Ginger Properties and Dosage for Health

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

Ginger properties that benefit human health have been known for many centuriesGinger is a plant whose root has been used in cooking and herbal remedies for over 4,000 years. Its use began in China but has since spread to the rest of the world. Ginger contains gingerol, which gives ginger that spicy flavor and distinct scent. It is a powerful antioxidant. Folk medicine and home remedies using ginger have been around for centuries, but recently, ginger properties have been researched for their medicinal value in numerous scientific studies, some of which are detailed below.

These studies have shown ginger to have many therapeutic benefits for a number of conditions, including nausea, PMS, inflammation, and even cancer. And for those suffering from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), ginger can be very helpful for a variety of symptoms.

Adrenal Fatigue and the Neuroendometabolic Stress Response

The NeuroEndoMetabolic(NEM) Stress Response system is how your body deals with stress. The pathways involved include the hormonal, metabolic, neuroaffective, cardionomic, inflammatory, and detoxification responses. As stress builds in the body, whether it be from physical, mental, or emotional sources, the NEM stress response system is responsible for handling it. Part of this process involves your adrenal glands working to help your body de-stress through the secretion of hormones. However, over prolonged periods of stress, the adrenal glands and entire NEM Stress Response can become dysregulated, leading to adrenal fatigue and other symptoms.

Part of a holistic approach to handling disruptions in the NEM network and in dealing with adrenal fatigue involves incorporating nutritional elements that can alleviate certain symptoms. Below are the ginger properties and dosage for various health conditions and symptoms that are associated with AFS.

Adrenal Fatigue and Women’s Health

A smiling woman unafflicted by adrenal fatigue because ginger properties helped her recovery succeedAdrenal fatigue can have many adverse effects on women’s health, including fertility issues, PMS, painful menstruation, and lowered libido. One of the main culprits that brings on these symptoms is estrogen dominance. Estrogen is a pro-growth hormone: it thickens the endometrium, stimulates breast growth, triggers menarche, and increases body fat. Progesterone is a hormone that balances estrogen: it maintains the secretory endometrium, protects against fibrocystic breasts and breast cancer, helps use fat for energy, and it aids in the prevention of endometrial cancer.

In those with estrogen dominance, the ratio of progesterone to estrogen is thrown off, either due to too much estrogen or not enough progesterone, creating a relative imbalance between the two hormones.

The adrenal glands, ovaries, and adipose tissue are all involved in estrogen regulation. When the adrenals are stressed, progesterone is shunted to make cortisol, contributing to estrogen dominance and offsetting the balance of reproductive hormones. This can create many problems including severe PMS, difficult and irregular periods, infertility, miscarriages, endometriosis, fibrocystic breast disease, fibroids, and increased breast cancer risk.

Ginger for PMS and Period Pain

Ginger has been shown to be a great solution for women suffering from PMS and period pain. Studies show a marked reduction in painful cramps, as well as less bleeding, in women who take one-eighth of a teaspoon of ginger three times a day when menstruating. For those also experiencing adrenal fatigue, PMS is more pronounced with an increase in symptoms, and menstruation can become irregular. Some women experience heavier blood loss, a disruption of the flow on the 4th day, and then a restarting of the flow on the 5th or 6th day. Using ginger can be very helpful in PMS symptom relief and reducing the heaviness of the flow for women with AFS.

Adrenal Fatigue and Inflammation

Inflammation is a natural physical reaction to anything that is causing the body harm or stress. Symptoms of inflammation—such as pain, heat, swelling and redness—are just part of the collateral damage of an inflammatory stress response. Inflammation is part of healthy immune system function and is necessary to fight off illnesses and other threats to the body. The problem begins when inflammation becomes chronic and uncontrollable.

Cortisol, secreted by the adrenal glands, is one of the main agents of inflammation control, restoring balance to the body once the inflammation is no longer needed to fight off threats. With the the type of chronic stress that results in adrenal fatigue, the adrenals are no longer able to produce enough cortisol and so inflammation can run rampant, causing health problems such as frequent infections, food sensitivities, leaky gut, inflammatory bowel disease, and certain autoimmune conditions.

Ginger for Inflammation

Herbs and spices are known to have some of the strongest antioxidant compounds. In one study, white blood cells exposed to the antioxidants found in certain spices were shown to have increased protection from oxidative harm and inflammatory injury caused by free radicals. These antioxidants also changed the cellular inflammatory response.
In another study, different groups of people consumed a regular culinary quantity of an herb or spice for a period of time. At the end of that period, the blood of each group was compared to the rest. The comparison was done by dripping their plasma onto human white blood cells and measuring how much Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) was produced in response to the introduction of oxidized cholesterol (a type of inflammatory insult). TNF is an inflammatory cytokine that can cause autoimmune reactions such as osteoarthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis. From this study, we see exciting evidence that certain spices such as ginger and turmeric can be effective reducers of this TNF inflammatory response, even at normal daily consumption levels. An additional study showed a reduction in knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis who consumed ginger.

For those with AFS, controlling inflammation is of utmost importance, as chronic inflammation and chronic stress are engaged in a feedback loop that causes worsening health. And because in AFS the stress response to inflammation is compromised, inflammation must be controlled through external means. Anything that soothes inflammation can provide a break in the cycle so that you can begin to recover from adrenal fatigue, as well as the health conditions that caused the inflammation in the first place.

Ginger for Cancer

There are several indications from studies of mice that ginger properties could help fight cancer. In one study, mice that were injected with cancer cells, and those that were given ginger showed increased protection against the formation of colon cancer. In another study, mice given gingerol were found to have fewer and smaller tumors than mice who were not given gingerol. When cooked, gingerol turns into zingerone, which also has health benefits. In another study, cells were exposed to gamma rays and then had ginger phytonutrients added. The result was less DNA damage and fewer free radicals present. Zingerone was also compared to the leading drug administered for radiation sickness: zingerone was found to be more powerful and had none of the adverse side effects. Ginger can be used as a preventative measure for people who are exposed to radiation, such as flight crew and hospital staff who work with x-rays. These groups of people are more susceptible to oxidative stress, a condition where the body’s ability to neutralize free radicals is compromised. Though these studies show promising results, other studies have been inconclusive and the evidence is not yet strong enough to make a case for ginger as a stand-alone alternative.
Those suffering from AFS are more prone to developing estrogen dominance, which increases the risk for certain types of cancer including breast, cervical, prostate, endometrial, uterine and ovarian. If these patients are given chemotherapy, ginger can be used to reduce the nausea that comes with this type of therapy.

Ginger During Pregnancy

Nausea and vomiting, frequently known as morning sickness, are common during early pregnancy, although the intensity varies considerably from person to person. In some cases, it can be so severe that it leads to hospitalization for hyperemesis gravidarum, an ailment that can result in vomiting blood, malnutrition, and weight loss. Women with adrenal fatigue sometimes have more challenging pregnancies and should take extra care of their physical and emotional health during this time.

With frequent vomiting, a woman suffering from AFS will lose even more energy and vitality, so any strategies for reducing morning sickness naturally are recommended. Ginger is a well-known remedy for all kinds of nausea, including that from motion sickness, pregnancy, and cancer chemotherapy. It is especially helpful for pregnant women due to its safety and minimal side effects. 1000 mg of powdered ginger a day, or about half a teaspoon, is the recommended daily dose; the maximum daily dosage should not exceed 4000 mg. This can also be ingested as ginger tea, with about four cups being the equivalent of 1000 mg in powdered form. Ginger extract packaged in capsules can also be used.

Other Ginger Properties and Benefits

Ginger properties imbued in tea can help ease consumption and provide other health benefitsGinger properties have been found beneficial for other ailments as well. In one study, an eighth of a teaspoon of powdered ginger was tested against one of the leading migraine drugs on the market. The results were equal: both worked just as well and as fast as each other. Test subjects taking either felt a significant decrease in the pain. Ginger, however, is not only cheaper, but also has no side effects except an occasional upset stomach. With the migraine drug, side effects reported include dizziness, heartburn, and vertigo.

Other ginger properties also currently being investigated include the ability to control blood sugar levels and diabetes, lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease, and relieve different types of muscle pain and soreness. Ginger tea can help with colds, flus, and gastrointestinal issues. Steeping half-inch slices in a cup of hot water for a few minutes might be all that is needed to boost the immune system or calm indigestion.

With long-term use, the benefits of ginger are obvious as side effects do not accumulate or require their own symptom relief in the way of other medication.

But as with any medicinal remedy or nutritional supplement, it is important to have a medical professional advise you on use and dosage. In traditional Chinese medicine, ginger is considered a “heating” food, which means that it can be stimulating. In advanced cases of adrenal fatigue, you must be careful as too much ginger at once could cause overstimulation. This is especially true if you are affected by any other health condition, such as those mentioned above. A thorough assessment, followed by nutritional or lifestyle coaching, is a safer way to include any type of natural medicine in your overall health plan.



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© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Ginger properties that benefit human health have been known for many centuries