Ginger is a spice that is made from the Zingiber officinale plant and contains pungent phenol compounds, which are responsible for its flavor as well as most of its health effects. Ginger is often consumed as food and tea. Evidence hints that ginger provides a wide range of health benefits, from reducing muscle pain to combating certain cancers.
Reduces Muscle Pain
Ginger might ease muscle pain associated with intense exercise, according to a study conducted by lead author Patrick O'Connor and colleagues from the University of Georgia. Participants consumed either raw ginger, heated ginger or a placebo for 11 days, while performing intense exercise intended to cause muscle damage. The report, published in the May 2010 issue of the "Journal of Pain," revealed that the ginger groups experienced reductions in muscle pain caused by exercise compared to the placebo group.
Lead investigator Edward Altman and colleagues from the University of Miami studied the effects of ginger on patients with osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. For six weeks, subjects received a ginger supplement or a placebo twice daily. At the end of the study, which was reported in the November 2001 issue of the journal "American College of Rheumatology," the ginger group experienced decreases in pain compared to the placebo group.
Slows Colorectal Cancer
Ginger contains the pungent phenol compound gingerol, which might slow colorectal cancer, according to an animal study conducted by lead author Ann Bode and fellow researchers from the University of Minnesota's Hormel Institute. They discovered that rats given gingerol times a week slowed the growth of colorectal cancer cells compared to rats not fed gingerol. Although these findings are promising, human trails are needed.
Prevents Diabetic Kidney Damage
Diabetics are at an increased risk of kidney damage. Dr. Ali Taghizadeh led a team of researchers from Emam Khomeini Hospital studied the impact of ginger on kidney health in diabetic rats. They discovered that subjects adhering to a diet rich in garlic powder experienced decreases in kidney damage compared to participants with a placebo, according to research reported in the May 2006 issue of the journal "Food Chemistry."