Ginger and its compounds perform a myriad of exciting functions within our bodies. Let’s take a look at how it functions and how you can use it in your everyday meals.
Because it acts as an antiemetic (aka: something that helps prevent vomiting,) ginger is traditionally used in cases of motion sickness, morning sickness, and post-surgical or because of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Ginger has also been shown to speed up gastrointestinal emptying, so may be a potential treatment for chronic indigestion.
Ginger’s active compounds have also been shown to help induce cancer cell death and hinder tumor growth of pancreatic cancer cells. Plus, ginger may also have a beneficial effect on glycemic control.
Ginger as a plant is closely related to turmeric, and like turmeric, also contains anti-inflammatory properties. These anti-inflammatory properties have been reported to provide protection against exercise-induced muscle pain, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Often times, ginger is eaten in its fresh, dried, or powdered form. You can include more ginger into your healthy eating plan in the following ways:
Choose Liquid Hope as a healthy soup since one of the spices included is ginger! Heat one pouch of Liquid Hope on the stove until warm.
Take a "shot" of kale, celery, ginger, and lemon juice in the morning. This blend of food helps support the body's own detoxification pathways.
Include ginger in "torn apart" sushi salads. Form the base of your salad with a greens blend and sea vegetables (like wakame or nori), add red peppers, sesame seeds, and minced ginger. Create a dressing made with sesame seed oil, organic shoyu, and wasabi (if you’re feeling brave!)
Add grated ginger on top of your morning oatmeal or over top of baked apples
Ginger, the root of a flowering plant, is used as a spice to flavor foods and also in integrative therapies. Typically used as a remedy for digestive concerns, like motion sickness, morning sickness, post-surgical nausea and vomiting, ginger touts some intriguing characteristics to potentially enhance health and healing. So why is ginger so great? Research points the answer to the active compounds present in ginger and their mechanisms of action as the reason why this powerful spice makes a difference in your health.
In June 2015, a review by Marx et. al demonstrated that ginger provided a significant reduction in nausea and vomiting, perhaps by the way ginger acts as a 5-HT3 antagonist. When serotonin is released into the small intestine (by chemotherapeutic drugs), the central nervous system signals a vomiting reflex. In the presence of ginger, however, the binding of serotonin to 5-HT3 receptors is inhibited and as a result, nausea and vomiting are suppressed.
Not only might ginger be good for helping avoid nausea and vomiting, but ginger may also play a role in cancer care. Compounds of ginger, 6-gingerol and 6-shogaol, have been shown to have anticancer activity thanks to their ability to induce cell death and hinder tumor growth of pancreatic cancer cells through angiogenesis. According to Akimoto et. al, the extract of Syussai ginger can induce a "marked cell growth retardation and cell death in a variety of tumor cells, which supports the possibility of applying ginger extract and its active constituents for treating cancers."
Ginger may also play a role in helping mitigate oxidative damage. In an in vitro study, 6-gingerol helped to significantly inhibit the production of nitric oxide, which can form the damaging free radical peroxynitrate. Additionally, gingerol may enhance antioxidant defense mechanisms through the induction of the NrF2 pathway. These same gingerol compounds have also been reported to decrease pain and improve mobility in patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial by Shidfar et. al demonstrated a marked improvement in glycemic indices for patients with Type 2 Diabetes. After three months, the intervention group receiving 3 grams of powdered ginger daily versus the placebo group showed statistically significant changes in serum glucose, HbA1c, insulin, and insulin resistance.
*Akimoto M, Iizuka M, Kanematsu R, Yoshida M, Takenaga K (2015) Anticancer Effect of Ginger Extract against Pancreatic Cancer Cells Mainly through Reactive Oxygen Species-Mediated Autotic Cell Death. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0126605. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0126605
Marx W, Ried K, McCarthy AL, Vitetta L, Sali A McKavanagh D, Isenring E., Ginger-Mechanism of Action in Chemotherapy-induced Nausea and Vomiting: A Review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2015 Apr 7:0. [Epub ahead of print]
Sahdeo Prasad and Amit K. Tyagi, "Ginger and Its Constituents: Role in Prevention and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Cancer," Gastroenterology Research and Practice, vol. 2015, Article ID 142979, 11 pages, 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/142979
Shidfar, F., Rajab, A., Rahideh, T., et al. (2015). The effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on glycemic markers in patients with type 2 diabetes. Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, 12(2), pp. 165-170. Retrieved 26 Jun. 2015, from doi:10.1515/jcim-2014-0021*