Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has long been recognized for its soothing qualities, as well as its properties of improving digestion, helping those suffering from nausea, and reducing inflammation in the body. It is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and has also been shown to reduce muscle pain and soreness in the body.
Scientific analysis shows that ginger contains hundreds of compounds and metabolites, some of which may contribute to health and healing. Of these, the gingerols and shogaols have been most extensively researched. The phenolic compounds in ginger are known to help relieve gastrointestinal (GI) irritation, stimulate saliva and bile production, and suppress gastric contractions as food and fluids move through the GI tract. At the same time, ginger also appears to have beneficial effects on the enzymes trypsin and pancreatic lipase, and to increase motility through the digestive tract. This suggests ginger could help prevent colon cancer and constipation.
Ginger has often been used for various forms of pain reduction. A study involving 74 volunteers carried out at the University of Georgia found that daily ginger supplementation reduced exercise-induced muscle pain by 25 percent. Ginger has also been found to reduce the symptoms of dysmenorrhea, the severe pain that some women experience during a menstrual cycle.
Ginger has been used for centuries to reduce inflammation and treat inflammatory conditions. A study published in Cancer Prevention Research journal reported that ginger supplements reduced the risk of colorectal cancer developing in the bowel of 20 volunteers. Ginger has also been found to be "modestly efficacious and reasonably safe" for treating inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.Other possible uses include reducing cholesterol, lowering the risk of blood clotting, and helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. More research is needed, but if proven, ginger could become part of a treatment for heart disease and diabetes. Used for centuries as a culinary spice and a home remedy for various ailments, ginger has proven itself to be a wonderful herb with many medicinal uses.