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7 Expert-Backed Health Benefits Of Ginger Tea


7 Expert-Backed Health Benefits Of Ginger Tea

ByBecca Stanek

Expert Reviewed

Mascha Davis, M.P.H., R.D.N.

Here’s a closer look at what ginger and ginger tea are, and the potential health benefits this beverage offers.

7 Expert-Backed Health Benefits Of Ginger Tea

What Is Ginger?

Ginger is a plant that’s native to parts of Asia, including India, China and Japan. The part of the plant that’s traditionally used in food and for medicinal purposes is the plant’s rhizome, or underground stem. The rhizome is bulbous and knotted in appearance, with a thin beige skin, whereas the above-ground portion of the plant has long, narrow green leaves and flowers that are either white or yellowish-green in color.

Ginger has a long history of use in both cooking, where it’s often used as a spice, and in medicine. It’s reported that the plant has been used in Asia medicinally for over 2,500 years and as a cooking spice for at least 4,400 years[1][2].

What Is Ginger Tea?

“Despite being called a tea (which usually involves tea leaves), ginger tea is a concoction or infusion of the rhizome of ginger,” says Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., certified food scientist, who serves as a principal at food science and research firm Corvus Blue LLC and a senior lecturer at Johns Hopkins University.

Ginger tea is made by placing fresh ginger into boiling water and allowing it to steep, or by stirring a spoonful of ginger preserves into hot water. “Steeping fresh ginger may take 10 minutes or more with boiling water to obtain benefits and break down the plant,” says Monique Richard, an integrative functional dietitian who owns a private practice based out of Johnson City, Tennessee.

Health Benefits of Ginger Tea

Ginger has been used medicinally for thousands of years due to its perceived health benefits, and there is now data backing up some of the potential advantages. In many cases, however, studies are preliminary and further research is needed.

Additionally, Shelke highlights that the potential benefits derived from ginger tea depend on a number of factors, including how strong the concoction is, what else it’s consumed alongside, the form of the ginger and how often ginger tea is consumed. Shelke and Richard both advise drinking ginger tea in moderation and note its potential interaction with blood thinners and blood pressure medications, as well as in individuals with bleeding disorders. Individuals with certain conditions, such as people with gallstones, diabetes or people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, may also consider talking to their doctor before consuming ginger.

Here’s a look at the health benefits you may derive from sipping this spicy tea.

Source of Vitamins and Minerals

Regularly sipping ginger tea can be a great way to incorporate vital minerals and vitamins into your diet. According to Richard, ginger contains vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, fiber and water.

Vitamins and minerals are essential to the body’s development and normal function. Vitamin C, for instance, helps the body absorb iron, maintain tissue health and heal wounds. Meanwhile, vitamin B6 aids in the formation of red blood cells and the maintenance of brain function. Magnesium is involved in over 300 of the body’s biochemical reactions, such as nerve and muscle function.

Anti-inflammatory Properties

Both Richard and Shelke flag ginger’s anti-inflammatory effects as one of its benefits. Studies show that several of the active components in ginger can reduce inflammation, including by suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokines and down-regulating the induction of inflammatory genes.

For example, studies show promising evidence that ginger can help relieve pain in people who have osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis that’s due to the breakdown of or damage to joint cartilage[3].

Treatment for Nausea and Vomiting

Historically, ginger has been used to help alleviate nausea and vomiting, and current scientific evidence backs up ginger’s efficacy in this regard. Particularly, studies suggest that ginger could be helpful for alleviating these symptoms during pregnancy[4]. A separate study found that the effects of ginger were stronger than a drug in reducing nausea and vomiting after a procedure due to general anesthesia[5].

Individuals should still always defer to their health care provider when determining what treatment is appropriate for them.

Digestive Aid

Ginger is often “used to affect gastrointestinal motility—i.e., how quickly food exits the gastrointestinal tract,” says Shelke. Studies find that ginger has a positive effect on the amount of time it takes a person to digest food as well as on dysrhythmia, a disorder that impairs the movement of food through the digestive system[6].

However, it’s worth noting that the negative effects of ginger for some people can include gastrointestinal effects, such as some bloating or general distress, says Richard.

Alleviation of Menstrual Cramps

Another possible benefit of ginger tea is treating dysmenorrhea, or pain that occurs with menstruation, according to Richard.

In fact, a review of evidence from six different trials found that there was no significant difference between ginger and NSAIDs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, in treating menstrual pain, though further research is needed[7].

Potential Metabolic Benefits

Ginger’s “warming effect is used in weight management-related products,” due to its “metabolic effect,” says Shelke, referring to evidence of ginger’s thermogenic properties, which can stimulate the metabolic rate (the amount of calories your body burns). According to one study, ginger can moderate obesity through a number of mechanisms including thermogenesis, appetite control and the inhibition of intestinal fat absorption, among others[6].

Beyond potential weight-related effects, older studies also found that ginger may help lower cholesterol. It may also prevent blood from clotting, which can help with the prevention of heart disease. Additionally, it’s been found that ginger may help improve blood sugar among those with type 2 diabetes[2].

Protection of Brain Health

Richard notes ginger’s potential to “protect brain health from oxidative stress,” a benefit that evidence from scientific studies supports. Oxidative stress is a condition that can occur when there aren’t enough antioxidants to get rid of an overabundance of free radicals in the body, which can result in damage to the cells and tissues. This is associated with degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Specifically, studies found that ginger’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are what can contribute to the reduction in oxidative stress as well as inflammation markers[7].

Especially if you enjoy the taste, it’s easy to see why ginger tea can be a great addition to your diet. You can sip it for its vitamins, minerals, anti-inflammatory and other beneficial properties, or if you’re seeking some relief from nausea or menstrual cramps. And as an added bonus, it’s simple and relatively affordable to brew at home.

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