The fresh ginger you’re probably most familiar with is actually the root (rhizome) of a flowering plant, originating from southern China. Ginger is also available in dried powdered form as well as an ingredient in many herbal teas.
Ginger’s characteristic flavour and aroma is attributable to its natural volatile oils, gingerole, zingerone and shagaols, which are the main bioactive compounds in this spice.
Ginger is a powerful digestive aid with a reputation for alleviating nausea associated with morning sickness (Viljoen et al 2014), travel sickness (Lien et al 2003) and chemotherapy (Pillai et al 2011).
Most studies used a dosage of 1000mg (1g) powdered ginger per day, which is safe to use during pregnancy.
Pain Management via Anti-inflammatory Effects
As a powerful anti-inflammatory spice, multiple studies have indicated that ginger may be effective in reducing the joint pain associated with both rheumatoid (Al-Nahain et al 2014 and Phan et al 2005) and osteoarthritis (Paramdeep 2013).
For example, those taking ginger extract twice daily experienced a significant reduction in osteoarthritic knee pain and needed to take less pain medication after 6 weeks compared with those taking a placebo (Altman & Marcussen 2001).
Another study also found that 500-600mg powdered ginger each day for 3-4 days provided relief from migraine attack (Mustafa & Srivastava 1990).
Interestingly, a double-blinded placebo controlled randomised human trial (i.e. a very high level study) also found that taking 2g of ginger every day for 11 days resulted in a 25% reduction in exercise-induced muscle soreness (Black et al 2010).
Ginger alkaloids (i.e. gingerols and shogoals) are thought to exert these anti-inflammatory effects by reducing plasma C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation in the body) and IL-6 (an inflammatory molecule). However, the results of these studies are somewhat inconclusive as significant reductions in inflammatory markers were only seen in participants who were obese. The dosage was 250-750mg ginger capsules 4 times a day over 6-10 weeks to elicit the effects (Senchina et al 2014).
How to Enjoy Ginger
- add grated ginger to stir-fires along with a base of onion and garlic
- in winter, add a few slices of fresh ginger to a mug of hot water or hot herbal tea for a warming drink (I’m loving fresh ginger in green tea!)
- add dried ginger to biscuits or cake batter along with other dried spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg for a spicy twist on the original recipe
- grated fresh ginger also works well added to marinades for chicken, fish and meat dishes (e.g. honey soy ginger)
- top fresh fillets of fish with fresh ginger and lemon slices before baking in the oven wrapped in foil for a simple seafood dinner option
Stay tuned for a tasty recipe featuring ginger I’ll be sharing soon.
Al-Nahain et al (2014), ‘Zingiber officinale: A Potential Plant against Rheumatoid Arthritis, Arthritis.
Altman & Marcussen (2001) ‘Effects of ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis’, Arthritis and Rheumatism, 44(11): 2531-2538.
Black et al (2010), ‘Ginger (Zingiber officinale) Reduces Muscle Pain Caused by Eccentric Exercise’, The Journal of Pain, 11(9): 894-903.
Lien et al (2003), ‘Effects of ginger on motion sickness and gastric slow-wave dysrhythmias induced by circular vection, American Journal of Physiology Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, 284(3): G481-G489.
Mustafa & Srivastava (1990), ‘Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in migraine headache’, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 229(1):267-273.
Paramdeep (2013), ‘Efficacy and tolerability of ginger (Zingiber officinale) in patients with osteoarthritis of knee’, Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 57(2): 177-183.
Phan et al (2005), ‘Ginger extract components suppress induction of chemokine expression in human synoviocytes’, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 11(1): 149-154.
Pillai et al (2011), ‘Anti-emetic effect of ginger powder versus placebo as an add-on therapy in children and young adults receiving high emetogenic chemotherapy’, Pediatric Blood and Cancer, 56(2): 234-238.
Senchina et al (2014), ‘Alkaloids and athlete immune function: caffeine, theophylline, gingerol, ephedrine, and their congeners’, Exercise Immunology Review, 20(1): 68-93.
Viljoen et al (2014), ‘A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting’, Nutrition Journal, 13(20).