A review of studies showing the amazing benefits of ginger in weight-loss, blood glucose management, painful periods, blood pressure and cancer.
Ginger with the scientific name of Zingiber officinale is one of the most widely used spice and medicinal plant around the world, especially in Asian countries. You must have had ginger tea with lemon in childhood for colds or stomach aches.
This amazing route is rich in various chemical constituents, including phenolic compounds, terpenes, polysaccharides, lipids, organic acids, and raw fibers. The health benefits of ginger are mainly attributed to its phenolic compounds, such as gingerols and shogaols which have been studied more at length.
Studies have demonstrated that ginger possesses multiple biological activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer, neuroprotective, cardiovascular protective, respiratory protective, antiobesity, antidiabetic and antinausea.
Due to these properties ginger has been used for thousands of years for headaches, common colds, nausea, stomach bugs etc.. Well, it turns out there is even greater benefits associated with consuming ginger.
Check out some of the Meta-Analysis summarising the findings from numerous studies:
Ginger and Weight-loss
"Ginger intake may reduce body weight and improve metabolic profiles through increased expression of glucose transporter (type 4), glucose uptake by cells, increased insulin receptors, elevated pancreatic beta cells’ functions, and also modifying the adipokines concentrations."
The ginger supplement in the studies evaluated by this meta-analysis was administered to the individuals in doses ranging from 200 to 3000 mg/day with duration of supplementation ranged between 2 and 12 weeks in the included trials.
Overall, the current meta-analysis demonstrated that ginger intake reduced weight, waist-to-hip ratio, hip ratio, fasting glucose, the relation between fasting insulin and fasting glucose (homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance), and increased HDL-cholesterol (the good cholesterol). On the other hand it did not affect insulin, BMI, triglycerides, total- and LDL-cholesterol levels.
Other meta-analysis have shown reducing effects on BMI, triglycerides and total cholesterol.
These are great indications that ginger might help, but I wouldn't bet weight loss only on ginger supplementation, but use as an added factor that may help.
Ginger and Blood pressure
The included trials in this meta‐analysis were carried out with 175 participants in supplementation and 170 in the control groups. Most participants also has type 2 diabetes.
In this meta-analysis, when studies were categorized based on participants' mean age, ginger dosage, and duration of intervention, the blood pressure (SBP and DBP) in participants were significantly decreased for those studies that had mean age ≤ 50 years, follow‐up duration of ≤8 weeks, and ginger doses ≥3 g/day.
Ginger and blood glucose
Eight randomized trials consisting of a total number of 454 participants with Type 2 Diabetes were included in this analysis. At first, fasting blood glucose was compared in patients with Type 2 diabetes before and after ginger supplementation. This showed no significant difference. However, a significantly improved HbA1c (blood glucose) was observed in those participants with ginger consumption.
There are a few smaller studies in the PubMed search showing the reduction in both Hba1c and fasting blood glucose levels.
I doubt ginger is the magic bullet for treating type 2 diabetes, but an option to try adding in, alongside the lifestyle changes needed to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Ginger and Cancer
"In this context, ‐gingerol, the flavonoid antioxidant and the main active constituent of fresh ginger, has been recognized and employed as an alternative drug in treating different cancers, alone or in combination with other chemotherapeutic drugs. It displays important antioxidant and/or anti‐inflammatory effects that could be employed in preventing and treating cancer. Data obtained from experimental (in vitro/in vivo) and clinical studies reveal that EG and/or ‐gingerol exhibit antiproliferative, antitumor, anti‐invasive, and anti‐inflammatory effects in chronic diseases and carcinoma."
Ginger and painful periods
This meta-analysis Included four RCTs (Randomized Control trials) which compared the therapeutic efficacy of ginger with a placebo during the first 3-4 days of the menstrual cycle. The data showed a significant effect of ginger in reducing pain in subjects having very painful periods (primary dysmenorrhea).
Collectively these RCTs provide suggestive evidence for the effectiveness of 750-2000 mg ginger powder during the first 3-4 days of menstrual cycle for primary dysmenorrhea.
For those suffering with very painful periods, this might be something you can give a try with your healthcare professional.
Which form of ginger is best?
When accessing the antioxidant activity, the results revealed that dried ginger exhibited the strongest antioxidant activity, because the number of phenolic compounds was much higher than that of fresh, stir-fried, and carbonized ginger. The antioxidant activity of different gingers had a tendency to be the following: dried ginger > stir-fried ginger > carbonized ginger > fresh ginger.
In determining this levels of antioxidants dry ginger was obtained by drying the fresh ginger slices at about 40 ◦C. The stir-frying ginger was processed from dried ginger which was stir-fried with tenfold of sands at about 220 ◦C for 7 min until being plump and brown and the carbonized ginger was manufactured by heating and frying the dried ginger till the surface and inside both becoming black. (A common Traditional Chinese medicine method).
Cautions with Ginger
Ginger has been supplemented in a wide range of doses in human and animal investigations, and there is an agreement regarding that is rather safe. However it is documented that ginger can result in some unwilling side effects such as indigestion, nausea, gastric irritant, and heartburn in high dosage. Also ginger could reduce the bleeding time and should be consumed with caution along with blood thinners such as warfarin or aspirin. As always, if you experience any discomfort from anything stop it immediately.
More studies are probably needed in each area but from what we have right now, it is hard to identify reasons to not incorporate this amazing spice into your cooking, drinking or infusing routines. It has so many amazing benefits to protect you from chronic disease, inflammation and even bacteria.
My research here is limited in many ways and there is a lot more that we are still finding out about our bodies and the way it interacts with our environment, so this might not work for everyone, but worth a try.
Disclaimer: We are all so unique in our own ways so this information if for education purposes only. If you are pregnant or have any conditions please speak to your doctor about your circumstances or check contraindication and medication interactions.