Introduction

Ginger is a flowering plant whose rhizome is often used as a spice and in folk medicine. It is a common ingredient used for cooking. It is also used as a supplement to cure certain ailments. This article will discuss the health benefits, side effects, and other things you need to know about ginger. This knowledge will enable you to further appreciate the importance of this famous plant.

It was from Island Southeast Asia, such as China, Japan, and India that this plant had originated from. Its leafy stems and yellowish-green flowers make it easily identifiable. The famous spice of this plant is derived from the roots of the plant. It was first thought to survive only in warmer parts of Asia, such as China, Japan, and India. However, it is also now grown in South America and Africa. It is also used as medicine and food in the middle east. China produces more ginger than other countries.  In fact, their productivity of ginger is the highest in the world. In general, productivity is around 30 to 50 tons per hectare, depending on the cultivars.

Ginger is an herbaceous perennial; it grows annual false stem made of the rolled bases of leaves (pseudostem). This is often about a meter tall and bears a narrow leaf blade. One of the first spices that were exported from the Orient includes ginger. It was during the spice trade era it was first noticed in Europe. The ancient Greeks and Romans also identified the importance of this plant and used it extensively. It was referred to as “wild Ginger” due to its striking resemblance in taste with dicots in the genus Asarum.

The rhizomes and the leaves were eaten directly. However, they were also used to flavor food. The plant also has religious significance, especially among the Austronesians. They believe it can heal and protect them from evil spirits. Hence, they often use it while performing rituals. They also use it while pronouncing blessings for their ships. Besides, they also used the leaves to weave mats.

Ginger and turmeric (Curcuma longa), cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), and galangal all belong to the same familyZingiberaceae. It is indeed a famous plant used in different forms, including fresh, preserved, crystallized, dried, pickled, candied, and powdered or ground. Ginger is also distinct because of its somewhat peppery and slightly sweet flavor. It also has a strong and spicy aroma. Therefore, it is used as a supplement in various edible products.

There are other names used to also describe this plant. They include Race Ginger, Racine de Gingembre, Rhizoma Zingiberi, Zingiberis Rhizoma, Zingiberis Siccatum, Rhizoma, Zinzeberis, Rhizoma Zingiberis, Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens, Shen Jiang, Sheng Jiang, Shoga, Shokyo, Shunthi, Srungavera, Sunth, Sunthi, Vishvabheshaja, Zingiber Officinale, Zinziber Officinale, Zinziber Officinalis, African Ginger, Amomum Zingiber, Ardraka, Black Ginger, Cochin Ginger, Gan Jiang, Gingembre, Gingembre Africain, Gingembre Cochin, Gingembre Indien, Gingembre Jamaïquain, Gingembre Noir, Ginger Essential Oil, Ginger Root, Huile Essentielle de Gingembre, Imber, Indian Ginger, Jamaica Ginger, Jengibre, Jiang, Kankyo, and Kanshokyo, Nagara

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes this plant is a “generally safe” food additive. Various interests in the plant have emanated recently because it is believed that it contains natural chemicals that can ameliorate cancer. Colon cancer has been identified to be curable by ginger. Besides, another reason for the increased interest is that it is believed to be able to reduce cholesterol and improve lipid metabolism.

There are other common uses of ginger. These include making tea, tasty dishes, and sweets. Ginger is also used to manufacture soaps and cosmetics, where they are used as a fragrance.  About 2 percent of essential oil is present in ginger. Zingiberene is the principal component, while the pungent principle of the spice is zingerone. The oil is also distilled and used in the food and perfume industries.

Young ginger is juicy and fleshy. Hence, they are often pickled in vinegar or sherry and eaten as a snack. When the pieces of the root that have been steeped in boiling water is mixed with honey, it is used to make tea. Dry ginger is made into powder. It serves as a spice or ingredient for cookies, gingerbread, crackers, ginger ale, and cakes, and ginger beer when it is in this form.

Health benefits

Some of the benefits of ginger are as follows:

Improvement of Brain Function: Ginger helps to improve our brain function, and at the same time, it also protects against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. When it comes to the protection of noggin, ginger has some medical properties that help promote it. It helps the brain to work perfectly and accurately.

Protection Against Cancer: Another benefit of ginger is that it protects the body from any form of cancer; it is loaded with antioxidants that help protect the body from cancer; either breast cancer, bladder cancer, pancreas cancer, or lung cancer, because ginger is one of our most powerful anti-inflammatories, that can reduce and protect the risk of cancer.

Reduction of Menstrual Pain: Ginger also serves to relieve or reduce women’s menstrual pain because of the ginger root’s anti-inflammatory properties. It was recorded that a cup of ginger tea could help a woman who is getting tremendous pain during her menstrual period. And research shows that taking ginger powder 500-2000 mg during the first 3-4 days of a menstrual cycle modestly decreases pain in women and teens with painful menstrual periods.

It Helps Prevent Heart Disease: Frequent Ginger taking will lower blood sugar in the body, and it can reduce lipoproteins (a major risk factor for heart disease) from heart diseases.

Ginger is a Natural Painkiller: Ginger is so great in killing and reducing pain. Ginger contains substances known as gingerols that quash inflammation and turn off pain-causing compounds in the body. It reduces the muscle pain caused by exercise, soreness, morning sickness (nausea and vomiting in some pregnant women), joint pain, including arthritis.

It helps Reduce Stomach Pain and Discomfort: Ginger settles the stomach; it will calm your stomach and stave off bloating and gas. And likewise, Antioxidants in ginger protect the stomach and relieves the body from stomach pain or discomfort in any way.

Weight Loss: Taking ginger helps obese people lose weight to look good and smart.  It also helps to reduce big belly and to become moderate.

Digestion: Ginger helps to digest our just finished meal (heavy and light meals) quickly without affecting the body.

Cardiovascular health: Ginger aids in the reduction of cholesterol. This brings about the reduction of the danger of blood clotting. The implication of this is that healthy blood sugar levels are maintained. Pending further research, ginger will be ascertained as a cure for diabetes and heart disease.

It Helps You Look Young: Ginger heals the irritating skin to become fresh and will help you become young. Ginger contains antioxidants that aid the maintenance of the skin’s production of collagen. This bodes well for the elasticity and smoothness of the skin.

Fighting Cold and Flu: Ginger is useful in cold weather. It warms the body when we take hot ginger tea. And it helps against flu (influenza), the disease caused by virus to the airways and lungs of human beings.

Anti-Arthritis: As an anti-inflammatory agent, ginger is among the oldest compounds in use. It is also useful in osteoarthritis. This can be linked to its ability to inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandin and leukotriene.

Helps in Fighting Bad Breath: Ginger is well known as a natural combatant in masking mouth odor. It has a chemical named “gingerol” with an inviting and spicy smell. This chemical induces the enzyme involved in breaking substances that cause bad breath, using its own spicy flavor to mask any unpleasant odor from the oral cavity. People with halitosis seek ginger in various countries to ensure good oral health.

Side effects

Problems with Blood Pressure: Too much ginger may cause a problem with blood pressure. So it is noted that when you are on blood pressure-lowering medication, you must not take too much ginger inside of you because ginger can lower blood pressure (hypotension) way too much. Likewise, if you have high blood pressure and still take high doses of ginger, you will have high blood pressure (hypertension).

Causing Skin and Eye Irritation: Taking ginger in an abusive way can cause itching of eyes, skin redness, and skin inflammation. And these will make the skin looks irritating, and such a person will look old more than he/she should be.

Upset Stomach/Stomach Problem: If ginger has been taken into an empty stomach, it may lead to digestive distress, and it will cause an upset stomach or stomach problem since ginger itself has a benefit of digestion.

Might Not Be Safe During Pregnancy and Breast Feeding: Although ginger can reduce nausea in pregnant women, continuous ginger consumption can increase the risk of miscarriage unless the dosage is below 1500mg per day. Furthermore, mothers who have lost a quantity of blood during childbirth must be cautioned and abstain from ginger during early postpartum. Ginger can also cause spontaneous abortion or preterm delivery during pregnancy.

Taking ginger while breastfeeding a baby is not too good at all. It can cause and transfer some things to the baby, leading to health problems for the baby.

Bleeding Causes: Ginger in taking either in herbs or in dosage consumption can cause excessive menstrual bleeding because the ginger contains antiplatelet (blood-thinning) properties, which could cause blood bleeding, so, therefore, it must be taken with caution.

Mouth or Throat Irritation: when too much ginger is taken, it will affect the mouth, and it causes mouth itching, which may lead to an unpleasant taste in the mouth. And also, it can cause tingling and swelling of the mouth.

Heart Condition: Ginger can eventually intensify or aggravate (worsen) the heart condition when it is interfering with antihypertensive therapy. High doses of ginger can experience an undesirable drop in blood pressure, which can likely lead to irregularities in the heartbeat and may conclusively end up being the person’s breakdown or death.

Lower Blood Sugar: Actually, ginger is used to treat diabetes, but it can enhance the effects of the medication and cause hypoglycemia or too much of lowering blood sugar in the body when ginger is taken along with diabetes medications.

It May Lead to Diarrhoea and Heartburn: Humongous and large ginger quantities can widely cause diarrhea because it rushes and accelerates the food passage and stool through the intestines (both small intestine and large intestine).

Similarly, ginger, when taken in higher or overdoses (more than 4 grams per day) or when taken in large amounts, can cause indulge heartburn.

 Recommendation

The ginger can be generally taken by everybody in the world, but it must be consumed or taken excessively. The ideal dosage for ginger could be anywhere between 250mg to 1gram, 3 to 4 times daily. Pregnant women should be conscious of how she takes ginger per day. She must not take more than 1 gram each day.

For children between the ages of 2 and 6 years, they must not take more than 2mg of ginger root in a day. And for adults, they must not take more than 4 grams of ginger root per day

The medication contains ginger. And you must take note not to take African ginger, cochin ginger, imber, race ginger, black ginger, Jamaica ginger, rhizome, rhizome zingerberis, shokyo, zingibain, sheng jiang, Zingiber officinale. However, and notably, in 1930, thousands of Americans were poisoned and paralyzed by an illicit extract of Jamaican ginger (jake) that was used to circumvent Prohibition laws.

Summary and Review

Ginger is not only an extremely popular dietary condiment used for flavoring food but also an herb that has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal herb to treat a variety of ailments. The multiple uses of this plant are what has made it famous. Ginger has been reported to possess diverse pharmacological properties, although its specific biological targets are largely unknown and remain to be determined. However, despite the lack of specific mechanistic information, ginger’s use appears to be safe, and its effects are mighty and amazing in its many applications.

When you note any form of unhealthy in your body or any disorder (diabetes, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, cardiac disease), please inform the doctor before taking any ginger into your body system.  Ginger must be kept away from the children’s reach in case they overdose. But if such happens, get medical help from a doctor, or contact a Poison Control Centre as soon as possible.

The ginger extract significantly reduced the elevated expression of NFkappaB and TNF-alpha in rats with liver cancer. Ginger may act as an anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent by inactivating NFkappaB by suppressing the pro-inflammatory TNF-alpha.

References

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-ginger#section10

https://www.health24.com/Diet-and-nutrition/Healthy-foods/10-health-benefits-of-ginger-that-are-seriously-impressive-20181218

https://coach.nine.com.au/2018/07/27/17/42/the-top-10-surprising-health-benefits-of-ginger

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-961/ginger

https://selfhacked.com/blog/scientifically-proven-health-benefits-of-ginger/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265990.php

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginger

https://www.rxlist.com/consumer_ginger_african_ginger/drugs-condition.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/

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