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Ginger for Immunity, Digestion, and Hormones

What You Will Learn in This Article

  • The benefits of ginger
  • How ginger helps boost immunity
  • How ginger helps digestive health
  • How ginger helps balance hormones
  • The best way to enjoy ginger to reap the most benefits
  • Delicious ginger recipes

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a strong-tasting spice with powerful benefits. It’s well known for curbing nausea and inflammation, and so it’s often recommended for motion sickness and menstrual pain. However, its benefits reach far beyond a queasy stomach. It’s truly a superfood that can help you be more resilient and balanced in all systems of your body.

As a truly medicinal spice, ginger has a long history of use. It’s been used therapeutically in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and in Ayurvedic Medicine for centuries. Traditional uses for this spice include nausea, colds, arthritis pain, migraines, and high blood pressure. (1) It’s also a popular cooking ingredient in these cultures, enjoyed in both meat- and vegetable based dishes.

As a health tonic, ginger is typically given at a dosage of 1 gram, and it can be consumed by a number of different ways:

  • Ginger capsules (1 gram capsules)
  • Freshly grated ginger (1 teaspoon)
  • Liquid ginger extract (2 droppers full or 2 milliliters)
  • Ginger syrup (2 teaspoons)
  • Ginger tea (4 cups of tea, with ½ teaspoon grated ginger in each 8 ounce cup)
  • Real ginger ale (one 8 ounce cup)
  • Crystallized ginger (2 pieces that are 1-inch square and ¼-inch thick) (2)

The Benefits of Ginger

To begin with, this potent spice is as packed with antioxidants as it is with flavor. Research has shown that ginger has over 50 different types of antioxidants. (3) Due to its antioxidants, ginger helps your body deal with oxidative stress and combats inflammation levels (4).

Ginger has benefits for many systems of the body. It can boost metabolism, support energy production, support the immune system, lower histamine, and especially support the digestive system. It even has antispasmodic properties, so it can calm stressed muscles and alleviate cramps. (5, 6)

Some additional known benefits, according to research, include the following: (7)

  • Antioxidant activity
  • Anti-inflammatory activity
  • Improving allergies
  • Combating infections
  • Blood sugar balancing
  • Slowing weight gain
  • Brain protection (lowering inflammation and promoting nerve regeneration)
  • Respiratory support (relaxing and opening the airways)
  • Cardiovascular support
  • Liver support
  • Immune support (including lowering cancer risk)

Ginger can also help promote lymphatic flow by reducing inflammation, promoting circulation, and acting as a diuretic. So, it’s a great addition to any detox program. (8) Ginger is a cleansing spice that can help you get rid of unwanted toxins and pathogens. Try Lemon Ginger Tea on your next detox.

How Ginger Helps Boost Immunity

Ginger is a potent spice to have during cold and flu season. It has the ability to strengthen your immune system so that you’re ready for whatever’s being passed around. Specifically, animal studies have shown that ginger extract increases Immunoglobulin M (IgM) and Immunoglobulin G (IgG) concentrations in the body, indicating enhanced immune function. (9, 10)

Ginger also helps fight certain bacteria and viruses. Not only that, but ginger has specifically been shown to fight against hospital-acquired infections that are resistant to traditional drugs. For example, a ginger extract was shown to be effective against Bacillus sp., E. coli, and P. aeruginosa, which can be life-threatening infections – particularly if they have become resistant to the standard drug treatment. (11)

Animal and cell studies also confirm that ginger has anti-viral properties. Viruses ginger has anti-viral activity against include the human respiratory syncytial virus, the avian virus (bird flu), and the Chikungunya virus. (12, 13, 14). More research is needed to learn whether ginger would also be effective against other viruses in humans.

Plus, because this powerful herb lowers inflammation in the body, it allows the immune system to respond more appropriately.

How Ginger Helps Digestive Health

Ginger shines when it comes to digestion, working its benefits throughout the digestive system, from the mouth, to the stomach, to the liver, to the large intestine/colon (15):

  • Ginger stimulates saliva production, helping you prepare for food.
  • Ginger supports timely emptying of the stomach.
  • Ginger can help ease indigestion.
  • Ginger may protect against ulcers in the stomach.
  • Ginger stimulates bile secretion.
  • Ginger lowers inflammation throughout the digestive system.
  • Ginger fights against cancer cells in the colon.

Ginger is the go-to for nausea (motion sickness or morning sickness) and as well as general stomach upset. It’s a spice to include on a regular basis to improve your digestion.

How Ginger Helps Balance Hormones

Ginger is beneficial for the thyroid, insulin levels, and lowering testosterone. Its anti-inflammatory actions also help keep hormones balanced, as mentioned earlier.

Thyroid

Ginger can be helpful for thyroid health. It helps stabilize the thyroid gland through its anti-inflammatory effects, which can reduce the risk of developing underactive thyroid or overactive thyroid conditions. This especially applies to autoimmune conditions, as ginger specifically decreases proinflammatory cytokines and Th17 cells. Both are important factors when it comes to autoimmune disease. (16, 17).

According to research, ginger extract is able to protect the thyroid from BPA poisoning. (18) So, if you’re worried about getting exposed to BPA-containing plastics (like To Go coffee cup lids), adding ginger could help lessen the damage.

Insulin

This powerful spice may be helpful if you’re dealing with insulin resistance, and heading toward type 2 diabetes. In a study of type 2 diabetes patients, taking 2 grams of ginger powder per day resulted in a 12% lower fasting blood sugar level. It also lowered hemoglobin A1c by 10%. That’s an indicator of long-term blood sugar levels. (19)

A review study conducted in 2019 found that ginger significantly reduced hemoglobin A1c in type 2 diabetics. But that study didn’t find an effect on fasting blood sugar levels. (20) Still, ginger overall has a very beneficial effect on blood sugar balance, as well as inflammation. This could help get insulin resistance under control, which has a downstream effect on hormone balance.

Menopause

If you’re going through menopause, you might be dealing with the discomfort of hot flashes and night sweats. In working with hundreds of women with hot flashes and night sweats, ginger has often been helpful as calming these symptoms.

After hearing of all the amazing benefits of ginger, you might wonder what form of ginger to take, and how much? I’ll cover that in the next section.

The Best Way to Enjoy Ginger To Reap The Most Benefits

If you want to make sure you’re capitalizing on the benefits of ginger, here’s what you’ll want to do:

  • Make sure to take it in at least a 1 gram dosage, as this is the amount that’s been shown to be beneficial in studies.
  • Consume it fresh and raw when you can. As ginger sits, it loses some of its nutritional punch.
  • If you’re worried about your fresh ginger drying up before you can use it, you can freeze it. You can grate it straight out of the freezer.
  • Enjoy ginger as a bitter, more on that below!

Ginger Recipes to Enjoy

The Hormones Balance website is full of great ginger recipes. Here are just a few to get you started:

Ginger Hot Beverages

Lemon Ginger Tea
Milk Thistle Ginger Tea for Liver Health
Turmeric Chai Latte (Dairy-Free)
Coconut Mushroom Ginger Coffee

Ginger Cold Beverages & Smoothies

Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Peach Ginger Smoothie
Balancing Pumpkin Smoothie
Supergreen Basil Smoothie
Home-Made Ginger Ale
Orange and Turmeric Water Kefir Recipe

Tonics and Gummies

Elderberry Flu Syrup
Jamu Shot and Spritzer – A Woman’s Tonic
Antiviral Garlic and Orange Syrup
Apple Cider Turmeric Ginger Gummies

Medicinal Honey

Ginger Licorice Infused Honey (Sun and Stovetop Method)
Herbal Honey for Hormones and Immunity
White Willow Bark Honey Paste

Soups and Stews

Apple Squash Soup with Coconut Butter
Immune-Boosting Turmeric Detox Veggie Soup
Cauliflower and Coconut Red Lentil Dal
Chicken Soup
Bean and Bison Stew
Instant Pot Chickpea Warming Dhal
Instant Pot Bison and Cabbage Stew
Smoky Jamaican-Inspired Oxtail Stew

Dinners

Mushroom Leek Stir Fry
Chicken Livers Magda’s Style
Easy Thai Salmon
Thai Beef and Long Beans with Sweet Basil

Desserts

Warm Honey and Rum Roasted Pears
Cranberry Chocolate Ginger Cookies
Ginger and Mint Strawberry Cobbler
Sweet Potato Turmeric Truffles

Getting ginger into your diet on a regular basis will greatly help with your inflammation levels, your energy, and your digestion. All of those things will, in turn, help you to get your hormones back in balance.

Wellena’s Digestive Bitters

Our Before and After Digestive Bitters incorporate the digestive and hormone-balancing benefits of ginger. They are available in our store.

If you decide to get the Before and After as a set, you will save $5.40 and get a FREE organic, Fair Trade cotton bag. We love this little bag to then put it in our purse so we don’t forget the bitters wherever we go. You can get the full Digestive Bitters set with the bag here.

Resources

1. Bode AM, Dong Z. The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis. 2011.

2. Patel, K. and Examine.com team. Ginger. Examine.com. November 2019.

3. Masuda, Y., Kikuzaki, H., Hisamoto, M., & Nakatani, N. Antioxidant properties of gingerol related compounds from ginger. BioFactors (Oxford, England), 2004.

4. Mashhadi, Nafiseh Shokri, et al. “Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence.” International Journal of Preventive Medicine, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, Apr. 2013.

5. Sritoomma, N., Moyle, W., Cooke, M., & O’Dwyer, S. The effectiveness of Swedish massage with aromatic ginger oil in treating chronic low back pain in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Complementary therapies in medicine, 2014.

6. Hisamuddin, N., Kamarudin, N.N., Sulaiman, M., & Mossadeq, W.M. Effect of Zingiber officinale on spasm. 2019.

7. Mao, Q. Q., Xu, X. Y., Cao, S. Y., Gan, R. Y., Corke, H., Beta, T., & Li, H. B. (2019). Bioactive Compounds and Bioactivities of Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe). Foods (Basel, Switzerland). 2019.

8. Saxena, A., Kaur, K., Hegde, S., Kalekhan, F. M., Baliga, M. S., & Fayad, R. Dietary Agents and Phytochemicals in the Prevention and Treatment of Experimental Ulcerative Colitis. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine. 2014.

9. A. Khalil, W. EL-houseiny. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) an antiparasitic and its effect on health status of Clarias gariepinus infested with gill monogenea. Egyptian Journal of Aquatic Research. 2013.

10. D. Sung, J.H. Lee, H. Kim, J. Jung, H. Young
The Effect of Ginger Extracts on the Antioxidant Capacity and IgG Concentrations in the Colostrum and Plasma of Neo-born Piglets and Sows. Livestock Science. 2013.

11. Karuppiah, P., & Rajaram, S. Antibacterial effect of Allium sativum cloves and Zingiber officinale rhizomes against multiple-drug resistant clinical pathogens. Asian Pacific journal of tropical biomedicine. 2012.

12. Chang, J. S., Wang, K. C., Yeh, C. F., Shieh, D. E., & Chiang, L. C. Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 2013.

13. Rasool, A., et al. Anti-avian influenza virus H9N2 activity of aqueous extracts of Zingiber officinalis (Ginger) and Allium sativum (Garlic) in chick embryos. Pakistan journal of pharmaceutical sciences. 2017.

14. Kaushik, S., Jangra, G., Kundu, V. et al. Anti-viral activity of Zingiber officinale (Ginger) ingredients against the Chikungunya virus. VirusDis. 2020.

15. Nikkhah Bodagh, Mehrnaz, et al. “Ginger in Gastrointestinal Disorders: A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials.” Food Science & Nutrition, John Wiley and Sons Inc., 5 Nov. 2018.

16. Jung, H. W., Yoon, C. H., Park, K. M., Han, H. S., & Park, Y. K. Hexane fraction of Zingiberis Rhizoma Crudus extract inhibits the production of nitric oxide and proinflammatory cytokines in LPS-stimulated BV2 microglial cells via the NF-kappaB pathway. Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association. 2009.

17. Mashhadi, N. S., Ghiasvand, R., Askari, G., Hariri, M., Darvishi, L., & Mofid, M. R. Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: review of current evidence. International journal of preventive medicine. 2013..

18. Mohammed, E. T., Hashem, K. S., Ahmed, A. E., Aly, M. T., Aleya, L., & Abdel-Daim, M. M. Ginger extract ameliorates bisphenol A (BPA)-induced disruption in thyroid hormones synthesis and metabolism: Involvement of Nrf-2/HO-1 pathway. The Science of the total environment. 2020.

19. Khandouzi, N., Shidfar, F., Rajab, A., Rahideh, T., Hosseini, P., & Mir Taheri, M. The effects of ginger on fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin a1c, apolipoprotein B, apolipoprotein a-I and malondialdehyde in type 2 diabetic patients. Iranian journal of pharmaceutical research : IJPR. 2015.