Ginger is a common ingredient in dishes all around the world. It’s the star in gingerbread, it makes stir-fry smell and taste so delicious and it’s used as a seasoning in many Indian recipes. Ginger is also a common ingredient in several Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese dishes. But not only is this spice used in main meals, it has been used in drinks. While ginger enjoys a popular status in food, it has also been used for medicinal purposes.
For thousands of years, ginger has been used as a remedy for various conditions such as nausea, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, menstrual pain and colds.
Given its many benefits, are there some drawbacks to using ginger at all? Here’s a look at both sides of the story:
List of Pros of Ginger
1. It improves blood flow
Chromium, magnesium and zinc are found in ginger and can help with maintain normal blood circulation. These components can also prevent chills, excessive sweat and fever.
2. It alleviates motion sickness
Ginger can minimize symptoms associated with motion sickness such as nausea, dizziness, vomiting and cold sweating. It has also been used to alleviate mild symptoms associated with pregnancy sickness such as nausea and vomiting. Although the exact reason for its effectiveness in treating motion sickness is unknown, a study involving naval cadets given ginger powder showed them suffering less.
3. It improves absorption of nutrients
We all need essential nutrients for our well-being and these needs to be absorbed by the body. Ginger is able to do this by stimulating gastric and pancreatic enzyme secretion.
4. It prevents cold and flu
For a thousand years, ginger has been used to treat colds and flu in many parts of Asia. To use ginger to alleviate cold and flu symptoms in adults, steep two tablespoons of freshly shredded or chopped ginger root in hot water, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center – and do this two to three times a day as well. Or, it could be as simple as making a ginger drink mixed with honey and feel its soothing effect.
5. It helps with digestion
Since ginger aids with digestion, food absorption is enhanced and therefore any possible stomach ache is avoided. Ginger has also been known to reduce inflammation the same way aspirin and ibuprofen does.
6. It minimizes pain and inflammation
Ginger is a natural painkiller given it has many anti-inflammatory fighting substances.
7. It helps fight common respiratory problems
Cough is one of the most common respiratory diseases known to man and when one is suffering from it, taking ginger helps alleviate the problem. The expectorant properties of ginger help it expand the lungs and loosen phlegm. As such, mucus is effectively broken down and removed. As a result, someone suffering from a cough will find it a lot easier to breathe.
8. It strengthens immunity
There are a couple of ways ginger can improve the immune system. For one, it inhibits fatty deposits from the arteries when taken in small amounts each day which may prevent the risk of a stroke. Ginger also reduces bacterial infections in the stomach.
9. It is used in ovarian cancer treatment
Ginger powder is used in this case and it has shown to induce cell death in ovarian cancer cells.
10. It may prevent colon cancer
A University of Minnesota study shows that ginger may slow the growth of colorectal cancer cells.
11. It makes a delicious ingredient in food and beverages
Of course, one of the best things about ginger is its use in food and beverages. It’s used in just about anything – appetizers, main dishes, drinks and even dessert. It’s a key ingredient in Indian cuisine, both fresh ginger and the powdered varieties. Ginger can also be picked in vinegar or sherry thus making a lovely snack. It can even be turned into ginger wine, something that has been done since 1740. Of course, ginger is also the star of ginger ale.
List of Cons of Ginger
1. It has certain side effects
Ginger has few side effects when taken in small doses but it can cause the following:
- Upset stomach
- Mouth irritation
When taken in higher doses, the symptoms listed above have a greater chance of manifesting themselves. In this case, higher doses mean taking more than five grams a day.
2. It can cause rashes
This is particularly true when in contact with the skin.
3. It lowers the levels of glucose in the blood
This is dangerous for diabetics in particular. As such, they should be wary about the consumption of too much ginger. When combined with existing medication, it can drop blood glucose levels really low.
4. It is dangerous for those with high blood pressure
People with high blood pressure who take calcium channel blockers should be wary about consuming ginger in large quantities.
5. It is risky during pregnancy
The use of ginger in pregnancy is a much debated topic. It has been used to alleviate nausea and vomiting for pregnant women making it a natural choice for those experiencing morning sickness. Although it has been suggested to cause fetal malformations, there has been no link proving as such. However, ginger is known as an anti-coagulant which can increase the risk of bleeding therefore making it risky for expectant mothers close to their due date. The rule of thumb for taking ginger during pregnancy is this: always ask your doctor. Yes, it may be a natural ingredient but it does contain properties that may be harmful for you.
There’s a movement to use more natural ingredients rather than drugs to treat a wide range of illnesses because it’s safer and cost-effective. Ginger belongs in the natural category of remedies but despite its many benefits, getting too much of it can also spell trouble down the road. Ginger has been used in many cuisines around the world for thousands of years and it has shown its effectiveness in alleviating certain medical issues. However, just like the consumption of food, it should be taken in moderation.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.