Cultures worldwide have hailed ginger for its culinary and therapeutic properties since ancient times. People enjoy and benefit from using the plant's root fresh, dried, and powdered, and ginger tea and essential oils are popular as well. The spice imparts exotic, peppery flavor, and researchers are still uncovering its health-enhancing qualities. The root of ginger's therapeutic benefits is its bevy of powerful bioactive compounds called phenols. These phytochemicals possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties scientifically shown to help prevent or reduce symptoms of many common ailments.
Asthma is a condition of chronic inflammation of the airways. A 2019 study by the Mazandaran University of Medical Science in Iran demonstrated that ginger extract could control asthma and reduce its severity by influencing the primary cells involved in asthma symptoms. Earlier research found that gingerols and shogaol promote relaxation of smooth muscle in the airways.
Traditional homeopathy has long utilized ginger to treat constipation, diarrhea, and other ailments of the digestive tract. In 2017, researchers at the University of Bologna found that a concentration of ginger root demonstrated significant beneficial effects on intestinal smooth muscle. They believe that these effects are due to the phytomarkers 6-gingerol, 8-gingerol, and 6-shogaol.
Shogaols in ginger demonstrate potent anti-cancer potential in several clinical trials. A 2015 study pinpointed strong anti-cancer stem cell activity in the subjects. Shogaols show promise in mitigating cancer cell growth and development for pancreatic, ovarian, and prostate cancers. The study noted that the concentrations at which the cancer-fighting effects occurred were safe for non-cancerous cells.
Diabetes is an escalating global health concern affecting roughly 400 million adults worldwide. Hyperglycemia, the major symptom of diabetes, is a dangerous condition that can lead to nerve damage and, in severe cases, even diabetic coma. The results of a 2013 study by the Zanjan Metabolic Disease Research Center suggest ginger helps reduce insulin resistance and inflammation considerably. Investigators report that gingerol, flavonoids, and tannins have hypoglycemic properties. More recent research shows the potential health benefits of ginger on glycemic status, beta-cell function, and lipid profile. Consumption of powdered ginger can lower fasting insulin blood glucose levels, and insulin resistance in participants. The results suggest ginger as a supplementary therapy for people with type 2 diabetes.
For many women, cramps and nausea accompany each monthly period. They often seek relief from over-the-counter medications, but ginger teahas the potential to reduce dysmenorrhea just as effectively. Growing bodies of research observe that phenols in the root possess analgesic and anti-inflammatory characteristics. These compounds inhibit the production of chemicals that cause inflammation and painful uterine contractions as effectively several conventional drugs.
Streptococcus mutans is a bacterium largely responsible for the development of tooth decay. Zerumbone, a biomolecule in ginger, appears to exert a potent antimicrobial influence on the infectious organisms. A recent study in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine tested various concentrations of zerumbone, and all eradicated the bacteria. The study's authors believe this phenol holds immense potential as a preventive and therapeutic agent for oral health.
Age-related neurological disorders (ANDs) generally develop from chronic oxidative stress and neuroinflammation. Research indicates ginger has remarkable therapeutic potential for these maladies due to the structure and interactions of its phytonutrients. Specifically, 6-gingerol, 6-shogaol, zingerone, dehydrozingerone, and 6-paradol could help alleviate symptoms of ANDs by targeting certain cellular molecules.
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation imposes considerable stress on the skin. UV rays are linked to oxidative stress, DNA damage, gene mutation, premature skin aging and wrinkles, and skin cancer. Ginger extracts and gingerol, shagaol, zerumbone, and zingerone consistently demonstrate potential to reduce UV-induced toxicity. These phytochemicals amplify the herbâ€™s anti-photoaging and skin-protective properties.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an incurable autoimmune disease that affects the joints. A 2019 clinical trial noted a marked reduction in RA activity in participants with ginger supplementation. The study's authors surmise that ginger may ease RA symptoms by increasing and decreasing certain gene expressions that affect immunity and inflammation.
Multiple sclerosis is an incurable disease in which the immune system breaks down the protective covering of the nerves. Extensive research highlights the immune-enhancing and anti-inflammatory properties of ginger, leading scientists to consider its therapeutic promise. A review article published in the Journal of Neuroimmunology states that this potential lies in regulating immune responses, suppressing inflammasomes, reducing oxidative stress, and other functions.
Obesity is an increasing global epidemic and a major risk factor for a plethora of illnesses including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and infertility. In 2017, Phytotherapy Research published a systematic review of dozens of studies that hint at ginger's anti-obesity effects. The research suggests fresh ginger and ginger tea may enhance weight management by increasing lipolysis and thermogenesis, inhibiting intestinal fat absorption, and suppressing appetite.
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