Ginger is a flowering plant in the family Zingiberaceae; its root is widely used as a spice, and it has been used in folk medicine for thousands of years. Due to its digestive properties, ginger is an integral part of Asian cuisines. Most commonly, it’s added to meals, including meat, because of its ability to aid digestion. Ginger root and ginger essential oil are gaining popularity for their preservation and flavoring capabilities.
The health benefits of ginger essential oil are nearly identical to the medicinal health benefits of fresh ginger; in fact, the most potent form of ginger is the essential oil because it contains the highest levels of gingerol. The essential oil is the best way to use ginger as medicine. It can be taken internally to treat health conditions or rubbed topically with a carrier oil on an area of pain.
Today, ginger essential oil is used to treat nausea, upset stomach, menstrual disorders, inflammation and respiratory conditions. When used as aromatherapy, it’s also known to bring on feelings of courageousness and self-assurance, which is why it’s known as “the oil of empowerment.”
Ginger Essential Oil Nutrition Facts
Ginger is a herbaceous perennial that grows annual stems about three feet tall. The stems bear narrow, green leaves and yellow flowers. Ginger is indigenous to south China and spread eventually to the Spice Islands, other parts of Asia, and then to West Africa and the Caribbean. As a result of the profitable spice trade, ginger was exported to Europe and India in the first century A.D.; with over 33 percent of the global production, India remains the largest producer of the plant today.
Ginger is part of the plant family that includes turmeric and cardamom, both exceptionally beneficial to your health and wellness. It has a sweet, spicy, woody and warm scent. Ginger essential oil is a warming essential oil that works as an antiseptic, laxative, tonic and stimulant.
Of the 115 different chemical components found in ginger root, the therapeutic benefits come from gingerols, the oily resin from the root that acts as a highly potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Ginger essential oil is also made up of about 90 percent sesquiterpenes, which are defensive agents that have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
The bioactive ingredients in ginger essential oil, especially gingerol, have been thoroughly evaluated clinically, and the research suggests that ginger should be used on a regular basis — it has the ability to cure an array of conditions and diseases and unlocks countless essential oil uses and benefits.
10 Ginger Essential Oil Benefits
1. Treats Upset Stomach and Supports Digestion
A 2015 animal study published in the Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology evaluated the gastroprotective activity of ginger essential oil in rats. Ethanol was used to induce gastric ulcer in Wistar rats; the ginger essential oil treatment inhibited the ulcer by 85 percent. Examinations showed that ethanol-induced lesions, such as necrosis, erosion and hemorrhage of the stomach wall, were significantly reduced after the oral administration of the essential oil. (1)
A scientific review published in Evidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine evaluated the efficacy of essential oils in reducing stress and nausea after surgical procedures. When ginger essential oil was inhaled, it was effective in reducing nausea and the requirement for nausea-reducing medications after surgery. Ginger essential oil also demonstrated analgesic activity for a limited time — it helped to relieve pain immediately after surgery. (2)
2. Heals Infections
Ginger essential oil works as an antiseptic agent that kills infections caused by microorganisms and bacteria. This includes intestinal infections, bacterial dysentery and food poisoning. It has also proven in lab studies to have antifungal properties.
An in vitro study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Diseases found that ginger essential oil compounds were effective against Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus. Ginger oil was also able to inhibit the growth of Candida albicans. (3)
3. Aids Respiratory Problems
Ginger essential oil removes mucus from the throat and lungs, and it’s known as natural remedy for colds, the flu, coughs, asthma, bronchitis and also loss of breath. Because it’s an expectorant, ginger essential oil signals the body to increase the amount of secretions in the respiratory tract, which lubricates the irritated area. (4)
Studies have shown that ginger essential oil serves as a natural remedy for asthma patients. Asthma is a respiratory illness that causes bronchial muscle spasms, swelling of lung lining and increased mucus production. This leads to the inability to breathe easily. This can be caused by pollution, obesity, infections, allergies, exercise, stress or hormonal imbalances. Because of ginger essential oil’s anti-inflammatory properties, it reduces swelling in the lungs and helps open airways.
A study conducted by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry found that ginger and its active components caused a significant and rapid relaxation of human airway smooth muscles. Researchers concluded that compounds found in ginger may provide a therapeutic option for patients with asthma and other airway diseases either alone or in combination with other accepted therapeutics, such as beta2-agonists. (5)
4. Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation, in a healthy body, is the normal and effective response that facilitates healing; however, when the immune system overreaches and begins attacking healthy body tissues, we’re met with inflammation in healthy areas of the body, which causes bloating, swelling, pain and discomfort.
Abnormal inflammation is at the root of most diseases, and this is the cause of leaky gut syndrome, arthritis and fibromyalgia symptoms, as well as celiac and irritable bowel disease. It’s important to consume anti-inflammatory foods and plants in order to cut back on this immune response.
A component of ginger essential oil, called zingibain, is responsible for the oil’s anti-inflammatory properties. This important component provides pain relief and treats muscle aches, arthritis, migraines and works as a headache remedy. Ginger essential oil is believed to reduce the amount of prostaglandins in the body, which are compounds associated with pain. (6)
A 2013 animal study published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology concluded that ginger essential oil possesses antioxidant activity as well as significant anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive property. After being treated with ginger essential oil for one month, enzyme levels increased in the blood of mice. The dose also scavenged free radicals and produced significant reduction in acute inflammation. (7)
5. Strengthens Heart Health
Ginger essential oil has the power to reduce cholesterol levels and blood clotting. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a few preliminary studies suggest that ginger may lower cholesterol and help prevent blood from clotting, which can help treat heart disease, where blood vessels can become blocked and lead to heart attack or stroke.
Along with reducing cholesterol levels, ginger oil also appears to improve lipid metabolism, helping decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
An animal study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that when mice consumed ginger extract for a 10-week period, it resulted in significant reductions in plasma triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels. (8)
And a 2016 study shows that when dialysis patients consumed 1,000 milligrams of ginger daily for a 10-week period, they collectively displayed significant decreases in serum triglyceride levels by up to 15 percent when compared to the placebo group. (9)
6. High Levels of Antioxidants
Ginger root contains a very high level of total antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that help prevent certain types of cell damage, especially those caused by oxidation; oxidative damage plays a major role in disease today and has been linked to health conditions like heart disease, cancer and dementia.
According to the book “Herbal Medicine, Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects,” ginger essential oil is able to decrease age-related oxidative stress markers and reduce oxidative damage. When treated with ginger extracts, there was a decrease in lipid peroxidation, which is when free radicals “steal” electrons from the lipids and cause damage. This mean ginger essential oil helps fight free radical damage. (10)
Another study highlighted in the book showed that when rats were fed ginger, they experienced less kidney damage due to oxidative stress induced by ischemia, which is when there is a restriction in the blood supply to tissues.
Recently, studies have focused on the anticancer activities of ginger essential oil; this has been associated with the antioxidant activities of -gingerol and zerumbone, two components of ginger oil. According to research, these powerful components are able to suppress the oxidation of cancer cells, and they have been effective in suppressing CXCR4, a protein receptor, in a variety of cancers, including those of the pancreas, lung, kidney and skin. (11)
Ginger essential oil has also been reported to inhibit tumor promotion in mouse skin, especially when gingerol is used in treatments, so it may work as a natural cancer treatment.
7. Natural Aphrodisiac
Ginger essential oil increases sexual desire; it addresses issues such as impotence and loss of libido. Impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction, is the inability for a man to sustain an erection long enough for normal, satisfying sexual intercourse; the causes may be physiological or psychological.
Because of its warming and stimulating properties, ginger essential oil serves as an effective and natural aphrodisiac, as well as a natural remedy for impotence. It also helps to relieve stress and brings forth feelings of courage and self-awareness — eliminating self-doubt and fear. (12)
8. Relieves Anxiety
When used as aromatherapy, ginger essential oil is able to relieve feelings of anxiety, anxiousness, depression and exhaustion. The warming quality of ginger oil serves as a sleep aid and stimulates feelings of courage and ease.
In Ayurvedic medicine, ginger oil is believed to treat emotional problems like fear, abandonment, and lack of self-confidence or motivation.
A study published in ISRN Obstetrics and Gynecology found that when women suffering from PMS received two ginger capsules daily from seven days before menstruation to three days after menstruation, for three cycles, they experienced a reduction of severity of mood and behavioral symptoms. (13)
And according to a lab study conducted in Switzerland, ginger essential oil activated the human serotonin receptor, which may be able to help relieve anxiety. (14)
9. Alleviates Muscle and Menstrual Pain
Because of its pain-fighting components, like zingibain, ginger essential oil provides relief from menstrual cramps, headaches, backaches and soreness. Research suggests that consuming a drop or two of ginger essential oil daily is more effective in treating muscle and joint pain than the painkillers that are given by general practitioners — this is because of its ability to reduce inflammation and increase circulation.
In a study done at the University of Georgia, a daily ginger supplement reduced exercise-induced muscle pain in 74 participants by 25 percent. (15)
Ginger oil is also effective when taken by patients with pain associated with inflammation. A study conducted by researchers at Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University of Miami found that when 261 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee took a ginger extract twice daily, they experienced less pain and needed fewer pain-killing medications than those who received placebo. (16)
10. Improves Liver Function
Because of ginger essential oil’s antioxidant potential and hepatoprotective activity, an animal study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry measured its effectiveness in treating alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is significantly associated with hepatic cirrhosis and liver cancer.
In the treatment group, ginger essential oil was administered orally to mice with alcoholic fatty liver disease every day for four weeks. The results found that the treatment has hepatoprotective activity. After alcohol administration, the amount of metabolites increased and then the levels recovered in the treatment group. (17)
Ginger Essential Oil History & Interesting Facts
The Chinese and Indians have used ginger tonics to treat ailments for over 4,700 years, and it was a priceless commodity during the Roman Empire trade around the coming of Christ because of its medicinal properties. Over time, ginger was spread across Asia, Africa, Europe and India because of the spice trading business.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, the value of a pound of ginger was equivalent to the cost of a sheep! By medieval times, it was being imported in preserved form to be used in sweets; in fact, Queen Elizabeth I of England is credited with the invention of the gingerbread man, which has become a well-known Christmas treat.
From 1585 on, Jamaican ginger was the first oriental spice to be grown in the New World and imported back to Europe. Today, India is the largest producer of ginger, followed by China, Nepal, Nigeria, Thailand and Indonesia.
How to Use Ginger Essential Oil
- To improve blood circulation and heart health, rub one to two drops of ginger essential oil over the heart twice daily.
- For muscle and joint pain, rub two to three drops of the oil on the needed area twice daily.
- To boost mood and feelings of courage, add two to three drops to a diffuser or inhale twice daily.
- For nausea, diffuse two to three drops of ginger oil or apply one to two drops over the stomach.
- For low libido, diffuse two to three drops of ginger oil or apply one to two drops to the feet or lower abdomen.
- To aid digestion and get rid of toxins, add two to three drops of ginger oil to warm bath water.
- To relieve respiratory conditions, drink ginger tea or add one drop of ginger essential oil to green tea twice daily.
- To treat vomiting, add one drop of ginger oil to a glass of water or cup of tea and drink slowly.
- For cooking, start with a small dose (one or two drops) and add it to any meal that calls for ginger.
How to Find Ginger Essential Oil
You can find and buy ginger essential oil online and in some health food stores. Because of its potent and medicinal properties, you want to choose the best product available to you, especially if you are using ginger oil internally. Look for a 100 percent pure-grade product, and if you are planning to use the oil internally, opt for one that’s Certified USDA Organic and labeled as a dietary supplement.
It’s also important to look for a product that’s CO2 extracted instead of steam distilled. Steam distillation requires heat that kills beneficial compounds in the essential oil. CO2 extraction, on the other hand, requires as little heat as possible and doesn’t involve the use of chemicals, like hexane or ethanol, in the extraction process.
Possible Side Effects & Interactions of Ginger Essential Oil
It’s rare to have side effects from ginger essential oil. In high doses, ginger oil may cause mild heartburn, diarrhea and irritation of the mouth.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult their doctors before taking ginger essential oil; pregnant women should not take more than one gram per day. Children over 2 may take ginger to treat nausea, stomach cramping and headaches, but ask your doctor first.
If you’re taking a blood thinner medication, talk to your doctor before taking ginger essential oil because it can increase the risk of bleeding. Don’t use ginger essential oil if you are on medications for diabetes because it may lower your blood sugar level. If you are on high blood pressure medications, don’t take ginger essential oil because it will also lower your blood pressure, which can make it too low.
- The health benefits of ginger essential oil are nearly identical to the medicinal health benefits of fresh ginger. Ginger oil actually contains higher levels of gingerol, one of the most therapeutic components found in ginger.
- Ginger essential oil is used for a variety of health issues, from nausea and upset stomach, to menstrual disorders, inflammation and respiratory conditions.
- Ginger oil can be used internally (in small amounts), aromatically and topically. When used on sensitive skin, it should be diluted with a carrier oil.
- The top health benefits of ginger essential oil include its ability to:
- treat upset stomach and support digestion
- heal infections
- aid respiratory problems
- reduce inflammation
- strengthen heart health
- provide antioxidants
- work as a natural aphrodisiac
- relieve anxiety
- alleviate muscle and menstrual pain
- improve liver function
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