Ginger, also known as Zingiber officinale, is a medicinal herb used widely for its health benefits for centuries. The health benefits of Ginger are because of its active constituents mostly found in its rhizome/roots. Historically it was one of the first spices and also medicinally used to relieve nausea and vomiting.
Ginger is an important and essential ingredient in spice and used daily in diet/meal. Although the herb contains many bioactive compounds but phenolic compounds including shogaols, zingerone, quercetin, paradols, gingerenone-A, and gingerols (6-gingerol, 8-gingerol, and 10-gingerol) are of great importance. Because, these compounds are mainly responsible for the medicinal effects of Ginger.
Other active constituents include Lipids, Polysaccharides, Terpenes (such as zingiberene beta-bisabolene, alpha-farnesene, and alpha-curcumene), Raw fibers, and Organic Acids. It has been reported that dried Ginger contains many of these active compounds compared to fresh and carbonized Ginger.
Health benefits of Ginger:
Medical research studies have reported the following health benefits of Ginger:
The bioactive compounds in Ginger possess antioxidant activity that neutralizes and remove the free radical and toxins. Ginger relieves oxidative stress, stimulates several antioxidant enzymes such as glutathione and glutathione disulfide, and reduces free radicals and lipid peroxidation production. These free radicals can damage cellular activities and may result in the development of chronic medical conditions. The antioxidant action also helps to prevent liver and kidney damage.
For years, Ginger has been studied to evaluate its antimicrobial effect against infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. A study reported that Ginger prevents bacterial resistance and inhibits certain bacterial strains, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus.
Ginger targets cell membrane and damage its integrity and permeability. This action is beneficial in treating fungal infections caused by Fusarium verticillioides and Aspergillus flavus. It also helps to fight against viral infections by effectively blocking viral attachment and entering the host cell. It inhibits viruses' growth, including human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) that induce plaque formation in the respiratory tract.
Ginger also relieves inflammation by inhibiting different pathways and pro-inflammatory mediators such as nitric oxide, interleukin, prostaglandins, and tissue necrosis factors. It also increases the level of anti-inflammatory mediators such as cytokines and prevents intestinal inflammations. Medical studies showed that it improves digestive health by preventing the development of colitis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Cardio-, Neuro- and respiratory protective agent:
Ginger exhibits neuroprotective activity by supporting memory functions and protecting nerves via its anti-neuroinflammatory action. It helps to decrease the risk of neurodegeneration, especially in elders who are at high risk of Alzheimer's disease and parkinsonism. Ginger protects neuronal cells and improves Alzheimer's disease by scavenging the free radicals, inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory mediators, and also by increasing the level of proteins at synaptic terminals.
Ginger support optimal cardiovascular health by reducing the level of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoproteins in the blood. It improves blood supply, prevents the risk of atherosclerosis, inhibits the proliferation of vascular smooth muscles, and increases the level of high-density lipoproteins. Ginger also regulates high blood pressure via modulating the angiotensin-1 converting enzyme (ACE) activity, preventing platelet aggregation, and inducing vasodilation.
Ginger supports the optimal functioning of the respiratory system and improves lung performance by exhibiting bronchodilatory effects. It helps to ease breathing and remove any airway resistance. It also prevents the risk of allergic asthma and coughing via its anti-inflammatory action.
Ginger can be helpful in treating gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, motion sickness, and vomiting. It shows antiemetic activity by inhibiting the transmission of emetic signals in vagal efferent neurons or inhibiting the activation of serotonin receptors, which has a crucial role in vomiting. Ginger may also help to relieve pregnancy, drugs, and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
Ginger prevents the development of diabetes by reducing the high glucose level in the blood. It regulates blood glucose levels by increasing insulin sensitivity and decreasing fasting plasma glucose, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and glycated hemoglobin A (HbA1C).
Ginger's bioactive compounds have been evaluated for its anticancer activity against cervical, prostate, colorectal, liver, pancreatic, and breast cancer. Different medical studies have reported that Ginger improves the symptoms of or prevent the development of these cancers by inhibiting the proliferation, reducing the abnormal cell division, and inducing apoptosis of cancerous cells.
Ginger shows anti-obesity activity by preventing the accumulation of fats in adipose tissues. It also helps to increase the metabolism and utilization of fatty acids and reduce body mass index with regular use in the diet.
Different medical studies have also reported that Ginger reduces the risk of steatohepatitis and liver damage. It can be used to improve allergic rhinitis by decreasing sneezing and nasal rubbing. Ginger may also be used to manage migraines and heavy menstrual bleeding by reducing blood loss.
Ginger usually doesn't cause any side effects; however, certain side effects can be rarely seen with Ginger's high dose. These side effects include gastrointestinal upset such as heartburn, stomach pain, gas, and mouth burning. It is recommended not to consume more than 4 grams per day.
In pregnancy, breastfeeding, recent surgery, and certain medical conditions such as cardiovascular disorders, gallstones, and diabetes, it is advised to consult your doctor before taking Ginger. Ginger poorly interacts with medicines. However, do not consume it concomitantly with Nifedipine, Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs, warfarin and cyclosporine.
Health benefits in short: