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Ginger (Adrak): Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

By Dr Anuja Bodhare +2 more

Introduction:

A perennial herb belonging to the Zingiberaceae family, ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) is one of the most extensively consumed food and herbal spices in the world today. Owing to its favourable attributes of aroma and biological and pharmacological activities, ginger has served as an essential ingredient in traditional Chinese, Ayurveda and Unani medicine across centuries. Native to South-East Asia, the ginger rhizome has witnessed its widespread use in countries like China, India and the USA to manage a range of conditions, including cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea etc. Fresh root ginger, preserved ginger in syrup form and dried ginger spice are the three routinely available forms of ginger in the market.1-4

Nutritional Value of Ginger:

The nutritional content of the seeds of ginger is:

ginger benefits

NutrientValue
Protein9%
Carbohydrate60-70%
Fibre3-8%
Fat3-6%
Water9-12%

Table1: Nutrients found in Ginger2,4

Also Read: Clove: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects and More!

 Properties of Ginger:

Rich in various biologically active compounds like phenolic and flavonoids, ginger might possess a wide range of beneficial properties. These may include,

  • It may have antioxidant activity,
  • It may have anti-inflammatory action,
  • It may have anti-cancer activity,
  • It may have antimicrobial activity
  • It may benefit in keeping a healthy weight.
  • It may boost blood glucose tolerance
  • It may augment lipid profile. 4,5

Did you know?

Potential Uses of Ginger:

Ginger may have potential uses for various conditions; however, more human studies are needed to support its true extent in humans.

Potential uses of ginger for inflammatory diseases:

Ginger (Adrak) and its extracts may cause attenuation of inflammatory diseases like colitis. This might be attributed to its active compounds that may be involved in the suppression of the pro-inflammatory transcription factors (NF-KB) and cytokines (TNF-α).5,6,7 However, there is a need for further research on humans to suggest the potential uses of ginger that might benefit inflammatory diseases.

Potential uses of ginger for antioxidant activity:

The active constituent of ginger, 6-Gingerol, may have significant antioxidant activity against the oxidative stress exhibited by free radicals like reactive oxygen species.5,6 This information is insufficient; hence more research is required to study the effects of ginger in managing oxidative stress in humans.

Potential uses of ginger for antimicrobial activity:

Ginger may have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral activities. The growth inhibition of various microbes may be attributed to biological mechanisms, including the suppression of the biofilm formation that is integral to antimicrobial resistance.5 However, more human trials are required to evaluate the antimicrobial activities of ginger.

Potential uses of ginger for anti-cancer activity:

The anti-cancer activity of ginger and its biological constituents may have been illustrated against several cancer types, including breast, prostate, liver, colorectal, and cervical cancer.2,5 Biological mechanisms like the inhibition of cancer cell proliferation and triggering of apoptosis may have accounted for the anti-cancer properties displayed by ginger.5 However, this data is insufficient as there is no evidence of successful human trials of ginger in managing cancer. Cancer is a severe health condition and requires adequate diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, a doctor’s consultation is necessary.

Potential uses of ginger for neural conditions:

According to Talebi et al. 2021,  ginger and it’s biological compounds may have displayed beneficial effects in managing a range of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease by positively impacting memory function.8 Ginger may be effective in managing migraines and the associated symptoms of headache and nausea.9 However, more studies are required to provide the benefits of ginger in managing neural conditions of humans.

Potential uses of ginger for the cardiovascular system:

The heart benefitting activities of ginger against cardiovascular diseases like stroke and coronary heart disease may have been documented. This may be brought about by attenuating the known risk factors for elevated blood lipids and high blood pressure.2,5,6 This information is insufficient and requires more studies to support this claim. Therefore, consult an Ayurvedic doctor before using ginger and only use it if prescribed.

Potential uses of ginger for weight management:

Consumption of ginger may be fruitful in the overall management of weight. It may help in lowering the body mass index. Furthermore, the oral consumption of ginger powder may have been found to stimulate the thermoregulatory function and fat breakdown in humans.5,6,10 We require more studies on humans to suggest the potential use of ginger in managing weight.

Potential uses of ginger for diabetes:

Ginger has been demonstrated to have beneficial effects against metabolic syndromes like diabetes mellitus by significantly lowering the blood glucose levels and subsequently increasing insulin sensitivity.4,5 However, more studies on humans are needed to provide evidence  the effect of ginger in managing blood sugar levels in the body. Diabetes is a serious health condition that requires appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, please consult a doctor and use ginger to manage blood sugar if prescribed by your doctors.

Potential uses of ginger for nausea and vomiting:

Ginger may have shown its efficacy in the management of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy as well as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.4,11 People should consult a doctor before using ginger to manage nausea and vomiting and never use it to self-medicate.

Potential uses of ginger for the respiratory system:

Ginger may have bronchodilation activity (relaxation of the airway smooth muscles). It may benefit in managing respiratory disorders like asthma.5 However, this information is insufficient and needs support from human trials. Therefore, people should consult a doctor before using it to manage human asthma-related issues.

Potential uses of ginger for liver:

The phenolic compounds of ginger may have demonstrated the liver- benefiting effects in terms of enhancing overall liver functioning. However, this information is insufficient, and there is a need for more studies to establish the positive impact of ginger on improving liver health.

Potential uses of ginger for allergies:

The anti-allergic activity of ginger in managing allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose) by suppressing the cytokine production for activation of T cells has been documented.2,5 However, this study information is insufficient to suggest its effect on overcoming allergies in humans. If you experience allergic reactions, immediately rush to the hospital and take appropriate treatment from your doctors.

Potential uses of ginger for pain-killing activity:

Ingestion of ginger might have displayed significant effects in relieving primary pain. Additionally, ginger has shown substantial benefits in managing musculoskeletal pain and rheumatoid arthritis.4,6 However, more studies are required to suggest the beneficial effects of ginger in alleviating pain in the human body.

Though studies show the benefits of ginger in various health conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of ginger on human health.

If you have period cramps, I might suggest you try ginger. It contains a powerful compound called gingerol, which has antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation. This makes ginger beneficial for conditions related to inflammation and might even provide relief from pain, like period cramps.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Also Read: Ashwagandha: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

How to Use Ginger?

Ginger might be used as:

  • Fresh ginger: Fresh root ginger, consumed as a vegetable. .2,8
  • Dried ginger: It is utilised in the form of spice. Dried ginger is extracted to acquire ginger oil, which is used as a food-flavouring agent in soft drinks like ginger ale, in a variety of confectionaries, as well as a preservative agent.1
  • Ginger leaves: The leaves of ginger have been utilised as a flavouring agent in various food items.1 
  • Concoction: According to Ayurveda, ginger might be used to prepare a concoction with milk, honey or water.8

Your Ayurvedic physician will prescribe the form and dosage per your health condition. In addition, we recommend you do not change or discontinue your ongoing medications with ayurvedic or herbal preparations of ginger without consulting a qualified physician.

I want to emphasise that if you have a bleeding disorder or if you are taking blood-thinning medications, it’s crucial to exercise caution when it comes to ginger. In these situations, it is recommended that you avoid taking ginger. This is because ginger has the potential to interact with these conditions or medications, which could have adverse effects.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Also Read: Sesame Seeds: Uses Benefits, Side Effects and More!

Side Effects of Ginger (Adrak):

The US Food and Drug Administration has categorised ginger in the ‘Generally Recognised as Safe’ list of substances.8 The overall incidence of adverse events associated with the use of ginger has been limited so far. However, the most common side effects reported so far typically include heartburn, abdominal discomfort and diarrhoea.12 You must consult a doctor if you wish to consume ginger in higher quantities for its health benefits.

Moreover, if you experience side effects after taking ginger, immediately contact an Ayurvedic physician who has prescribed it. They will tell you about the proper treatment for your side effects.

I might tell you something fascinating about ginger! It has been observed to have the potential in managing mild to moderate cases of motion sickness. So, if you’re prone to feeling queasy during car rides or boat trips, incorporating ginger into your routine might be helpful.

Dr. Smita barode, B.A.M.S, M.S.

Also Read: Is Ginger Ale Good For You? Evaluating Health Facts and Myths

Precautions to Take With Ginger:

Regular consumption of ginger might be safe when taken in moderation. However, general precautions must be followed.

  • As far as the consumption of ginger by pregnant and breastfeeding women is concerned, no notable concerns regarding health safety have been reported.13 Thus, during these times, women should consult their doctors before having ginger as herb.
  • One must be cautious while giving ginger to children and older people. They might develop reactions in the body.
  • Before consulting, people should never use ginger as herb to self-medicate themselves on their own.
  • However, there is a need to address the potential harms and benefits associated with ginger, which will further help benefit patient satisfaction.11

Also Read: Alum: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Interactions With Other Drugs:

There is not enough scientific information about the interactions of ginger with any other medicines. However, people should not assume that there are no interactions at all. Therefore, it is always better to follow the advice of an Ayurvedic doctor. They will prescribe you the best way to take it as a herb.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Which is better amongst ginger root and ginger powder?                                                                                                        

Both may have their merits. Fresh ginger root might be helpful in managing vomiting and nausea. On the other hand, dried ginger grounded into powder may be used as a preservative agent, symbolising its long shelf life.1,8

Is too much consumption of ginger bad for you?

Ginger (Adrak) might be considered safe for consumption owing to the few side effects reported.12 However, any herbal remedy prescribed alongside drugs might potentially manifest some severe adverse reactions. Consequently, adequate cautions must be undertaken for the susceptible individuals, including pregnant women and children.4

Is ginger popular throughout the world?

Yes. Considering the wide range of applications of ginger and its active compounds, it is one of the most widely consumed spices/ herbs globally.14 The medicinal use of ginger for managing numerous ailments dates back over 2000 years. It has been an integral part of Chinese and Indian traditional medicine.2,8

Can pregnant women consume ginger?

 Consumption of ginger has not presented with any noticeable side effects among pregnant women.13 Conversely, ginger and its biological constituents may have beneficial effects on nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy. However, it must be taken under the supervision of a doctor.11

Does ginger have any benefits for hair?

The biologically active constituent of ginger, 6-Gingerol, might play a vital role in the metabolism of hair follicles, subsequently benefitting overall hair health.4 However, this information is insufficient and requires more studies on humans to suggest its effect on hair. Therefore, one should not use ginger to self-medicate themselves; a doctor’s consultation is necessary.

References:

  1. Shahrajabian M, Sun W, Cheng Q. Clinical aspects and health benefits of ginger (Zingiber officinale) in both traditional Chinese medicine and modern industry. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B – Soil & Plant Science. 2019;69(6):546-556.
  2. Zhang M, Zhao R, Wang D, Wang L, Zhang Q, Wei S et al. Ginger ( Zingiber officinale Rosc.) and its bioactive components are potential resources for health beneficial agents. Phytotherapy Research. 2020;35(2):711-742.
  3. De Lima R, dos Reis A, de Menezes A, Santos J, Filho J, Ferreira J et al. Protective and therapeutic potential of ginger (Zingiber officinale) extract and [6]-gingerol in cancer: A comprehensive review. Phytotherapy Research. 2018;32(10):1885-1907.
  4. Kiyama R. Nutritional implications of ginger: chemistry, biological activities and signaling pathways. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2020;86:108486.
  5. Mao Q, Xu X, Cao S, Gan R, Corke H, Beta T et al. Bioactive Compounds and Bioactivities of Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe). Foods. 2019;8(6):185.
  6. Jiang T. Health Benefits of Culinary Herbs and Spices. Journal of AOAC INTERNATIONAL. 2019;102(2):395-411.
  7. Bischoff-Kont I, Fürst R. Benefits of Ginger and Its Constituent 6-Shogaol in Inhibiting Inflammatory Processes. Pharmaceuticals. 2021;14(6):571.
  8. Talebi M, Ä°lgün S, Ebrahimi V, Talebi M, Farkhondeh T, Ebrahimi H et al. Zingiber officinale ameliorates Alzheimer’s disease and Cognitive Impairments: Lessons from preclinical studies. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 2021;133:111088.
  9. Andrade C. Ginger for Migraine. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2021;82(6).
  10. Wang J, Ke W, Bao R, Hu X, Chen F. Beneficial effects of gingerZingiber officinale Roscoeon obesity and metabolic syndrome: a review. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2017;1398(1):83-98.
  11. Shawahna R, Taha A. Which potential harms and benefits of using ginger in the management of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy should be addressed? a consensual study among pregnant women and gynecologists. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2017;17(1).
  12. Crichton M, Davidson A, Innerarity C, Marx W, Lohning A, Isenring E et al. Orally consumed ginger and human health: an umbrella review. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2022.
  13. Laekeman G, Van Calsteren K, Devlieger R, Sarafanova E, Van Limbeek J, Dierckxsens Y. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) Root Extract During Pregnancy: A Clinical Feasibility Study. Planta Medica. 2021;87(10/11):907-912.
  14. Liu Y, Liu J & Zhang Y. Research Progress on Chemical Constituents of Zingiber officinale Roscoe. BioMed Research International. 2019:1-21.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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