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Ginger, a member of the Zingiberaceae family, is a global spice with a long history of medicinal usage. This alternative medicine can have a wide range of benefits. It has been used to treat gastrointestinal ailments, and shown beneficial in studies as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, and antiulcer treatment. The effect of ginger on the microbiome could be outstanding for some, potentially remodeling it and altering its effectiveness at mitigating other diseases and ailments.
What are the benefits of ginger?
Ginger, a flavorful root or rhizome, has a spicy aroma and taste. Ginger and other rhizomes have been used since antiquity to treat cold, fever, sore throats, infectious diseases, arthritis, rheumatism, sprains, muscular aches, pains, cramps, hypertension, dementia, migraine, nervous diseases, gingivitis, toothache, asthma, stroke, and diabetes.4 They have also been used as a home remedy in treating various gastric ailments like constipation, diarrhea, dyspepsia, belching, bloating, gastritis, epigastric discomfort, gastric ulcerations, indigestion, nausea, and vomiting.4
Studies have found ginger protects the stomach from ulcer-causing agents like aspirin. Ginger is also used as a carminative, helping to decrease gas production. This spice may help boost your microbiome because it increases the motility of the gastrointestinal tract, increasing the rate the stomach empties.
If you’re looking for a good source of antioxidants, ginger may help. Working as an antioxidant and anti‐inflammatory, ginger may improve enzymatic activity and impairments in the anti‐inflammatory system in different tissues, without side effects.2 Despite ginger’s positive traits, it is important to remember that everything has a front and a back side to it, and the principle of uniqueness also comes into play.
Ginger as A Dietary Agent
Gut microbiota can be altered by dietary interventions with ginger because it contains exosome microRNAs and has carminative properties. Ginger is incorporated into bacteria in the gut (i.e. Lactobacilli) multiplying the good bugs, to the point where they can make anti-inflammatory cytokines, improving severe gut disease.7
Studies show ginger supplementation modified the composition of the gut microbiota, resulting in its effects against obesity, insulin, resistance, live steatosis, and low-grade inflammation.1 It has also shown effectiveness at decreasing pressure on lower esophageal sphincter, reducing intestinal cramping, and preventing dyspepsia, flatulence, and bloating.6
How does ginger affect salicylates sensitivity or intolerance?
Ginger is one of the top salicylates. Salicylates sensitivity (salicylate intolerance), is less common than others like gluten or lactose intolerance, but still very real. It’s also one of the hardest to identify since the compound (salicylates) is derived from salicylic acid (naturally and synthetically) and found in foods, medications, and other products.
Plants produce salicylates to defend against harmful elements like insects, fungus, and disease.8 Salicylates in the natural form are found in foods including fruits, vegetables, coffee, teas, nuts, spices, and honey. In its synthetic form, salicylates are found in medications like aspirin.
A sensitivity is thought to be caused by an overproduction of leukotrienes, inflammatory mediators linked to conditions like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and bowel disease.8 People with a salicylates sensitivity are unable to consume small amounts of this compound without experiencing negative side effects.
It could be possible to mitigate a sensitivity or intolerance with detoxification. Again, it will depend greatly on your unique case.
Can I mitigate a salicylate sensitivity or intolerance?
Health is the natural state of your body. When negative symptoms show up or persist, it is because something present in the body is inhibiting the healing response. Before your body can utilize the positive things you give yourself, it must first remove the damaging culprits disrupting your body’s healing response and preventing repair.
Health hijackers are responsible for chronic illness, aches and pains, advanced aging, and health challenges (and annoyances) like sensitivities or intolerances. Dealing with them directly and eradicating them from your body is the most direct way to free yourself from acute or chronic complaints.
You may be able to add in foods you have temporarily given up due to insensitivities by conquering your health hijackers through detoxification. Detoxification could help your body fight infection, inhibit allergic reactions, lower cholesterol, eliminate free radicals that advance aging, raise your good cholesterol levels, and help you maintain a healthy weight.
How does ginger remodel the microbiome?
Exosome-like nanoparticles (ELNs) – small extracellular vesicles that often contain RNA—derived from plants such as ginger can activate a pathway that triggers the expression of the cytokine IL-22 in colon mucus (7). IL-22 has been shown in other studies to promote tissue repair at the gut lining.
Ginger supplementation is only part of the equation of a healthy and diverse gut microbiome. Your genetic composition plays an important role, along with developing better nutrition through eating a balanced diet (80 percent vegetables and 20 percent animal protein) that is tailored for your unique needs.
Check out an easy way to increase your ginger intake with these delicious recipes.
1) Wang, J., Wang, P., Li, D. et al. Beneficial effects of ginger on prevention of obesity through modulation of gut microbiota in mice. Eur J Nutr 59, 699–718 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-019-01938-1
2) Tramontin, N. dos S., Luciano, F., Marques, S. de O., Souza, C. T. de, & Muller, A. P. (2020, January 27). Ginger and avocado as nutraceuticals for obesity and its comorbidities. Wiley Online Library. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ptr.6619.
3) Bodagh, M. N., Maleki, I., & Hekmatdoost, A. (2018, November 5). Ginger in gastrointestinal disorders: A systematic review of clinical trials. Wiley Online Library. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/fsn3.807.
4) Giacosa, A., Morazzoni, P., Bombardelli, E., Riva, A., Bianchi Porro, G., & Rondanelli, M. (2015). Can nausea and vomiting be treated with ginger extract. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci, 19(7), 1291-6.
5) Nikkhah Bodagh, M., Maleki, I., & Hekmatdoost, A. (2018, November 5). Ginger in gastrointestinal disorders: A systematic review of clinical trials. Retrieved April 18, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6341159/#fsn3807-bib-0029
6) Ali, B. H., Blunden, G., Tanira, M. O., & Nemmar, A. (2008). Some phytochemical, pharmacological and toxicological properties of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe): a review of recent research. Food and chemical Toxicology, 46(2), 409-420.
7) Teng, Y., Ren, Y., Sayed, M., Hu, X., Lei, C., Kumar, A., … Zhang, H.-G. (2018, November 14). Plant-Derived Exosomal MicroRNAs Shape the Gut Microbiota. Retrieved April 18, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30449315
8) Duthie, G. G., & Wood, A. D. (2011, September). Natural salicylates: foods, functions and disease prevention. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21879102
9) Bode, A. M. (1970, January 1). The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/