Every Herb Has a Story: The Health Benefits of Ginger

| 1/4/2011 3:09:00 PM

One of the most highly regarded herbs and medicines of Asia and India, ginger has the ability to address numerous body systems. Recently, ginger has been the subject of clinical research because it appears to support the body’s inflammation response, which is an underlying factor in the overall health of the body.

1-5-2011-ginger in bowl
Photo by Chiot's Run/Courtesy Flickr

Health Benefits of Ginger

Ginger helps support a natural healing response to injury or illness. In a healthy body with a healthy inflammation response, the inflammation subsides after the body heals. Sometimes, though, the inflammation does not go away. It becomes chronic and can lead to many other problems.

The reason ginger is so useful in supporting the inflammation response is that is partially inhibits two important enzymes that both play an important role in an unhealthy inflammation response—cyclooxgenase (COX) and 5-lipoxygenase (LOX) enzymes. Anti-inflammatory drugs effectively block COX, but they have no effect on LOX; therefore they address only half of the problem.

Ginger does not cause stomach irritation. In fact, it is widely known for soothing and protecting the stomach. Since ginger does not stop the inflammatory process entirely, it is speculated that the herb may actually allow inflammation to work properly—helpfully—and then turn itself off, the way it does with an injury.

Ginger also helps relieve nausea and is loaded with powerful antioxidants.