We’ve all had that moment where you are sure at any moment you are going to vomit…whether you were pregnant, ate that pizza left out overnight, or just had the flu. And in that moment your parent, partner or friend tells you to drink some ginger ale because it will help with the nausea. Turns out, ginger is has health benefits far beyond soothing your stomach. It is a potent anti-inflammatory root, one that has few if any downsides.
How Does It Work?
Research suggests that the compounds gingerol and zingerone are ginger’s primary active elements. The way the body processes gingerol is what makes ginger carminative (prevent gas formation in stomach), anti-flatulent and anti-microbial. The two compounds together reduce many forms of inflammation, from colitis to kidney damage to diabetes and cancer.
What is it used for?
A 2013 study treated participants with diclofenac (a painkiller) or ginger or both for 12 weeks. All 3 groups showed improvement but the combination group saw the maximum improvement. Researchers observed ginger has an additive effect on osteoarthritis treatment by safely increasing the effects of painkillers.
Topical application of ginger extract nanoparticles (not exactly sure how these are made, but they sound cool) is found to reduce pain and improve daily activities and joint function in those suffering from osteoarthritis. A similar case study revealed ginger therapy progressively reduces osteoarthritis symptoms in 24 weeks.
Topical ginger treatment in the form of compress or patch progressively reduces symptoms of osteoarthritis and brings about 48% reduction in pain. Also this study concluded with participants reporting 70% health satisfaction in comparison to their original 80% dissatisfaction.
Ginger constituents like gingerol and shogaol inhibit formation of inflammatory proteins in osteoarthritis. This brings about a reduction in pain, swelling and soreness. It also reduces degradation of bone and cartilage.
Ginger helps in remedying stomach problems and can protect against formation of ulcers caused by use of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Multiple animal studies reported that ginger exertsprotective effects against ulcers caused by aspirin and other painkillers.
Clinical studies show anti-inflammatory results with the consumption of between 2-3 grams of ginger root powder spread out over 2-3 doses daily. A 2012 study reported that 1 gram of ginger powder does not benefit in joint pain and function in osteoarthritis. Lower doses of ginger are sufficient however to relieve the symptoms of nausea.
A 2008 review study found that the evidence regarding use of ginger in osteoarthritis is weak due to a lack of large, longer term studies. As I discussed in the ‘how to read…nutrition research edition‘ that is a critical limitation is many nutritional studies. There are a handful of ongoing studies regarding ginger. And most of the research which has emerged since 2008 uses higher doses of ginger than earlier studies, improving the clinical outcomes.
Ginger demonstrates some blood thinning effects, so if you are already on blood thinners you should use ginger with caution.
Otherwise, ginger may cause some stomach discomfort if taken in a large (greater than 2 grams) dose on an empty stomach. And may cause a slight burning sensation of digestive discomfort if you use more than 4 grams / daily.
For the next handful of posts I am going to turn to depression and stress. We’ll look at the damage those cause the body, and some supplements that are used to treat them naturally.
Until then, explore previous posts here or here. Or you can check out the first anti-inflammatory supplement that delivers clinical nutrition, at clinical doses, delivered at clinical intervals. If you need a diversion from the ordinary you can read about the pre-history of humanity’s second century in space.