciences, researchers find that ginger increases serotonin and dopamine levels in rats. These hormones are key to a sense of happiness and well-being in humans.
Ginger can ease the pressure on the connection between the esophagus and the stomach, reduce abdominal cramps, and prevent bloating and indigestion. It may also help constipation because it promotes the movement of food through the body.
A study of 100 men in Iran who sought treatment for infertility finds that those who take ginger have lower levels of sperm DNA fragmentation. A review of studies published from 2004–2019 finds that ginger improves sperm quality, including quantity, viability, and motility.
In a study of female rats, researchers find that ginger stimulates the follicles that produce eggs. Ginger may also help fertilized eggs implant. However, no similar studies have been done on humans.
Some other questions people often ask about the health benefits of ginger include:
What happens if you drink ginger every day?
Having some ginger every day — in any form — may aid digestion and fight free radicals, which are elements that can harm cells. Experts generally consider ginger safe to take every day.
What are the side effects of ginger?
Ginger does not have many known side effects. It may cause mild heartburn or abdominal discomfort if you take too much. Research generally considers ginger to be safe in amounts up to 1 g per day in any form.
Who should not take ginger?
People who are on blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder should not take ginger. If you are pregnant; have a heart condition, gallstones, or diabetes; or take blood pressure medication, talk with your doctor before you take ginger. If you are having surgery, ask your doctor about taking ginger prior to your procedure.
Ginger and its components have many potential health benefits. Ginger has shown anti-inflammatory properties and is high in antioxidants, which fight harmful free radicals. Ginger is also a home remedy for nausea, cramps, and indigestion.
Other potential health benefits include easing joint and migraine pain, boosting the immune system, and helping maintain brain function. However, studies on these benefits are not conclusive.
Ginger is generally safe to take with few side effects. However, always talk with your doctor or healthcare professional before starting any supplement.