This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Not just for upset stomachs anymore, ginger, the warming spice that adds zest and savory depth to so many recipes, has value far beyond its culinary uses. A study that shows ginger can benefit cardiovascular patients is just one in an ever-growing body of research that shows ginger’s properties can help alleviate an array of chronic conditions.
Nutritionist Janet Brill, Ph.D., noted that the researchers in Panta Medica found that -gingerol, a compound in ginger, functions in the body to curtail the production of angiotensin II, which is a highly potent vasoconstrictor that puts the squeeze on the arteries. When the arteries constrict, the blood pressure rises and the heart has to work harder. In effect, ginger works like a common class of blood pressure lowering drugs called ACE inhibitors.
Gingerol, as well as several other ginger compounds, has been studied and found to have health benefits. Here is what the research shows:
Osteoarthritis: Research published in the June 2006 issue of the Indian Journal of Rheumatology found ginger relieved symptoms of arthritis as effectively as the drug Indomethicin.
Motion Sickness: Some, but not all, studies show ginger works better than a placebo in reducing the vomiting and cold sweating associated with motion sickness. However, it did not alleviate nausea.
Morning Sickness: Studies indicate ginger can reduce the nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy when used no longer than four days.
Cholesterol and Blood Clotting: While more research is needed, a few preliminary studies show ginger may help reduce cholesterol and prevent blood clotting.
Cancer: A few studies show ginger can be helpful in fighting several cancers, including ovarian, lung, pancreatic, colon, breast, prostate, skin and pancreatic.
Antibiotic: Research indicates ginger has an antibacterial effect against some respiratory and gum infections. One study showed its effectiveness might surpass that of some antibiotics for certain bacterial strains.
Diabetes Prevention: Studies suggest ginger may play a role in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
Inflammation: Many scientists believe inflammation is a root cause of most chronic diseases, so several studies revealing the inflammatory properties of ginger suggest it might be helpful for a broad scope of illnesses.
Aside from the above conditions, ginger’s medicinal uses may extend to a wider spectrum of disorders. While it shows promise in benefiting other maladies, more research is needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn.
Side Effects and Precautions
Since ginger has the beneficial effects of preventing blood clots, reducing blood sugar and lowering blood pressure, it should not be taken with blood thinners, diabetes medication and high blood pressure medication.
No one with a bleeding disorder should take ginger. Those with heart conditions should be cautious, as high doses may make the condition worse. Check with your doctor before using this herb, as it may not be advisable to take it if you have certain illnesses or are on other medications.