Recently, we sat down with Dr. Hugo Rodier, an integrative medicine practitioner and author of the new book, Switching Off Chronic Disease. In his book, Dr. Rodier talks about some of his favorite nutrients for optimal health, and ginger just happens to be one of them.
This often overlooked botanical is valuable for so many different biological processes in the body, including healthy digestion and proper food metabolism, and the best part is, it’s one of the safest, most-researched botanicals around.
Here’s what he had to say about ginger’s bold benefits:
1. Why do you recommend ginger to your patients?
For metabolic issues, gut problems, and patients with insulin resistance. One of the best studies on ginger and its metabolic effects looked at what happened when overweight men were given warm ginger drinks with their breakfasts. While the researchers found that energy expenditure didn’t change as a result of consuming the ginger drink, they did observe a significant change in the thermic effect of food (i.e. how fast the food was metabolized). The men who drank the ginger drink also reported lower hunger, lower prospective food intake, and greater fullness than the control group.
These results show that ginger may help with weight management, and several studies have confirmed that ginger can help with nausea and digestion, so I recommend it to patients with gut problems or metabolic issues.
As for insulin resistance, studies have shown that ginger may help control glucose metabolism and prevent cellular oxidation, one of the four causes of chronic disease.
2. What is ginger’s mechanism of action in the body?
Gingerols in this ancient botanical offer anti-inflammatory aid after pain has already shown up in joints or the intestinal mucosa has already become inflamed or leaky. Gingerols thus help heal existing damage from inflammation.
Gingerols also offer powerful preventive support by suppressing inflammatory compounds like cytokines and chemokines before they spark fires of inflammation across the body.
3. Ginger is often recommended for nausea and digestion, are these accurate recommendations and what else is it important for?
Ginger reduces cramping from gas by forcing gas down and out (in contrast with gas build-up, which puts pressure on delicate organs).
Ginger is well-known for helping prepare the stomach for influx of food from a meal, the very reason many cultures have ginger in appetizers and aperitifs.
Because ginger offers so many benefits and is so well tolerated, it’s a wonderful botanical to consider boosting when working with gut issues, which are at the center of all chronic disease states.
4. How does ginger fit into your TOIL model?
Ginger is less well-known for providing compounds that directly improve absorption of nutrients and minerals critical to cellular health, but it does just that. The “L” in my Cellular TOIL model refers to the lack of optimal nutrients for the mitochondria; ginger supports better absorption of nutrients that the various mitochondria need to fuel cellular activity, and it helps quell inflammation in the body (the “I” in TOIL).
5. Anything other interesting facts about ginger you think would be valuable to our members?
Ginger is the only approved botanical for use during pregnancy, which is very valuable because pregnant women often encounter nausea and digestive issues. It is a very safe botanical and I recommend it to nearly all of my patients.
6. What are your favorite citations/references on ginger’s health benefits?
In addition to the study on ginger and metabolism above, I also direct my patients to two other studies:
The first demonstrates what I’ve already said above, that ginger is a viable solution to nausea, especially during pregnancy: Effectiveness and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2005 Apr;105(4):849-56.
The second is a very interesting study which found that ginger is just as effective as ibuprofen (Advil) or mefenamic acid (a NSAID) for reducing pain associated with period cramping: Comparison of Effects of Ginger, Mefenamic Acid, and Ibuprofen on Pain in Women with Primary Dysmenorrhea. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. February 2009, 15(2): 129-132. doi:10.1089/acm.2008.0311.