Great in both sweet and savoury food and brilliant for tea with a zing - this versatile root, is also packed with health benefits. No wonder, ginger has a long history in traditional herbal medicine having been used in Asian, Indian and Arabic remedies for thousands of years.

What is Ginger?

The ginger used as a spice or remedy comes from the underground stem of the ginger plant. You can eat it fresh or dried. It’s also available in syrups, in capsules (containing powdered ginger extracts), oils, alcohol extracts or eaten crystallized or in biscuits. The ginger plant (Zingiber officinale) is native to Asia.

Why do I need Ginger?

Ginger is probably best known as a remedy for nausea - particularly motion sickness during journeys, morning sickness during pregnancy or to help nausea caused by chemotherapy.

There have been a number of studies to test whether ginger really does reduce nausea. The results have been mixed. Certainly, some studies have found that ginger is better than a placebo at relieving morning sickness in pregnant women*. A few studies have also found it reduces the severity of nausea (but not vomiting) in people undergoing chemotherapy.For nausea an average dose tends to be 1g of ginger daily (divided into doses), or 650mg-1g during pregnancy. An average dose used in studies for arthritic pain is 250mg four times a day.

Ginger is also used for its anti-inflammatory properties helping to relieve arthritic pain. In a study* of people with osteoarthritis of the knee those taking ginger extracts twice a day reported needing less painkillers. Other benefits may include relief from colds and flu, headaches and period pain. There is also some early research to suggest ginger may lower cholesterol and help prevent blood clotting.

Can too much ginger be bad for you?

High doses of ginger may leave you with a burning sensation in the stomach. Generally doses should not exceed 4g of ginger a day (including food sources), and 1g if you are pregnant.

As ginger acts as a blood thinner you should avoid taking supplements two weeks before going in for surgery to reduce the risk of bleeding. You should also consult your doctor if you are already taking blood-thinning medication such as warfarin or aspirin.