Ginger root (Zingiber officinal Roscoe.) is a worldwide known spice used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayuverda (1). Ginger is member of the Zingiberaceae plant family, native to southern Asia, consisting of 49 genera and 1,300 species, 80–90 of which are Zingiber.
It contains nonvolatile pungent constituents such as various types of gingerols, shogaols, zingerone, capsaicin, caffeic acid, curcumin, and salicylate and paradol (1,7).
Ginger is a great anti-inflammatory spice.
Several studies have shown that the consumption of ginger benefits patients with osteoarthritis. Ginger has been shown to lead to a reduction of proinflammatory cytokines after the daily consumption of 500mg of ginger powder (15).
Ginger enhances digestion
Ginger has been demonstrated through several studies to be a known digestive enhancer and to have a positive effect on gastric function, regards gastric emptying and dysrhythmia (14).
Ginger ameliorates menstrual pain.
Ginger’s components have plentiful anti-inflammatory activities, as it has been used for a variety of ailments such as menstrual pain and cramping (2). Preclinical research has demonstrated that ginger modulates the synthesis of prostaglandins, which induce pre-menstrual cramping and pain (4).
A systematic review and meta-analysis provided suggestive evidence for the effectiveness of ginger in treating primary dysmenorrhea. This study demonstrated that 750–2000 mg/ day of ginger during the first 3–4 days of the menstrual cycle is a very promising potential treatment for the pain and discomfort associated with primary dysmenorrhea (3).
Ginger was shown to produce significant improvements in mood, physical and behavioral symptoms of PMS as studied in sixty-six women which used ginger in tablets (250mg) twice daily. Women began using ginger seven days before menstrual bleeding and continued until three days after the onset of bleeding. The effects of ginger consumption were even greater three months after using ginger (6).
A 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis showed that ginger administration was more effective than a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in ameliorating menstrual pain in dysmenorrhea (5).
Ginger enhances brain health
Ginger has been reputed for its antioxidant and cognitive-enhancing effects, alongside a wide range of anti-inflammatory, antilipidemic, and antiemetic properties (8). Ginger has been demonstrated to enhance memory and protect against brain damage (9).
In a study by Saenghong et al (2012), middle-aged healthy women received 400 and 800mg of ginger extract once daily for two months. Women who received the ginger extract exhibited enhanced working memory and brain activity; therefore, ginger was considered a great cognitive enhancer (8).
Ginger has anti-emetic benefits during the first trimester of pregnancy
Ginger’s components have been proposed to affect serotonin and muscarinic receptors in the gastrointestinal tract, therefore act on different types of nausea (10). Ginger root is one of the most used herbs during pregnancy against nausea and vomiting during the first trimester of pregnancy, when organogenesis occurs (11). It possesses anti-emetic, and carminative properties to promote the secretion of saliva and gastric juices (12).
Heitman and colleagues examined the safety of ginger during pregnancy on congenital malformations and other selected pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, and lower birth weight. Ginger was not associated with an increased risk of congenital malformations and was deemed to be safe for consumption during pregnancy.
Another study demonstrated that women who received ginger early in pregnancy experienced no adverse pregnancy outcomes related to major malformations, live birth, birth weight, and gestational age (12).
A recent meta-analysis also showed that ginger administration among 1174 pregnant women significantly improved the severity of nausea compared to placebo and vitamin B6 administration (13).
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2. Shimoda H, Shan SJ, Tanaka J, Seki A, Seo JW, Kasajima N, . . . Murakami N. Anti-inflammatory properties of red ginger (Zingiber officinale var. Rubra) extract and suppression of nitric oxide production by its constituents. Journal of medicinal food. Feb 2010;13(1):156-162.
3. Daily, J. W., Zhang, X., Kim, D. S., & Park, S. (2015). Efficacy of Ginger for Alleviating the Symptoms of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Pain Medicine, 16(12), 2243–2255.
4. Dawood M. Y. Primary dysmenorrhea: advances in pathogenesis and management. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2006;108(2):428–441.
5. Chen, C. X., Barrett, B., & Kwekkeboom, K. L. (2016). Efficacy of Oral Ginger (Zingiber officinale) for Dysmenorrhea: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2016, 6295737.
6. Khayat S, Kheirkhah M, Behboodi Moghadam Z, Fanaei H, Kasaeian A, Javadimehr M. Effect of treatment with ginger on the severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms. ISRN obstetrics and gynecology. 2014;2014:792708.
7. Altman RD, Marcussen KC. Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum 2001;44(11):2531–8.
8. Saenghong, N., Wattanathorn, J., Muchimapura, S., Tongun, T., Piyavhatkul, N., Banchonglikitkul, C., & Kajsongkram, T. (2012). Zingiber officinale Improves Cognitive Function of the Middle-Aged Healthy Women. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2012, 383062.
9. Wattanathorn J, Jittiwat J, Tongun T, Muchimapura S, Ingkaninan K. Zingiber officinale mitigates brain damage and improves memory impairment in focal cerebral ischemic rat. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011;2011:8 pages. Article ID 429505.
10. Pertz HH, Lehmann J, Roth-Ehrang R, Elz S (2011) Effects of Ginger Constituents on the Gastrointestinal Tract: role of Cholinergic M(3) and Serotonergic 5-HT(3) and 5-HT(4) Receptors. Planta Med 77:973–978.
11. Heitman K., Nordeg H., and Holst L., (2013). Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 69:269-77
12. Portnoi G, Chng LA, Karimi-Tabesh L, Koren G, Tan MP, Einarson A (2003) Prospective comparative study of the safety and effectiveness of ginger for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol 189:1374–1377.
13. Hu Y, Amoah AN, Zhang H, Fu R, Qiu Y, Cao Y, Sun Y, Chen H, Liu Y, Lyu Q. Effect of ginger in the treatment of nausea and vomiting compared with vitamin B6 and placebo during pregnancy: a meta-analysis. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2022 Jan;35(1):187-196. Epub 2020 Jan 14. PMID: 31937153.
14. Anh, N. H., Kim, S. J., Long, N. P., Min, J. E., Yoon, Y. C., Lee, E. G., Kim, M., Kim, T. J., Yang, Y. Y., Son, E. Y., Yoon, S. J., Diem, N. C., Kim, H. M., & Kwon, S. W. (2020). Ginger on Human Health: A Comprehensive Systematic Review of 109 Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients, 12(1), 157.
15. Mozaffari-Khosravi H., Naderi Z., Dehghan A., Nadjarzadeh A., Fallah Huseini H. Effect of ginger supplementation on proinflammatory cytokines in older patients with osteoarthritis: Outcomes of a randomized controlled clinical trial. J. Nutr. Gerontol. Geriatr. 2016;35:209–218.