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The root of the ginger plant has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2,500 years, but only in recent decades has science begun to truly unravel the mysteries of ginger’s health benefits. Here are 10 ways to benefit from this flavorful herb:
1. Antioxidant Power
Antioxidants help to prevent all forms of disease and slow aging. A study of more than 120 plant foods, published in the Journal of Nutrition, ranked ginger among the five richest food sources of antioxidants, along with berries, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pomegranates. Test-tube and animal research has shown that ginger suppresses the production of free radicals and also enhances the body’s internal production of antioxidants.
2. Nausea Prevention
Perhaps the best-known ginger benefit is its ability to prevent and treat nausea. Many studies have found that ginger can help prevent motion sickness. One study, published in the Journal of Travel Medicine, found that among 1,741 tourists on a six-hour whale-watching boat trip, 500 mg of ginger prevented seasickness as well as the need for motion sickness medications. In other research, pregnant women who took ginger experienced less nausea and vomiting than those who took a placebo. During pregnancy, 1 g daily for up to four days is considered safe.
3. Pain & Migraine Relief
Numerous studies have validated ginger’s natural anti-inflammatory properties. In a study of 247 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, published in Arthritis and Rheumatism, a ginger extract significantly reduced knee pain when standing and walking, and those taking ginger needed less pain medication. Other research found that ginger relieved muscular pain. Several other studies have shown that dried ginger root may be a powerful herb for easing and preventing migraines.
4. Digestive Support
A traditional remedy for stomach upset, ginger helps to eliminate gas and soothes the intestinal tract. It can be taken as a supplement or eaten with meals. The pickled form, which often accompanies dishes at Asian restaurants, is believed to offer at least as many of the health benefits as the fresh form. Candied ginger, as long as it contains a significant amount of real ginger, can be a soothing treat and is great for baking.
5. Aid for Cancer Patients
Ginger may reduce nausea occurring as a side effect from chemotherapy treatment. And, test-tube studies have shown that the beneficial qualities found in ginger may even offer some protection against cancer.
6. Heart Health
7. Versatile Remedy
Traditional benefits of ginger include treating diarrhea, menstrual cramps, headaches, and colds and flu. Several popular cold-and-flu formulas, such as Wellness Formula by Source Naturals and Cold Formula Tea by Traditional Medicinals, contain ginger. As a spice, it has been used for more than 4,000 years.
8. Safe for Kids
For kids over 2 years of age, ginger is a remedy for nausea, motion sickness, stomach cramps, and headaches. Gaia Herbs manufactures a tasty liquid extract, Tummy Tonic, specifically for treating digestive complaints in children.
9. Healthy Soda
Although most ginger ales and sodas are not made with real ginger and may contain unhealthy additives and high-fructose corn syrup, soda made with real ginger is a good choice. For example, Reed’s Craft Ginger Beer is made with fresh ginger and other natural ingredients.
10. Zesty Flavor
Fresh ginger adds flavor to vegetable dishes and salad dressings—and even ice cream. For a cooling summertime (or anytime!) treat, try our Lemony Ginger Tahini Ice Cream recipe.
How Much to Take
Adult daily dose: Try 2–4 grams daily of fresh root, 250–1,000 mg of powdered root, or 30–90 drops (1.5–3 mL) of a liquid extract, or follow product directions for standardized extracts. Topical ginger oil may be rubbed on painful joints.
Children 2 and older: Adjust dose in proportion to body weight, based on adult doses set for a 150-pound person. For example, a child weighing 37 pounds would require a quarter of the adult dose.