Ginger isn't always on the menu in Western cuisine. These seven scientifically validated health benefits of ginger are a good reason to add the root, which originates from Asia, to dishes, desserts and drinks.
The World Health Organization has recognized the potential effectiveness of ginger in treating nausea (pregnancy, surgery, chemotherapy, travel sickness). Gingerol and shogaol contained in the plant reduce stomach movement with a calming effect. Two studies reveal that an intake of 0.5g to 1.5g of ground ginger (in capsule form) could be effective in treating nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Plus, a meta-analysis explains that 1g of ground ginger (in capsule form) could be more effective than a placebo for keeping nausea and vomiting at bay after surgery.
Ginger is well known for its digestive virtues thanks to the active ingredient gingerol. This stimulates the production of bile and digestive enzymes.
Reducing muscle pain
Sports fans take note — ginger can help ease muscle pain. A study from the U.S., published in the Journal of Pain, found that taking 2g of ginger for 11 days reduced pain linked to physical exercise by 25 per cent.
Warming the body
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), ginger is used for its warming effect since it is believed to "banish humidity." Like most spices, ginger increases body temperature, which is ideal if you're feeling the chill in winter or if you're suffering from a cold.
Preventing colon cancer
Ginger has been found to play a preventative role in colon cancer thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger supplements can help reduce inflammation in the colon, in turn potentially reducing the risk of colon cancer, according to an American study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.
According to a study published in 2013 by researchers at the USA's Columbia University, ginger could help asthma patients breathe more easily thanks to its bronchodilator properties. Beneficial effects are thought to be linked to three components: gingerol 6, gingerol 8 and shogaol.
Some attribute ginger's supposed aphrodisiac properties to its magnesium-rich rhizome. Its warming virtues and vasodilatory effects are thought to favour sexual function. However, this is yet to be validated by scientific research.
Ginger can be taken in different forms, such as capsules, ground ginger powder, herbal teas, fresh ginger, crystallized ginger or syrup. Around 1g to 2g of ground ginger powder is equivalent to around 10g of fresh ginger.
It is recommended to talk to your doctor before taking ginger, especially for anyone taking medication for a heart condition.