If you frequent sushi restaurants, then you’ve probably been served (pickled) ginger, a zesty plant that is provided to cleanse the palate between dishes. Many Asian recipes will call for some form of root ginger, so chances are likely you’ve already tried it. The ginger plant originates from China, and it stems from the Zingiberaceae family, which means that it’s similar to spices like cardamom, turmeric, and galangal. Ginger eventually made its way over to Europe, and even became a staple in the Royal household (Queen Elizabeth I reportedly made the very first gingerbread man — a holiday tradition that carried over to the U.S. as well).
Ginger is super versatile, and can be minced, chopped, shredded, crystalized, dried, candied, ground up or juiced — and its flavor adds a pepper-y sweetness to any savory or sweet recipe — including tea.
Ginger tea: What is it and how is it made?
You can make your own DIY ginger tea by taking raw ginger and adding it to your mug of hot water (you can also add honey or agave to sweeten and mellow things up — ginger can be strong!). That’s it! Just ginger, hot water, and sweetener if you’d like. Some will add a squeeze of lemon, as well.
You can also buy ginger tea, like Tea Drops’ Citrus Ginger dissolvable tea pods (they’re Chrissy Teigen’s favorite). Tea Drops gets the recipe just right, with the perfect amount of fruitiness, zest, and sweetness. Plus, you don’t need to worry about having ginger root on you at all times (yay for convenience!).
Dr. Carrie Lam, MD, FAAMFM, ABAARM tells us that “Ginger has a bold, earthy, citrus taste to it that is quite distinct. Just like any tea, you can make it taste stronger or weaker by the amount of water you add to it and how long you steep it for. The ginger nutritional benefits you get from consuming ginger or drinking it as a tea are quite remarkable.” Which leads us to...
Health benefits of ginger tea: Is ginger tea good for you?
According to Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, ginger (which is also known as sheng jiang or gan jiang in Chinese medicine) has been used to treat illnesses and ailments for over 5,00 years in China and India. Ginger is the most popular spice in the world, and millions swear by its unique properties — especially during flu season. Many people use ginger to prevent colds and other sicknesses and as a way to build immunity. It’s important that when colds are going around, we’re our most healthy selves so that our bodies have the best chance possible to fight against illnesses. During critical times (when the flu is going around, or even just stress!), it’s so important that we think preventatively in terms of the food we eat. Eating ginger is such an easy (and tasty) way to stay as healthy as possible.
Here are some health benefits of ginger tea that are science and research-backed.
1. Ginger can help boost your immunity.
A test-tube study shows that ginger has anti-viral properties, and although this specific study found proof that ginger had helped protect against human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV), it’s not a bad idea to eat some fresh ginger or drink ginger tea if you feel like you’re getting sick. Even better, it’s great to use ginger as preventative measure, especially during flu season.
2. Ginger can help with motion sickness
Some studies have shown that ginger works as an effective supplement to treat nausea, with some reports claiming ginger is more effective than over-the-counter medication (some of which incorporate ginger as an ingredient). Many people who experience motion sickness in cars, boats, or ships swear by either taking ginger supplements (in pill form) or drinking ginger tea.
Why exactly can ginger prevent feeling motion sickness? According to one study, it’s hypothesized that “ginger ameliorates the nausea associated with motion sickness by preventing the development of gastric dysrhythmias and the elevation of plasma vasopressin.”
3. It can also help with morning sickness
Some pregnant women with chronic morning sickness experience relief after consuming ginger, and this isn’t just a placebo effect. A recent published group of studies that were conducted from 1991 to 2009 proved that when administering 250 to 1,000 mg ginger capsules daily, the subjects reported to feel better than the subjects who took placebo capsules for the same amount of time.
Amanda Webster, a certified holistic nutritionist tells us, “I always gift a box of ginger tea to my expecting clients because, from a personal standpoint, it was my saving grace when I was pregnant.” You can find ginger tea at your grocery or health food store, or if you want to do something extra special, you could always gift Tea Drops’ Citrus Ginger. The ginger will make any mom-to-be feel better (and the subtle sweetness makes the tea feel like a dessert — it’s a win-win!). Plus, the packaging is super cute.
4. Ginger is considered an anti-inflammatory supplement
Some who suffer from chronic inflammation find that consuming ginger helps. Especially with those who have osteoarthritis, there have been studies that demonstrated a reduction in symptoms after consuming ginger extract.
A separate study gave people two grams of ginger supplements for 11 days to determine whether it would help the 36 patients with their muscle pain (another form of inflammation). The study proved that “daily consumption of raw and heat-treated ginger resulted in moderate-to-large reductions in muscle pain.” So the next time you go too hard at the gym? Brew yourself some ginger tea or toss some raw ginger in your post-workout smoothie.
5. It can lower blood sugar for diabetic patients
In a 2015 study, researchers found that ginger “may have a role in alleviating the risk of some chronic complications of diabetes.” Consuming ginger was found to improve fasting blood sugar in type 2 diabetics.
6. Ginger can help alleviate period cramps
Could ginger *really* be the magical cure for period cramps (also known as dysmenorrhea)? Yes! In a 2012 study, 120 students with mild to severe menstrual cramps were split up into two groups. One was prescribed ginger (500 mg) for their pain, the other was given a placebo. The group that was given real ginger showed a “statistically significant effect on relieving intensity and duration of pain.”
So, the next time you’re curled into a ball of pain during your period, take a ginger capsule, or cozy up with a hot mug of ginger tea (like Tea Drops’ Citrus Ginger) and a blanket. Science says so!
7. Ginger can be used for indigestion
One of the most common reasons people take ginger is to soothe their chronic indigestion issues (like bloating, IBS, or simply feeling uncomfortably full). IBS (irritable bowl syndrome) can be especially frustrating, since there’s no exact cause, or even rhyme or reason. There’s unfortunately no known cure for IBS, so those who suffer from IBS often resort to supplements or switching up their diets to alleviate symptoms. One of those supplements is ginger, which has shown to help empty stomachs faster. When food sits in your stomach for longer amounts of time, it can cause discomfort. After a meal, some folks will brew a hot cup of ginger tea to help aid their digestion and feel less full or bloated.
Those who practice Chinese medicine sometimes even fuse ginger with licorice because of their combined effect on the gastrointestinal system, according to Tsao-Lin E. Moy, L.Ac., MSOM from Integrative Healing Arts Acupuncture.
8. It can help brain function and prevent Alzheimer’s
Several studies have shown that using ginger as a supplement helps prevent cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s and can even improve brain functionality of elderly folks. One study done in 2013 tested ginger on rats. The group that was given ginger “demonstrates that the administration of GRE [ginger root extract] reverses behavioral dysfunction and prevents AD-like symptoms.”
Another study, which was published in 2011, showed that specifically middle-aged women who took a ginger supplement demonstrated faster reaction times as well as working memory.
9. Ginger has been shown to lower cholesterol levels
In a 2008 study, 45 patients were given ginger and 40 were given placebos. After the study was completed, researchers found that the first group showed a reduction in triglyceride, cholesterol, low density lipoprotein, and very low density lipoprotein. Not only did the ginger help the patients in the first group, but it helped a lot. “Mean changes in triglyceride and cholesterol levels of ginger group were significantly higher than placebo group,” the study concluded.
10: It can help fight certain types of bacteria
In a study published in 2012, researchers tested garlic and ginger extracts against five gram negative and two gram positive drug-resistant bacteria samples. The study found that both ginger and garlic have “effective anti-bacterial activity against multi-drug clinical pathogens and can be used for prevention of drug resistant microbial diseases.” While more testing is needed, it definitely doesn’t hurt taking ginger as a supplement — especially if you’re sick and taking antibiotics.
Another study showed that ginger can be effective when used orally (like a mouthwash): A 2008 study found that ginger was able to kill oral pathogens. The next time you want your mouth to feel extra clean, chew on some ginger, or purchase a mouthwash with ginger as an ingredient!
Why ginger tea? Is it better for you than other forms of ginger?
Not necessarily! But some experts prefer ginger in tea form due to its warming properties. PIQUE Integrative Medcine’s Dr. Nell Smircina tells us that, “Having ginger as a tea enhances its effects since the goal is to warm and harmonize. In traditional medicine theory, cold is a pathogen and it constricts. Think about it: we always like warm and bland foods when sick to our stomachs. Ginger has that same effect. Calms everything by dispelling cold and regulating the system.”
Whether you like going to your favorite Japanese restaurant to get your ginger fix, prefer popping ginger capsules, or love to sip on some ginger tea after mealtime, now you know that using ginger as a supplement (whichever way you want to) actually works!