Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a tropical plant that has an aromatic underground stem (called a rhizome). It is commonly used for cooking and medicinal purposes. Historically, ginger has been used for thousand of years in Asian medicine to treat stomach aches, nausea, colds, migraines, hypertension and diarrhea. Today, ginger is used as a folk or traditional remedy for postsurgery nausea; nausea caused by motion, chemotherapy, and pregnancy; rheumatoid arthritis; osteoarthritis; and joint and muscle pain.

What are the active components of ginger?

-gingerols (gingerol is believed to exert a variety of pharmacological and physiological activities. Ginger’s strong and spicy aroma is also due to gingerols)

Ginger and its metabolites appear to accumulate in the gastrointestinal tract, so it’s not surprising that ginger exerts many of its effects in this area.

Ginger was reported to decrease age-related oxidative stress markers. (The presence of oxidative stress is associated with numerous diseases).Ginger compounds also effectively inhibit superoxide production (Krishnakantha and Lokesh 1993).

Ginger tea is a beverage in many countries, made from ginger root. In China, the tea is made by boiling peeled and sliced ginger to which brown sugar is often added.

Possible side effects: gas, bloating, heartburn, and nausea. Few side effects are linked to ginger when it is taken in small doses.

Ginger is on the FDA‘s “generally recognized as safe” list, though it does interact with some medications, including warfarin. Ginger is contraindicated in people suffering fromgallstones. Don’ t give ginger to children under 2., Pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding should talk to their doctor before taking ginger.

–Sources: 1. NCCAM, 2., 3. NCBI,  Benzie IFFWachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press; 2011. Chapter 7., photo: Pixabay