Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is a flowering plant that originated in Southeast Asia. It’s among the healthiest (and most delicious) spices on the planet. It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, and it’s closely related to turmeric, cardamom, and galangal. The rhizome (underground part of the stem) is the part commonly used as a spice. It’s often called ginger root or, simply, ginger. Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice. It’s a very common ingredient in recipes. It’s sometimes added to processed foods and cosmetics.
Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional and alternative medicine. It’s been used to aid digestion, reduce nausea, and help fight the flu and common cold, to name a few of its purposes. 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. It’s responsible for much of ginger’s medicinal properties.
Gingerol has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, according to research. For instance, it may help reduce oxidative stress, which is the result of having an excess amount of free radicals in the body.
Ginger appears to be highly effective against nausea. It may help relieve nausea and vomiting for people undergoing certain types of surgery. Ginger may also help chemotherapy-related nausea, but larger human studies are needed. However, 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.
However, this review concluded that ginger had no effect on vomiting episodes. Although ginger is considered safe, talk with your doctor before taking large amounts if you’re pregnant. It’s recommended that pregnant women who are close to labor or who’ve had miscarriages avoid ginger. Ginger is contraindicated with a history of vaginal bleeding and clotting disorders as well.
Ginger may play a role in weight loss, according to studies conducted in humans and animals. A 2019 literature review concluded that ginger supplementation significantly reduced body weight, the waist-hip ratio, and the hip ratio in people with overweight or obesity. A 2016 study of 80 women with obesity found that ginger could also help reduce body mass index (BMI) and blood insulin levels. High blood insulin levels are associated with obesity. Study participants received relatively high daily doses — 2 grams — of ginger powder for 12 weeks.
A 2019 literature review of functional foods also concluded that ginger had a very positive effect on obesity and weight loss. However, additional studies are needed. The evidence in favor of ginger’s role in helping prevent obesity is stronger in animal studies. Rats and mice who consumed ginger water or ginger extract consistently saw decreases in their body weight, even in instances where they’d also been fed high fat diets (14Trusted Source, 15, 16).
Ginger’s ability to influence weight loss may be related to certain mechanisms, such as its potential to help increase the number of calories burned or reduce inflammation.