Ginger root is a spice with a kick that's been used as food and medicine for thousands of years. It makes a powerful and warming herbal tea that's packed with health benefits.
Perhaps the most well-known benefit of ginger is its ability to relieve nausea, but there's much more to follow that. You can also use ginger to stimulate your immune system, relieve cramps, and boost immunity.
Here's more about ginger root, how to make a simple tea from it, and the top benefits of ginger tea.
What Is Ginger Root?
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a perennial plant native to Asia that comes from the same plant family as turmeric and cardamom. It's been used in herbal medicine for thousands of years and has been written about in ancient Sanskrit, Chinese, Greek, Roman, and Arabic texts. (1)
Ginger plants develop fleshy rhizomes which are what we know as ginger root. These are harvested and sold whole, powdered, crystallized, and in many other forms.
Be sure that you don't confuse this type of ginger with wild ginger that's native to parts of North America. This other type of ginger has the botanical name of Asarum canadense and doesn't have the same medicinal properties as Zingiber officinale.
Ginger root has may powerful plant compounds, but one of the most beneficial is called gingerol and is what gives ginger its spicy taste. Gingerol is most concentrated in fresh ginger root and is what gives ginger tea many of its health benefits. (2)
Before getting into all the major benefits of ginger tea, here's a simple recipe for making a cup of it at home.
Simple Ginger Tea Recipe
Ginger tea is very easy to make. All you need is some fresh ginger root from your grocery store.
- Cut off a 1-2" inch piece of ginger and peel. You can use as much or as little as you want, but go slow at first (it's spicy!).
- Chop or grate the ginger and put it in a small saucepan.
- Add 1-2 cups of water, cover, and bring to a boil.
- Crack the lid and turn the heat down to a simmer. Let it simmer about 10 minutes.
- Once it's finished, strain out the ginger. Add lemon and/or honey to your ginger tea if desired. Enjoy!
Top Benefits of Ginger Tea
Relieves Many Kinds of Nausea
One of the best benefits of ginger tea is that it can help to relieve nausea. Tea and other ginger products have long been used for morning sickness, motion sickness, and nausea from chemotherapy. (3)
A 2012 study confirmed that supplementing with ginger can significantly reduce the severity of nausea induced by chemotherapy in adult cancer patients. (4)
Ginger tea is also a favored natural remedy for nausea during pregnancy. Ginger has been shown in many studies to significantly improve nausea in pregnant women without side effects or any "adverse events" to mom or baby. (5)
There's mixed evidence on whether ginger can also help with vomiting during pregnancy, but some studies have reported that it can. (6) To maximize the effects of ginger tea, try adding in some lemon or peppermint, which also have anti-nausea power.
And if drinking tea doesn't sound good to you while going through morning sickness, ginger is available in other forms like capsules and crystallized pieces.
Though most known for fighting nausea, ginger tea is very good for digestive health overall. It can be used for most kinds of indigestion and upset stomach, especially problems that are due to slow digestion.
Gingerol, ginger's main active compound, is a stimulating agent that helps to speed up sluggish digestion and has been shown to speed up stomach emptying. (7)
Ayurvedic practitioners often recommend eating a small amount of raw ginger with lemon juice and salt before meals to get your digestive tract ready for food. You can also drink ginger tea after and between meals to settle an unhappy digestion.
Relieves Pain and Cramping
Ginger is often used as a PMS remedy because of its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties that can ease cramps.
Gingerol and another compound called zingerone both have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger also helps to improve circulation in the pelvic area and has antispasmodic properties that further help cramping. (8)
Ginger root works well with other herbs for PMS, like in this Menstrual Melody herbal blend.
Ginger has also been used for other types of pain like arthritis, joint pain, and muscle pain. Studies have confirmed this by finding that it can reduce pain from both osteoarthritis and exercise-induced muscle pain. (9)(10)
Boosts Your Immune System
Drinking a daily cup or two of ginger tea can have some major benefits for your immune system.
It's been used for centuries to ward off infection, treat colds and flus, and help seasonal allergies. All of these are connected to immune system health.
The immune-boosting power of ginger comes back once again to gingerol, along with a few other active medicinal compounds. Ginger root is a good source of antioxidants, which help to fight disease-causing free radicals. It also has antimicrobial properties that seem to be especially effective against respiratory infections. (11)
Ginger tea is a great remedy to use while you're sick as well, especially when you need a warming effect. It helps to warm your body, stimulates your immune system, and relieves congestion.
Other Benefits of Ginger Tea
There are yet more benefits of ginger tea that you can take advantage of.
It's been found to lower blood-level triglycerides that are related to diabetes and heart disease and may improve blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. (12)
The warming nature of ginger is helpful if you have poor circulation and especially good for people who are always cold.
Finally, although more research is needed, ginger and gingerol have shown potential for fighting certain types of cancer and for protecting brain health. It may possibly provide protection against diseases like Alzheimer's.
Ginger root is a common culinary herb, and ginger tea rarely has side effects. The most important precaution is that ginger is a warming herb and most effective for cold-type imbalances.
If you have a hot-type constitution (get hot easily, etc.) ginger tea may not be the best choice. Though it generally calms digestion, ginger can exacerbate "hot" stomach conditions like peptic ulcers. You may wish to instead try an herb like peppermint that has a cooling effect.
Ginger can also lower blood pressure and may have a blood-thinning effect. Talk to your healthcare practitioner before using if you take blood thinners or blood pressure medication.
Spice Up Your Health with Ginger Tea
Ginger tea is a tasty and warming beverage that packs some serious health benefits. It's one of the most recommended remedies for nausea and indigestion and can also help with inflammation.
You can use ginger to get relief from PMS symptoms or to boost your immunity during cold and flu season.
Making a cup of ginger tea is simple and well worth it. Try some for yourself the next time you feel under the weather!