With its use dating back thousands of years to ancient Chinese folk medicine, ginger is a culinary and medicinal plant that is both delicious and useful. The plant itself is a flowering part of the Zingiber family of plants, and it is the root of the plant that is used for human consumption, as a spice, and as an essential oil. The leaves are also edible but aren’t as commonly used.
The primary use for ginger in its edible or medicinal form is to aid in digestive health. The spicy scent is easily recognizable, and despite being characterized by a peppery taste, it is very soothing on the stomach. In fact, it is often recommended for nausea relief.
The History of Ginger
More than 5,000 years ago, ginger was considered a luxury item that only the rich could afford. It was used in both China and India as medicine rather than a food item to treat a range of common illnesses for those who could afford the treatment. It didn’t take long for the root to travel to other countries, and it soon became just as popular in the Mediterranean.1
The Roman Empire was a driving force in making ginger root so popular across Europe and Asia. During this time, it became a common ingredient in desserts and expensive delicacies, and its worth continually increased. By the fall of the Roman Empire, ginger was so expensive a pound costed as much as one livestock animal. It was used just as often as salt and pepper by the upper class and was also sprinkled over beer, thus the origin of ginger ale.
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Today, ginger is readily available in pretty much every grocery store, but it continues to be prized for its flavor and health benefits. Though ginger is primarily grown in India, it can grow in any subtropical climate, and the flowering plant is often used in landscaping for homes in tropical areas.
Ginger essential oil is usually distilled from older plants. The older a plant gets, the more oil it yields. To extract maximum oil from a ginger plant, it needs to be at least nine months old or older. Steam distillation is used to extract the oil from the root and the other areas of the plant.
The answer to how ginger provides so many health benefits lies in the chemical makeup of ginger, which contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other active compounds.
Ginger is most commonly recommended to treat nausea. This is because of chemical compounds in ginger that block serotonin receptors in your gut. This helps prevent the brain from feeling the sensation of nausea and also helps decrease the production of the hormone vasopressin, which is related to motion sickness.
Additionally, ginger contains an enzyme called zingibain, which helps the body better-digest food by breaking down protein. This is one of the reasons why ginger has been used since the Middle Ages to improve digestion. In India, ginger is often combined with basil in a very popular remedy for stomach aches.
There is some evidence that ginger can help reduce muscle soreness caused by inflammation. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications prevent pain from inflammation by inhibiting cyclooxygenase (COX) in the body. However, ginger has been shown to inhibit both COX and its counterpart, lipoxygenase (LOX). This lower levels of leukotrienes and prostaglandins, both of which send pain messages to the brain, meaning that the chemical compounds found in ginger are dually fighting inflammation and providing pain relief.
Uses for Ginger Essential Oil
The essential oil of ginger is used for many purposes, including internally, topically, and in aromatherapy. The spicy, warm scent of ginger is known to make a person feel confident, courageous, and self-assured. This is why people call it the “oil of empowerment.”2
In addition to this confidence boosts, some of the key health benefits of ginger essential oil are highlighted below.
Ginger essential oil is often used to treat indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and colic in babies. This can be done by ingesting ginger essential oil, either directly, or through a vehicle like a lozenge. Take a few drops of this essential oil directly, add a few drops to a warm bath, drink it in green tea, or even apply a few drops topically onto the stomach to improve digestion problems.
Remedies Respiratory Issues
You will often see that children’s cold or cough medicine, particularly all-natural medicine, contain ginger. This is because ginger essential oil can help break down mucus in the lungs, relieve a sore throat, and make it easier to breathe. Drinking green tea with ginger essential oil has been shown remedy respiratory issues.
Ginger is a natural antiseptic, meaning it actively kills infections in the gut and on the skin’s surface. Take the essential oil orally to remedy food poisoning or other intestinal infections. Use the essential oil as a serum on the skin during your cleansing routine to kill bacteria and unclog the pores—a combination of which may be resulting in acne.
Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory, which is important because many conditions are caused by inflammation. For example, headaches and migraines can be relieved with ginger since they are caused by inflamed blood vessels. Inflammatory bowel and celiac disease are also related to inflammation. Likewise, their symptoms can be alleviated with the use of ginger. Sore muscles after working out? Inflammation. In all of these cases, using essential oil of ginger can help reduce the problem and the pain.3
Studies have shown that taking a drop or two of ginger essential oil every day can help reduce headaches, muscle soreness, backaches, and menstrual cramps. To treat muscle pain or joint inflammation, rub the oil over the affected area instead of taking it orally.
Aromatherapy is a very common way to use ginger, and it has been shown to reduce anxiety and exhaustion. Because it is a very warming scent, it works as a stimulant that increases both energy and confidence. Ginger essential oil can be used in a vaporizer, room diffuser, or personal aromatherapy diffuser like Forest, Vibrant, or Love MONQ.
Safety and Precautions
Just like any essential oil, ginger essential oil should be used in moderation. This essential oil should be kept away from children or pets who might accidentally ingest too at a time.
If you have sensitive skin, ginger essential oil may irritate the skin. Make sure to perform a patch skin test before applying the oil to larger areas of the body in case of an allergic reaction. Additionally, avoid contact with the eyes or ears.
As with any remedy, be sure to consult with a doctor before using if you are on any medications. This is especially important for blood thinners or if you are currently pregnant or breastfeeding.
The Oil of Empowerment has been used for thousands of years to provide a wide range of health benefits and culinary cuisines. Moving across Asia and Europe with the rise of the Roman Empire, ginger was a popular spice for the wealthy. Even during the Middle Ages, it was used as a medicinal cure for digestive issues.
In the modern age, ginger essential oil can be used to provide a variety of health benefits. Ginger is commonly consumed in teas, candies, and just as an added ingredient in food. As an essential oil, it can be diffused to create a powerful aromatherapy treatment or used topically as a skin serum. Eating it in food can help boost immune function.
The benefits of ginger have been known for thousands of years. It continues to be a popular essential oil and will for years to come.