Ginger is among the healthiest (and most delicious) spices on the planet.It is loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have powerful benefits for your body and brain.Here are 11 health benefits of ginger that are supported by scientific research.Ginger is a flowering plant that originated from China.It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, and is closely related to turmeric, cardomon and galangal.The rhizome (underground part of the stem) is the part commonly used as a spice. It is often called ginger root, or simply ginger.Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional/alternative medicine. It has been used to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold, to name a few.Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice, and is sometimes added to processed foods and cosmetics. It is a very common ingredient in recipes.The unique fragrance and flavor of ginger come from its natural oils, the most important of which is gingerol.Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for much of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects (1).Ginger appears to be highly effective against nausea (2).For example, it has a long history of use as a sea sickness remedy, and there is some evidence that it may be as effective as prescription medication (3).Ginger may also relieve nausea and vomiting after surgery, and in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy (4, 5).But it may be the most effective when it comes to pregnancy-related nausea, such as morning sickness.
According to a review of 12 studies that included a total of 1,278 pregnant women, 1.1-1.5 grams of ginger can significantly reduce symptoms of nausea (6).However, ginger had no effect on vomiting episodes in this study.Although ginger is considered safe, talk to your doctor before taking large amounts if you are pregnant. Some believe that large amounts can raise the risk of miscarriage, but there are currently no studies to support this.Ginger has been shown to be effective against exercise-induced muscle pain.In one study, consuming 2 grams of ginger per day, for 11 days, significantly reduced muscle pain in people performing elbow exercises (7).Ginger does not have an immediate impact, but may be effective at reducing the day-to-day progression of muscle pain (8).These effects are believed to be mediated by the anti-inflammatory properties.Osteoarthritis is a common health problem.It involves degeneration of the joints in the body, leading to symptoms like joint pain and stiffness.In a controlled trial of 247 people with osteoarthritis of the knee, those who took ginger extract had less pain and required less pain medication (9).Another study found that a combination of ginger, mastic, cinnamon and sesame oil, can reduce pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis patients when applied topically (10).This area of research is relatively new, but ginger may have powerful anti-diabetic properties.In a recent 2015 study of 41 participants with type 2 diabetes, 2 grams of ginger powder per day lowered fasting blood sugar by 12% (11).It also dramatically improved HbA1c (a marker for long-term blood sugar levels).