When you think of ginger, you probably envision cookies and milk or maybe a remedy for nausea.
But the ingredients in ginger have been found to do so much more. Several studies report that anti-inflammation properties in this spice could address a variety of medical conditions.
Take diabetes for instance. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) reports that in 2012, 29.1 million Americans had diabetes; of that number, 21 million were undiagnosed and an additional 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed each year. The disease remains the 7th leading cause of death. But recent studies offer hope for those with diabetes.
A 2013 study evaluated the administration of oral ginger supplements to patients with type 2 diabetes. Findings showed that the ginger helped reduce inflammation and “may be a good remedy to diminish the risk of some chronic complications of diabetes.”
Benefits of ginger
Ginger has also proven effective for other chronic conditions. For instance, a 2014 study found that doses of ginger volatile oil reduced the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease.
Those who suffer with chronic kidney disease might be interested in another 2014 study that examined the effects of ginger on renal inflammation (). The researchers found ginger to have a protective effect on “metabolic syndrome-associated kidney injury.” The study noted, “Ginger, one of the most commonly used spices and medicinal plants, has been demonstrated to improve diet-induced metabolic abnormalities.”
Researchers in Iran explored the effects of ginger on obese women with breast cancer, who are at an elevated risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Their findings show that ginger supplementation, together with water-based exercise, had a protective effect against further development of the cancer.
Ginger may also help relieve another common problem that results in 10 million doctor visits annually. The National Kidney Foundation reports that one in five women will most likely have a urinary tract infection (UTI) at least once in her lifetime. But as a home remedy, ginger tea can help to alkalize urine, making it less acidic, which will prevent the burning sensation associated with a UTI.
Kirstin Carey, Certified Holistic Nutritionist and owner, Nourish Organic Café, specializes in treating clients with autoimmune diseases and other inflammatory conditions and routinely recommends ginger. “In every case of autoimmune disease, there is an issue of a compromised digestive system. Clients are dealing with leaky gut and an ineffective digestive process – this leads to nutrient deficiencies,” she says. “Ginger helps aid in the digestion process so we encourage clients to use fresh ginger in their dressings, juices and dishes.”
Carey reports that clients see improvement in their condition “…at different speeds, based on level of damage, amount of time the client’s health has been compromised, and how compliant the client is with her/his treatment plan.” She adds, “Ginger is a powerful herb, however, and clients can often notice a shift in digestive response upon the first time using ginger. We recommend using chopped, grated, or juiced fresh ginger root in dishes, juices, and smoothies.”
For clients really struggling with slow digestion, Carey recommends using at least 1/8 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger with every meal, which can be increased to the client’s tolerance. She adds that ginger can be taken long-term without any adverse effects and, for the most part, is safe for most people to take. “[However], since ginger helps with blood flow, people taking medications to help blood clotting may want to proceed with caution or discuss usage with their doctor,” she notes.
Naturopathic Doctor (ND) and Certified Nutritional Consultant (CNC), Luisa Szakacs, of Marpé Nutrition, dubs ginger as “one of the most versatile foods to have in your home ‘medicine’ cabinet.” She says, “It has a long history of benefits in many areas, including nausea, motion sickness, flatulence as well as other types of gastrointestinal distress. Ginger – both topically and orally – is one of my first recommendations when any of my clients come down with a ‘stomach bug,’ due to the quick and effective relief it provides to the gastrointestinal tract.”
Szakacs notes that using ginger in everyday cooking will provide ongoing benefits from this super food. “Adding ginger to stir fry, smoothies, drinking ginger tea, or juicing with ginger strengthens your immunity, helps to stabilize blood sugar and keeps your gut healthy. Always keep some close-by for regular or emergency use,” she says.
While this spice is a key ingredient in gingerbread cookies, it might also be beneficial in fighting inflammation from a number of medical conditions.