Ginger: Can it reduce inflammation?

22 Feb 2024

Ginger has been valued for centuries for both its flavour and health benefits. Let's take a closer look at this humble root!

In a Nutshell

Health Benefits

Key compounds: The medicinal interest of ginger is linked to its complex combination of polyphenols, especially gingerols and shogaols. They contribute to its beneficial properties and characteristic flavour.

Ginger has shown promising benefits in human studies.

  • Reduced inflammation: In clinical trials, giving people daily doses of ginger reduced their levels of inflammatory markers – including C-reactive protein, TNF-α, and interleukin-6. 
  • Nausea relief:meta-analysis of clinical trials found that daily ginger (1500 mg) was beneficial for nausea relief.
  • Blood glucose levels: In people with type 2 diabetes, supplementation with ginger reduced fasting blood sugar and levels of HbA1C, according to a meta-analysis of clinical trials.
  • Pain relief: There is also mixed evidence suggesting that it could help reduce pain. A few trials found that ginger reduced menstrual pain severity as effectively as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like mefenamic acid.

How does it work? The active compounds in ginger – particularly gingerols and shogaols – could provide benefits in several ways:

  • By improving gastrointestinal motility or the movement of food through the GI tract, which may alleviate gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, constipation and indigestion.
  • By encouraging muscle cells to absorb glucose.
  • By regulating inflammatory chemicals, particularly TNF-α and IL-6.

How much? Doses ranged from 1 to 3g per day. 1 gram corresponds to about 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger root or ½ teaspoon of powdered ginger.

Fresh vs dried: Most studies used capsules of dried ginger powder. Fresh ginger contains ‘gingerol’ which when dried forms a third type of hot compound, ‘shogaol’. So it might be worth mixing it up between dried and fresh!

Plant Tales

Ginger grows in tropical regions. What we know as ginger is the underground stem or ‘rhizome’ of a herbaceous plant in the large ginger family. It grows in tropical climates around the world – such as India, China, Nepal, tropical Africa, parts of Central America and Australia. But it can also be grown in the UK in a greenhouse or conservatory.

It’s having a comeback in Europe. Ginger has been used in India and China since ancient times and was one of the first spices to arrive in Europe as part of the spice trade. Back in medieval Europe, it was popular in cooking until spicy foods went out of style in the 17th century.  In recent years, it has become a kitchen staple again as people are rediscovering its bold flavour and medicinal properties.

A valuable remedy. Ginger has long been popular in traditional medicine systems, used to relieve colds, infectious diseases and gastric ailments like constipation, bloating and nausea. You can find it mentioned in Chinese texts from 400 BC!

How to add ginger to your meals

Around the world
5 ways to enjoy ginger:
  1. Soups: Grated ginger adds a tanginess that pairs well with sweet root vegetables like roasted carrots.
  2. Salad dressing: Add finely grated ginger to a mix of olive oil, lime juice, soy sauce, and garlic to jazz up any salad.
  3. Sauerkraut with red cabbage, grated carrots and apple.
  4. Tea: Simmer chopped ginger in water with other spices like cinnamon and fennel seeds.
  5. Porridge & granola: Add grated or dried ginger to oats, flax seeds, cinnamon, nuts and fruits.


History & cultivation: Kew Gardens | Britannica | University of Wisconsin | Spence et al. International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science. 2023

Health: Nikkhah Bodagh et al. Food Sci Nutr. 2018 | Ebrahimzadeh et al. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2022 | Morvaridzadeh et al. Cytokine. 2020



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