The healing properties of ginger

Ginger is widely in ancient Chinese and Indian medicine

A wonderfully aromatic herb, ginger is renowned for its warming flavour in Asian dishes. It’s also prized for its healing properties and has been used widely in ancient Chinese and Indian medicine for the prevention and cure of several health issues.

Ginger has a long history of use for relieving digestive problems such as loss of appetite, pain, nausea and motion sickness. It is also known to treat inflammatory conditions, and promotes a healthy metabolic rate.

Ginger belongs to the Zingiberaceae family of plants, along with turmeric, galangal and cardamom. The root can be consumed in many ways, including fresh, dried, powdered,crystallised or as a juice.

Native to southeastern Asia, the plant is now grown commercially in Jamaica, India, Fiji, Indonesia and Australia. Each ginger plant can grow up to three feet high and produces two to five sections of ginger, which is harvested year-round. The Australian ginger industry currently produces approximately 8000 tonnes of ginger per annum, 40 per cent of which is used in the process industry, while 60 per cent is sent to the fresh markets across Australia.

Adding ginger to sweet and savoury dishes is a simple way to add flavour without adding unnecessary salt. Given its strong flavour, ginger is usually consumed in small amounts. It therefore does not add significant calories, sugars or carbohydrates.

Ginger contains numerous antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds such as betacarotene (responsible for it’s golden colour), gingerols, capsaicin, curcumin and salicylate. The health benefits of ginger include:

  • Reduces pain and inflammation: Ginger contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols, which work to ease the tissue swelling and pain associated with inflammation. Ginger has shown promise in clinical trials for treating inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. In addition, a study involving 74 volunteers carried out at the University of Georgia found that daily ginger supplementation reduced exercise-induced muscle pain by 25 per cent.
  • Improves nutrient absorption: Ginger can improve the absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients in the body by stimulating enzyme secretion, making it a great addition to your meals.
  • Eases digestive issues: Ginger can help to relieve gastrointestinal irritation by stimulating saliva and bile production, helping to move food and fluids through the GI tract. The phenols in ginger also help to reduce inflammation in the gut, such as that seen in IBS sufferers.
  • Boosts the immune system: Ginger promotes healthy sweating, which helps to flush the system of toxins. This is particularly helpful when suffering with colds or flu. Researchers have also found that sweat contains a potent germ-fighting agent that may help fight off infections.


Sources and dosage
Ginger is concentrated with active substances, so just a small amount can provide health benefits. Add it to flavour both sweet and savoury foods to benefit. If you dislike its intense flavour, try adding it at the beginning of the cooking process for a subtler flavour.

In most recipes, one-eighth of a teaspoon of ground ginger can be substituted for one tablespoon of fresh grated ginger. If you’re feeling under the weather, try two tablespoons of freshly grated ginger steeped in hot water, two to three times a day. Add a slice of lemon or a teaspoon of honey for cold and flu symptoms.

Ginger root can also be consumed as a herbal supplement. The recommended dosage will vary between brands, so be sure to read the label.
Both fresh and ground ginger is readily available in most grocery stores year-round, and supplements are available in most health food stores and online.

Top Tips
When buying fresh ginger, look for a root with smooth skin and a spicy aroma. Store fresh ginger in a tightly wrapped plastic bag in the refrigerator or freezer to maintain it’s freshness. It pairs well with seafood, citrus, pumpkin, pork, rhubarb and apples.

Disclaimer: If you’re considering the use of ginger in treatment of a chronic condition, consult your primary care provider.

Words by Sally O'Neil

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The information presented on this website is not intended as specific medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical treatment or diagnosis. Read our Medical Notice.