Sip some ginger ale, or have a delicious ginger chew – it’ll make your tummy feel better! I hear a mom’s voice in my head when I think of the benefits of ginger essential oil. Its soothing effects on the digestive tract have been well known and beloved throughout the world for many generations.
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Culinary Ginger Uses
Ginger as we know and love it is the rhizome (part of the root) of the Zingiber officinale plant. At the end of the growing season, the whole plant is dug up and the rhizomes harvested for use. Some can be retained for replanting, which starts the whole process again for another year. Ginger stores well and has a wide range of preparation possibilities, which has helped to establish it as a staple from early in human history. The harvested root can be chopped, grated, dried and powdered, even candied. It’s added to both sweet and savory recipes, food and drink alike.
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Traditional Medicinal Uses
Not only has ginger established itself throughout history for its flavor and versatility, but the medicinal benefits of ginger are obvious and well suited to its uses. From the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (linked below), ginger has been used for at least 2500 years, traditionally for gastrointestional health, including:
- Digestive upset
And, in more recent years, the review notes that researchers are finding even more potential benefit, specifically in the aromatic compounds: Some pungent constituents present in ginger and other zingiberaceous plants have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, and some of them exhibit cancer preventive activity in experimental carcinogenesis. (1) Could ginger as a digestive-aid staple have protected earlier generations from the plague of cancer that we currently face today? Details remain to be seen, but we can certainly take a page from traditional recipes to incorporate more ginger into our daily lives. Include more ginger in your diet by making recipes such as:
- Ginger-seasoned stir fries
- Ginger ale
- Ginger beer
- Ginger sauces
- Ginger marinades
- Ginger-seasoned desserts
- Candied ginger
The root is well established as beneficial for digestion, and you will get some amount of the essential oil compound with it, as well.
Ginger Essential Oil Uses & Composition
The benefits of ginger essential oil is also derived from the so-called ginger root (that’s actually a rhizome), via steam distillation. As with any essential oil, the actual compounds will vary based on where and how the plant is grown. Still, some of the most commonly present constituents in ginger essential oil include citral, zingiberene, and camphene, all from the terpene hydrocarbons category of chemical compounds.
According to an analysis of ginger essential oil from a 2015 analysis, the compounds in ginger essential oil include free-radical scavenging capabilities and boosting the body’s natural antioxidants. (2) Ginger essential oil is used to add a spicy note to perfumes and in aromatherapy blends as well as culinary preparations.
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Health Benefits of Ginger Essential Oil
We love to diffuse ginger around Christmastime especially for its spicy, festive scent reminding us of holiday treats. There are some specific benefits of ginger essential oil to keep in mind when choosing oils. Ginger’s benefits are primarily digestive, but you may be surprised at just how effective it might be – or what else it might be used for!
1. Gastroprotection: Ginger root has been used as a digestive aid throughout it’s long history. Of course, the whole root carries many benefits in its various components. The essential oil itself still retains the benefit of being a digestive aid, which is both important for potency as well as ease of use. A recent study depicted an example of the protective effects that ginger essential oil – as well as turmeric – can have on ulcers specifically. The study was conducted in a lab on rat stomachs, but the essential oil was shown to reduce oxidative stress and reduce the damage the ulcers inflicted. (3)
Properly incorporate a couple drops of ginger essential oil in your culinary preparations when extra need for digestive support arises.
2. Nausea Relief: Probably the most reliable and definitely the easiest remedy to “apply,” simply inhaling ginger essential oil is quite effective against nausea. An encouraging body of study is being done on this effect to help relieve chemotherapy-induced nausea. A full review of the effects of aromatherapy on nausea found that, of the studies that have been conducted, “the inhaled vapor of peppermint or ginger essential oils not only reduced the incidence and severity of nausea and vomiting.” (4) Sixty women with breast cancer volunteered to use ginger essential oils during chemotherapy, and the acute nausea as well as appetite loss and functioning were improved over placebo. (5)
Create an inhaler with some cloth that has a couple of drops of ginger essential oil, or simply open the bottle and sniff for relief of waves of nausea.
3. Inflammation: Some of the anti-inflammatory properties that no doubt aid in digestive wellness seem to also help with muscle pain. A trial using Swedish massage with ginger essential oil in short term and long term treatments found improvement in chronic low back pain, even at disability levels. (6)
Add ginger essential oil to carrier oils to massage into painfully inflamed areas.
4. Cancer Prevention: In vitro and the markers of their actions inhibited in vivo (in the body!) (7) We don’t yet have indication of how to maximize these benefits, but including ginger essential oil in your regular aromatherapeutic use can only help!
Suggested Oils to Blend with Ginger
Synergy is a major part of aromatherapy, which means oils typically perform better when combined with others. Try ginger with these oils for both scent combinations and effect enhancements…
- Citrus: orange, bergamot, neroli.
- Floral: geranium, rose, ylang ylang.
- Woodsy/Earthy: eucalyptus, frankincense, sandalwood, cedarwood.
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