Updated: May 19
Scientific Name: Zingiber officinale
Common Names: Cooking ginger, Canton, Stem ginger, Canton ginger
Family: Zingiberaceae (Ginger)
Ginger is sometimes called common ginger, cooking ginger, canton, stem ginger, canton ginger, or its botanical name, Zingiber officinale (1). Ginger plants are famous for their highly scented and tasty roots, but their most identifiable feature grows underground. With that said, a ginger plant can be identified by its hairy stems, brown or purple (although some species can be a deep red or even green) leaves of three that grow from the plant's base, and greenish flowers, sometimes tipped with purple, held on pine-cone-shaped spikes (2).
Benefits of Ginger
Benefits of Ginger
The active constituent that happens to be most studied in ginger is called gingerol (3). Gingerol has many known medicinal properties and a long history in traditional and alternative medicine. Most importantly, gingerol has robust anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that provide a long list of benefits, including:
An antibacterial property is when a substance, or in this case, an herb, can destroy or suppress the growth and reproduction of bacteria (4). Ginger's active constituent, gingerol, has been found to have antibacterial properties, significantly lowering the risk of infection. Several studies have demonstrated ginger extract's ability to inhibit bacteria growth (5,6). One study showed ginger's effectiveness against oral bacteria linked to inflammatory gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis (7). Additionally, fresh ginger has been effective against the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) (8).
May Provide Migraine Control
Roughly 35 million Americans experience migraine headaches, making them the third most prevalent and sixth most-disabling illness worldwide (9). In studies, 250 mg of ginger was as effective as sumatriptan in reducing migraine pain. Ginger also poses fewer side effects than sumatriptan, making it a safer alternative (10). Ginger works similarly to a class of prescription medications called triptans, which increases serotonin, a chemical messenger involved with migraine attacks, which is believed to help stop migraine by reducing inflammation and restricting blood vessels. Earthley's Ginger Root Capsules are excellent for these benefits.
May Ease Nausea & Morning Sickness
Ginger's most common use is to ease nausea, especially morning sickness. Under several circumstances, studies have found ginger to be a highly effective anti-nausea remedy. Studies have found ginger relieves nausea and vomiting for participants undergoing specific surgical procedures (11,12). Another study found ginger to help chemotherapy-related nausea (13). A systematic review of 12 studies with 1,278 pregnant participants found that 1.1-1.5 grams of ginger significantly reduced morning sickness symptoms (14). I recommend Earthley's Pregnancy Tea for these benefits.
May Relieve Chronic Indigestion
Indigestion, sometimes called dyspepsia or an upset stomach, is a discomfort in the upper abdomen, such as abdominal pain and a feeling of fullness soon after you start eating (15). It's believed that delayed gastric emptying is a significant factor for indigestion (16), but ginger has demonstrated the ability to speed up the process (17). One study discovered that participants who took ginger emptied their stomachs nearly 4 minutes faster than those who took the placebo (18). Another study found ginger drastically accelerated the stomach-emptying process by over 10 minutes (19). I recommend Earthley's Spice Tea for these benefits.
May Reduce Menstrual Pain
Menstrual pain, sometimes called dysmenorrhea, affects up to 95 percent of women (20); thankfully, ginger has been used historically for relief. An older study analyzed and split 150 women into three groups receiving four doses of either 250 milligrams of ginger powder, 250 milligrams of mefenamic acid, or 400 milligrams of ibuprofen daily. The study concluded that ginger just as effectively reduced menstrual pain as the two NSAIDs (21). Several recent studies found ginger equally as effective as medications like Mefenamic acid and Novafen (22, 23).
May Improve Blood Sugar Levels
Several studies have found ginger has robust anti-diabetic properties. One study discovered giving 41 participants with type 2 diabetes 2 grams of ginger powder daily reduced fasting blood sugar by 12 percent, Apolipoprotein B/Apolipoprotein A-I ratio by 28 percent, and malondialdehyde by 23 percent (24). One review encountered a significant reduction in HbA1c levels of people with type 2 diabetes when using ginger (25).
May Lower Cholesterol Levels
Several studies have uncovered a link between ginger and reduced cholesterol levels. An older study found that participants who took 3 grams of ginger powder daily noticed a significant decrease in most cholesterol markers, including a 10 percent reduction in their LDL cholesterol levels over 45 days (26). A more recent study analyzed 60 participants, 30 of whom received 5 grams of ginger-pasted powder daily. This study saw a 17.4 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol levels over three months (27). Additionally, an animal study experienced lower cholesterol levels and blood triglyceride levels (28)
May Improve Brain Functionality
Gingerol's robust antioxidant properties protect against oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, which can accelerate the aging process, such as brain function. These are critical drivers of Alzheimer's disease and other age-related cognitive declines. An animal study implied that ginger's antioxidants and bioactive compounds could inhibit inflammatory responses that occur in the brain (29). A human study of healthy middle-aged women demonstrated improved reaction time and working memory with daily doses of ginger extract (30).
May Help Manage Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disorder in the United States and is associated with joint pain and stiffness. The number of people affected with symptomatic OA will likely increase due to the aging population and the obesity epidemic (31). One study discovered that participants who received 0.5-1 gram of ginger daily significantly reduced pain and disability (32). Another study combined topical ginger, mastic, cinnamon, and sesame oil and successfully reduced pain and stiffness in individuals with OA of the knee (33). Earthley's Anti-Inflammatory is excellent for these benefits.
May Aid in Weight Loss
Animal and human studies have assessed ginger's role in weight loss. Animal studies in rats concluded that the consumption of ginger water or ginger extract resulted in a steady decrease in body weight, even in instances where they'd been fed high-fat diets (34,35). A literature review demonstrates that ginger supplementation significantly reduces body weight, waist-hip ratio, and hip ratio in overweight/obese individuals (36). A human study of 80 obese women discovered that 2 grams of ginger powder for 12 weeks aided in reducing body mass index (BMI) and blood insulin levels (high blood insulin levels are associated with obesity) (37).
Several studies have been conducted in both test tubes and on animals regarding the potential anticancer properties of ginger. Ginger's active constituent, gingerol, has demonstrated anticancer properties, especially -gingerol, which is considered incredibly robust (38). Some evidence points to ginger being effective against gastrointestinal cancers such as pancreatic and liver cancer (39,40). Other evidence suggests ginger is effective against breast and ovarian cancer (41,42). Additionally, 2 grams of ginger extract significantly reduced pro-inflammatory signaling molecules in the colon in a 28-day study of individuals at average risk for colorectal cancer (43).
⚠️ Warning: The Holistic Hipppie is not a functional medicine practitioner. The FDA has not evaluated these statements. This content is not medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or replace medical guidance. The Holistic Hipppie assumes no liability for the application of the information discussed.
Contraindications & Interactions
The mainstream will caution against the use of ginger for pregnant women; herbalists disagree. As per trusted herbalist Richard Whelan, ginger has never been associated with adverse events. Actually, quite the contrary, a tremendous number of women have found ginger helpful during pregnancy, so it has been very widely used without any issues. Finally, the reason for the caution comes from a level of use that would equate to massive ginger consumption, far more than we ever use in medicine or food.
Richard Whelan concludes that ginger is very safe for breastfeeding. Ginger can and should be used freely by the elderly when needed and can equally safely be used by the young and pregnant so long as they can tolerate its spiciness (44)!
Regarding ginger essential oil, trusted aromatherapist Wendy Robbins does not indicate any known hazards. Some sources indicate that ginger essential oil is phototoxic; however, the reported low-level phototoxic effects are not considered significant. She also warns that ginger essential oil poses a higher risk of causing irritation and sensitization when used in the bath and recommends avoiding ginger essential oil in the bath, even if it is solubilized/diluted (45).
Products Recommended with Ginger Ingredients
When I make my own products with ginger, I buy locally, but for those who don't have a local supply, I recommend Starwest Botanicals or Frontier Co-op. I really enjoy using ginger root in a neti pot for congestion.
Earthley's Anti-Inflammatory was created for the common inflammation that can flare up from low immunity or an illness. This herbal extract helps to calm the body, reduce inflammation, and provide immune support. It can even help improve your mood!
Earthley's Castor Detox (Warm Formula) is infused to assist in detoxing your liver, relieving the pain of cysts, reducing joint pain, promoting lymphatic health, and more.
Earthley's Detox Bath can be used to support your body during a detox, during an illness, or just because you want to relax in a lovely scented soak. This blend can help with joint and muscle pain, headaches, lymphatic congestion, and rashes.
Earthley's Elderberry Elixir (Original Formula) is a liquid supplement that combines elderberries and other immune-supporting herbs for everyday wellness. It's an elderberry tincture (not syrup) that’s a potent cold and flu fighter, shelf-stable for up to 2 years, and super concentrated, which makes it the most cost-effective option.
Earthley's Eye Serum smoothes wrinkles, nourishes delicate skin, and banishes dark circles under the eyes. Earthley infused a blend of oils (blueberry seed, rosehip seed, and prickly pear) with herbs (comfrey, calendula, ginger, licorice root) to improve circulation and reduce inflammation.
Earthley's Ginger Root Capsules can help promote a normal inflammatory response, lower blood sugar levels, relieve indigestion, help fight infections, and more. It's also an excellent natural way to relieve occasional nausea and morning sickness.
Earthley's Infant Tummy Relief is special for little tummies but works for stomach upsets of all ages. It can help relieve pain associated with occasional gas, bloating, and even those pesky hiccups that babies are susceptible to.
Earthley's Lymphatic Cream is a lotion created to help relieve achy body parts caused by swollen lymph nodes. This cream tackles lymphatic congestion at the source and gently encourages drainage to help detox, reduce soreness, and improve overall wellness.
Earthley's Mama's Tummy Relief supports healthy liver function, banishes bloating and nausea, and promotes gut health. While it was formulated for expecting mamas, it's also perfect for anyone with general stomach upset!
Earthley's Pain Relief Rub helps you experience true relief from back pain, muscle pain, joint pain, and more. Earthley's synergistic cream combines naturally pain-relieving herbs like St. John's Wort and yarrow with full-spectrum CBD. Rub a small amount into the sore spot and feel the relief within minutes!
Earthley's Pregnancy Tea is a nourishing brew to support a healthy pregnancy! Every mom wants to ensure she and baby are getting everything they need. Pregnancy Tea can help! This herbal formula contains all the nutrients you may miss in one tea blend.
Earthley's Spice Tea is perfect for cinnamon and spice lovers. This tea combines green rooibos, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric to create a warm, tasty blend. Rich in antioxidants, this tea has cognition-enhancing abilities and anti-nausea effects, which are great for soothing an upset tummy.
Plant Therapy's Ginger Essential Oil offers a wide variety of support. Its affinity for the digestive system allows it to naturally tackle stomach concerns, such as bloating, cramps, nausea, and gas. It can also settle upset due to traveling, motion sickness, and overeating. This essential oil is safe for kids, pregnancy, breastfeeding, dogs, and horses.