I have had an exceptionally terrible cold for the past few days and have been drinking ginger tea at least twice a day soothe my soar throat. I learned about ginger tea from my grandmother during elementary school. Whenever I was sick, I would often stay at her house, and she would nurse me back to health with her kitchen concoctions and old Southern remedies. One of my grandmother’s favorite spices is ginger, and she always keeps a few fresh ginger roots in her medicinal arsenal to soothe her headaches and soar muscles. Today’s post is inspired by my grandmother’s love of ginger.

Ginger is the root of the plant Zingiber officinale, and it has been used for centuries as a food plant as well as a medicinal plant in Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine. Ginger was traditionally used in these forms of medicine to treat nausea, stroke, toothache, and asthma. The current health claims of ginger are it has anti-inflammatory properties, anti- cancer properties, anti-oxidant properties, anti-nausea properties, decreases muscle pain and soreness via its analgesic properties, lowers blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol levels, improves brain functioning, and fights infections. Although there are health claims about ginger, are these claims supported by scientific evidence?

Claim 1: Ginger aids in muscle pain and soreness

A study published in Phytotherapy Research tested ginger’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Researchers recruited 27 male and female participants to complete a total of 24 eccentric muscle activities on their non-dominant elbows over a three-day time period. After the elbow exercises were completed each day, the subjects were give either a two-gram placebo capsule containing white flower or a two-gram capsule of ginger. The subjects’ muscle pain intensity was measured with a visual analog scale, and the measurements were completed 45 minutes after the eccentric muscle exercises each day. Based on the results of the study, there was not a significant difference in muscle pain intensity from a single dose of ginger 45 minutes after eccentric muscle exercises. However, ginger may have attenuated muscle pain 24 hours after eccentric muscle exercises. There are a few problems with this study. This first problem is blood samples were not taken from the subjects, so the researchers were unaware of the bioavalibility of ginger in each person. The second problem with the study is inflammatory markers were not tested in the study, causing researchers to lack knowledge on the amount of inflammation the eccentric exercises caused. Also, the time frame between testing for muscle pain and taking the ginger supplements may not have been long enough to provide accurate results of ginger anti-inflammatory and muscle relief properties. Further studies need to occur before I am able to conclude on ginger’s analgesic properties.

Claim 2: Ginger lowers blood sugar levels.

A study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition supports claim 2. Researchers conducted a double blind placebo controlled clinical trial with 70 type 2 diabetics over a twelve-week interval. The subjects were divided into two groups: a control group who did not consume ginger and an experimental group who consumed 1600 mg of powdered ginger every day. The subjects were asked to not change their dietary patterns or physical activity, and they completed a 24-hour recall questionnaire, a food diary, and an an international physical activity questionnaire in order to control confounding variables. Blood glucose levels were taken from the subjects before and after the 12-week period. According to the results of this study, there were statistically significant reductions in the fasting plasma glucose and insulin of the experimental group and an increase in insulin sensitivity.

While ginger may not possess all of its health claim properties, it does provide some beneficial effects in humans.

Citations:

  1. Leech, John. “11 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger (No. 5 Is Insane).” Authority Nutrition. N.p., 26 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 Mar. 2016. 
  2. Black, Christopher D., and Patrick J. O’connor. “Acute Effects of Dietary Ginger on Muscle Pain Induced by Eccentric Exercise.” Res. Phytotherapy Research 24.11 (2010): 1620-626. Web. 17 Mar. 2016. 
  3. Arablou, Tahereh, Naheed Aryaeian, Majid Valizadeh, Faranak Sharifi, Aghafatemeh Hosseini, and Mahmoud Djalali. “The Effect of Ginger Consumption on Glycemic Status, Lipid Profile and Some Inflammatory Markers in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.” International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition4 (2014): 515-20. Web. 17 Mar. 2016.
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