Ginger is a popular spice with powerful health benefits. As an aid to digestion and a treatment for post-workout muscle soreness, ginger is used all over the world. But did you know that you can use ginger for weight loss too?
Instead of taking dangerous, even addictive drugs to lose weight, you can consider some food stuffs that have a reputation as natural appetite suppressants. They don’t always have scientific backing for their health or weight-loss claims, but if you like them and they don’t have known health problems, it might be worth a try.
Take ginger. It’s a common ingredient in Asian cuisine, and it comes in soda forms both mild (ginger ale) and strong (non-alcoholic ginger beer). It’s even found in the old-fashioned cookie ginger snaps. It’s a familiar confection, but most people probably don’t know what it looks like (in its pickled pink form, it often accompanies sushi).
Health Benefits of Ginger
Ginger isn’t only a cooking ingredient. It also has a reputation for its many health benefits (see Ginger: Health Benefits, Facts, Research by Megan Warep, registered dietitian), including as a home remedy for nausea, reducing muscle pain, inflammation and the risks of heart disease and diabetes.
Another source, 10 Health Benefits of Ginger by Dr. Edward Group, adds that it calms vomiting, eases digestive complaints such as constipation and flatulence, protects the brain from some chemicals that cause redness, reduces the severity of migraines, protects against damaging UV, hypertension and osteoarthritis, and even promotes healthy blood pressure. It does have potential to increase the risk of acid reflux.
Anecdotally, my childhood physician recommended it for common cold-related ear problems, and it seemed to help. Health food stores seem more familiar with it as a remedy for pregnancy related nausea. It may help with the nausea caused by excess drinking, too, though the best luxury rehab centers may not stock it.
Weight Loss Benefits of Ginger
Ginger may help with obesity. How does ginger help you lose weight? Although there is no medical evidence that it can have a direct effect on weight loss, ginger is a natural appetite suppressant, increasing satiety, and can raise the temperature of the body, boosting metabolism.
But I don’t consume ginger primarily for its possible health benefits. I really, really like it.
When we are particularly fond of some food item, such as chocolate, we say, “I’m addicted to chocolate” or “I’m a chocoholic.” Chocoholics rarely need to seek rehab such as found in luxury rehab centers.
I’m especially fond of ginger, but I wouldn’t say I’m addicted. When my favorite form of ginger, Trader Joe’s Uncrystallized Ginger, was unavailable for months, I didn’t go through withdrawal pains, but I did order some crystallized ginger slices through an online retailer. And when a local grocery store stopped carrying Goya Jamaican Style Ginger Beer, my second favorite brand of ginger beer (the first favorite was discontinued by the manufacturer in England), I didn’t suffer unduly, but I was grateful when my wife ordered me a case from the distributor.
I was introduced to the love of ginger by my father, first through Vernor’s Ginger Ale. Gradually he exposed me to ginger tea, then Williams-Sonoma’s Australian Crystallized Ginger and Stone’s Original Green Ginger Wine. I in turn introduced him to Stewart’s Ginger Beer and Ginger People’s Ginger Delight from Cost Plus World Market, a version of lokum candy (aka Turkish Delight).
I also bake ginger nuts, a hard ginger cookie I first read about in Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener. And my mixologist skills begin and end with making a Moscow Mule: ginger beer, vodka and a twist of lime, served in a copper cup.
The point is I like ginger, but if it went away I wouldn’t really go through withdrawal pains. It’s not literally an addiction. In fact, ginger may have anti-addictive properties.
According to a paper by Drs. Shima Torkzadeh-Mahani, Sima Nasri, and Saeed Esmaeili-Mahani, published in the Winter-Spring 2014 issue of Addict Health, “ginger extract has a potential anti-addictive property against chronic usage of morphine” (Ginger (Zingiber Officinale Roscoe) Prevents Morphine-Induced Addictive Behaviors in Conditioned Place Preference Test in Rats). Ginger root also is a home remedy for alcoholism –- a tablespoon of ginger juice (with another of lemon juice) in a glass of water may cut alcohol cravings –– though likely not one you’d find at even at luxury rehab centers.
What happens when you eat too much ginger?
That’s not to say ginger is entirely trouble free. Can you have too much ginger? Louise Lyon reported, in The Risks of Eating Too Much Ginger, that while moderate ginger consumption has benefits, too much can cause some of the same digestive problems that it treats, including nausea and diarrhea, or even heart problems. It also could interfere with blood thinners. Insufficiently chewed fresh, raw ginger root can cause intestinal blockage. It may cause sleepiness.
Some studies suggest that while ginger can prevent or treat morning sickness, if a pregnant woman consumes more than one gram per day, birth defects might result (other studies disagree). And if you’re on medication to control your diabetes already, too much ginger on a regular basis might lower your blood sugar dangerously.
The takeaway should be that anything in excess can cause problems. So pursue moderation in all things, even ginger.
- Ginger Tea for Weight Loss – Easy Homemade Recipe
- Ginger: Health benefits and dietary tips by Megan Warep
- 10 Health Benefits of Ginger by Dr. Edward
- Risks of Eating Too Much Ginger Root
- Torkzadeh-Mahani S, Nasri S, Esmaeili-Mahani S. Ginger (Zingiber Officinale Roscoe) Prevents Morphine-Induced Addictive Behaviors in Conditioned Place Preference Test in Rats. Addiction & Health. 2014;6(1-2):65-72.
BIO: Stephen Bitsoli writes about addiction, substance abuse, and recovery. A journalist for more than 20 years, and a lifelong avid reader, Stephen loves learning and sharing what he’s learned.