For thousands of years, ginger has been used for its medicinal properties in regions such as China, India, and later in Europe. (23) Ginger contains over 400 different compounds, several of which contribute to the impressive health benefits of ginger, including reducing nausea and inflammation, improving digestion, and more. Keep reading to learn about ginger root and ginger tea benefits as well as how to make ginger tea at home.
What is ginger?
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a medicinal herb that belongs to the Zingiberaceae family of flowering plants whose roots (rhizomes) provide a variety of health benefits and are used globally for their flavor. (23) Ginger can be consumed fresh, powdered, as a tea, or in supplement form.
What is ginger tea?
Ginger tea is a drink that’s made by combining fresh or dried ginger root with boiling water and letting the mixture steep until the ginger is infused into the water and it reaches an appropriate temperature to consume. Ginger tea has a somewhat spicy flavor and can be made at home using fresh peeled ginger root, dried ginger pieces, or dried ginger in tea bags. In order to better understand the benefits of ginger tea, the table below compares ginger extract, commonly included in ginger supplements, to ginger tea. The table below outlines two ginger tea preparations that contain 1,000 mg of ginger extract.
Health benefits of ginger
The main constituents of ginger rhizomes include carbohydrates, lipids, phenolic compounds, terpenes, and to a lesser extent, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. (23) Gingerols are phenolic compounds present in ginger that contribute to its pungent taste, aroma, and several of its health benefits including the alleviation of nausea. (26) Other ginger benefits may include improving digestion, inducing anti-inflammatory effects, supporting cardiovascular health, alleviating symptoms of PMS and osteoarthritis, and positively affecting certain markers of type 2 diabetes.
1. Alleviates nausea and vomiting
Supplementing with ginger may help alleviate nausea and vomiting in women who are pregnant. Nausea and vomiting are two symptoms commonly experienced during early pregnancy and potentially throughout pregnancy for some women. (25)
Results of a systematic review that examined the use of ginger for pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting (PNV) showed that ginger was significantly more effective at reducing the intensity of nausea and the occurrence of vomiting compared to a placebo. (6)
Another meta-analysis that examined the effects of ginger for alleviating PNV in early pregnancy determined that 1 g of ginger per day for four days was associated with a higher likelihood of improvement in nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy than a placebo. (28)
Results from both studies suggest that ginger is effective as a treatment for PNV; however, the first concludes that ginger is a safe treatment option for PNV, and the second study concludes that the safety of its use warrants further research. Dosing and duration of treatment are two areas that require further investigation based on results of the first study. (6)(7)
Did you know? Ginger powder and extracts that have been dehydrated and heated may have a lower concentration of gingerols. (13)
2. Supports digestion
Ginger may be useful for supporting digestion and has long been used to help alleviate certain gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. (23)
Did you know? According to Indian Ayurvedic medicine, ginger is used to support the digestion of food. (23)
A systematic review that examined the effects of ginger consumption on gastrointestinal disorders determined that 1,500 mg in supplement form may be helpful for relieving nausea. (19) However, the effects of ginger consumption on other gastrointestinal disorders such as functional dyspepsia were ultimately insignificant due in part to the lack of available well-controlled research studies. Functional dyspepsia refers to a set of symptoms affecting the stomach such as recurrent upper abdominal pain after eating and fullness and/or early satiety after eating. (7)
One small study that examined the effects of ginger on gastric motility and symptoms of functional dyspepsia in patients with the condition determined that 1.2 g of ginger, consumed on an empty stomach prior to consuming 500 mL of soup, may stimulate gastric emptying and antral contractions. Gastric emptying refers to food in the stomach emptying into the small intestine, and contractions of the muscles in the stomach support this process. Ginger had no effect on gastrointestinal sensations, appetite, or gut peptides. (11)
3. Reduces inflammation
Ginger contains phenolic compounds, such as gingerols, shogaols, and paradols, that possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. (18)
Did you know? Inflammation is a natural response of the immune system to physical harm; however, chronic inflammation can contribute to the development of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders, and more. (8)
A systematic review and meta-analysis that examined the effects of supplementing with ginger on markers of inflammation and oxidative stress determined that compared to controls, ginger significantly affected several markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, including reducing levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and C-reactive protein (CRP) and increasing total antioxidant capacity (TAC). These results suggest that ginger supplementation may reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. (12)
4. Cardiovascular benefits
Researchers continue to study the effects and benefits of ginger for cardiovascular health and cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD, a leading cause of death in the United States and Canada (10)(24), refers to a number of conditions relating to the heart including coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, aortic atherosclerosis, and peripheral artery disease. (21)(27)
A systematic review and meta-analysis that included 12 clinical trials examined the effects of ginger supplementation on certain lipid parameters associated with cardiovascular disease in adults. The study determined that ginger may reduce triacylglycerol (TAG) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels. These findings suggest that ginger had a favorable effect on these parameters, as elevated levels of blood lipids (e.g., TAG) and LDL-C are associated with cardiovascular disease. (1)(22) Researchers concluded that further well controlled studies are needed to confirm these results. (22)
A systematic review and meta-analysis examined whether ginger lowers blood pressure (BP). Results showed that supplementation lowered both systolic and diastolic BP significantly in a subset of participants who were older than 50 years on average, where a follow-up process that extended past 8 weeks was included, and who took a dose of less than 3 g per day. (9) These results suggest that ginger supplementation has a positive effect on BP; however, further studies are needed to confirm these results. (9)
5. Alleviates PMS
Supplementing with ginger may help alleviate symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS is common and refers to physical and emotional symptoms that may occur during the luteal phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle such as irritability, low mood, bloating, mood swings, and breast tenderness. (15)
A double-blinded clinical trial that examined the effect of ginger supplementation on the severity of premenstrual syndrome determined that ginger capsules may effectively address PMS. Women with PMS were assigned to either a control or intervention group, and after three months, women in the intervention group who had taken ginger daily had significantly less PMS than at the beginning of the study. These results show that supplementing with ginger significantly reduced the total score of PMS, physical and behavioral symptoms, and mood severity after one month. (14)
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic degenerative disorder that affects the bones and cartilage, leading to joint pain. (16) Researchers continue to examine the ginger benefits for OA and whether consuming ginger may be beneficial for alleviating symptoms of OA.
A 2015 meta-analysis of five trials that examined the efficacy of oral ginger in different forms in reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA) in patients with OA compared to controls determined that following ginger consumption, pain and disability were reduced in a statistically significant way. Due to the number of participants included (593) and one inconsistent measure of evaluation, researchers concluded that ginger may be a modestly effective and reasonably safe treatment for OA. (4)
A 2020 meta-analysis that examined the effectiveness of ginger on knee function and pain in patients with OA found no significant effect of topical ginger, or of oral ginger supplementation on knee functioning scores. However the authors did note significant impacts of oral ginger supplementation on pain scores. (3)
7. Type 2 diabetes
Researchers continue to examine the potential benefits of consuming ginger for individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by impaired insulin secretion and action leading to hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar levels) and increases a person’s risk for developing heart disease, stroke, blindness, and other complications. (20)
A double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial that assessed the effect of ginger on lipid profile, glycemic status, and certain inflammatory markers in 70 patients with type 2 diabetes determined that compared to the control group who consumed 1,600 mg of wheat flour as a placebo, patients who received 1,600 mg of powdered ginger rhizome (in capsule form) daily for 12 weeks had significantly improved insulin sensitivity and lipid profile as well as reduced makers of inflammation including CRP and PGE₂ compared to the control group. These results suggest that ginger may be an effective measure to prevent diabetes complications. (2)
Another study that examined the effect of ginger on lipid and glucose levels of 45 patients with type 2 diabetes determined that compared to the control group who received a placebo, patients in the intervention group who received 2,000 mg of ground ginger in capsule form per day for ten weeks saw no significant changes in concentrations of triglycerides, total cholesterol, or LDL-C and HDL-C cholesterol. However, the intervention group had significantly reduced serum levels of fasting blood glucose, hemoglobin A1C, and ratio of LDL/HDL, suggesting an association between these changes and supplementing with ginger. (17)
Ginger honey lemon tea recipe
There are a number of ways to consume ginger but here’s an easy recipe to make at home.
- 4 cups of water
- 2 tbsp of honey
- 1 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon
- One to two 1-inch pieces of peeled and grated ginger root
Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan or pot over medium-high heat. Add the grated ginger and lower the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for three minutes. Stir in the honey and lemon juice. Reduce the heat and carefully pour the tea into individual mugs or a teapot using a strainer to remove the grated ginger. Enjoy the tea once the temperature is safe for drinking.
Optional: Refrigerate the tea and consume it cold as an iced tea.
The bottom line
Ginger has been used for thousands of years in China and India and is still enjoyed globally for its health benefits, flavor, and versatility. Ginger and ginger tea benefits are impressive and varied. Ginger supplementation has been shown to alleviate nausea during pregnancy. Its antioxidant content may help reduce inflammatory markers such as CRP, certain physical and behavioral symptoms of PMS, pain associated with osteoarthritis, support gastric motility and some aspects of cardiovascular health such as blood pressure, and have a positive effect on markers of type 2 diabetes such as inflammation, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
If you’re considering supplementing with ginger, be sure to speak with your integrative healthcare practitioner first.
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