Ingredient of the Month: Ginger

Ginger is pretty crazy--from fending off ovarian cancer cells to beating cramps, ginger is a girl's best friend

(photo: Organic Ginger Root by Artizone/Flickr Creative Commons)

We’ve all grown up hearing about ginger settling an upset tummy, but did you ever think about what else it can do for you?

Ginger as we know it is the root of the Zingiber officinale plant. A well-known spice from southeastern Asia, it has been traded since since ancient times, reaching Europe in the first century, and brought to the New World shortly after conquest [1].

This popular spice goes way beyond nausea: it’s been connected to killing ovarian cancer cells. In one study, four different cell lines of ovarian cancer were treated with ginger, as were properly functioning ovarian cells. While the cancerous cells all responded positively to ginger (they died!), this test was conducted in test tubes, not people. And the chemical processes in our bodies are more complex, with more variables that could effect ginger’s effects on ovarian cancer [2]. While more research is needed in this area, this is still promising data.

Ginger also has some powerful anti-inflammatory properties. If you don’t love being sore after a workout, listen up: ginger has been shown to decrease muscle soreness after exercise in statistically significant ways [3, 4]. Maybe more interesting is that it has been shown to ease the pain of menstrual cramps [5]–in one study, it worked as well as ibuprofen [6]. Given the evidence, I am seriously considering buying some of this.

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