A Short History of Ginger
It is impossible to say when ginger started being used. That’s because ginger is one of the herbs that has been around since before recorded history. In the annals of relatively recent history, ginger has been used medicinally and as a flavoring agent in China and India for over five thousand years. It was and still is revered as a general health tonic by traditional medicines in both these countries. By the first century, ginger had spread to the Mediterranean area. From there, ginger reached the rest of the western world. In that time, our common spice was considered quite the luxury. These days, Ginger is usually no farther away than the local grocery store.
With that rich history, there have to be some benefits to this wonderful little root. Truthfully, there are many. From being used to treat digestive and respiratory ailments to increasing circulation in the bloodstream, ginger is now used as a natural alternative for many of life’s little ailments. Here we will take a look to many of the benefits of using pure ginger essential oil.
Ginger Essential Oil
We can’t really discuss the health benefits of ginger without including ginger essential oil. To create pure ginger essential oil, the root of the Zingiber officinale plant is hydrodiffused. The hydrodiffusion method allows for less steam to be used in creating the oil; which in turn means a more potent yield of ginger essential oil.
Constituents of Ginger Essential Oil
The potency of this thin yellow essential oil comes from the various constituents that make up the oil. When they get into your body, these constituents act on the various systems and produce many of the wonderful results associated with ginger essential oil. The most notable constituents include:
- Gingerol- There are many types of gingerol, each very important in the role ginger essential oil plays on the body. Most notable are the effects of 6-gingerol as an anti-inflammatory.
- Zingiberene- The terpene which is responsible for the distinct scent of ginger. Zingiberene makes up the bulk of ginger essential oil.
- Curcumene- Found in both turmeric and ginger essential oils, curcumene is a terpene that may contribute to the anti-inflammatory and pain relieving activities of the oil.
- Sabinene- A very common compound in essential oils, Sabinene is a monoterpene which provides a “spicy” scent and flavor to many spices and their essential oils.
Health Benefits of Ginger Essential Oil
Creating ginger essential oil is, in many ways, like compressing the benefit of an entire ginger root into one drop. Ginger essential oil contains many of the same compounds which have made ginger a potent medicinal herb for thousands of years.
For the Body
Whether you add it to your aromatherapy diffuser or add the essential oil to your favorite moisturizer, the benefits of ginger essential oil are too potent to be taken lightly. Here are the most studied benefits of ginger essential oil on the body.
Researchers recently looked into the effect of ginger essential oil as an analgesic. The study included participants who suffered from knee pain. They were divided into three groups, and massage oil which included ginger essential oil and orange essential oil was used on one of the studied groups. The essential oils reduced pain more effectively than both the placebo and the control groups. The researchers concluded that massage therapy which included these essential oils may have a potential as an alternative to short term pain relief.
Another study supports these claims. Researchers at the American Pain Society attributed the intake of ginger with pain reduction; a reduction of as much as 25 percent. The anti-inflammatory effects of ginger have been shown from a reactive standpoint. This study focused on a proactive approach. Participants were first given ginger for eleven days and then asked to do actions which induced elbow pain and inflammation. Those with ginger in their system experienced a 25 percent reduction in pain versus the placebo.
Ginger has been used as a tonic for the stomach for ages, but a recent study brought to light the power of ginger essential oil to fight ulcers. Test subjects who had stomach ulcers were given ginger essential oil. Researchers noticed an 85.1 percent reduction in ulcers after administration. Also noticed was the ability of the antioxidants in ginger essential oil to reduce oxidative damage caused by alcohol.
In addition to ginger essential oil’s ability to reduce oxidative damage from alcohol, there is more research into the oil’s powerful ability to add antioxidants to your system. Some such research points out that ginger essential oil reduces the effects of radiation on the body. Researchers administered the oil to subjects who had been exposed to radiation. They found that ginger essential oil seems to counteract radiation in multiple ways. The oil helped to reduce oxidative damage to the intestines, restructure the damaged cells in the small intestine, and protect bone marrow against radiative damage. As such, researchers noted ginger essential oil may show promise as a radioprotective compound.
The same key constituents which make ginger essential oil an antioxidant may help protect the liver from alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD). Researchers gave test subjects with AFLD and a high alcohol diet a treatment which included ginger oil. They found that ginger essential oil can protect the liver from oxidative damage and the effects of AFLD.
In this instance, inhaling ginger essential oil via your aromatherapy diffuser is a great way to get it into your bloodstream. Add a few drops to your diffuser and run for 30 minutes, twice daily to help protect your liver from oxidative stressors.
One of the main constituents in ginger essential oil is known as 6-gingerol. This wonderful compound may prove to be the reason why ginger is being used as a natural anti-inflammatory. Researchers recently looked at the ability of 6-gingerol to fight inflammation, noting that the compound inhibits inflammation significantly without interfering with the body’s necessary rhythms.
Another similar study supported this notion. The text detailed the effects of ginger essential oil to reduce inflammation, both acute and chronic, over time. The same study also provides more evidence for the use of ginger essential oil as an antioxidant and natural pain reliever.
Ginger essential oil is known for its anchoring, enlivening qualities. In the case of nausea, the scent can provide a grounding sensation, bringing you back to your senses and relieving queasiness.
Researchers recently found that not only did ginger essential oil reduce nausea in postoperative patients; it also reduced the need for further medications in those same patients. This supported the researchers’ hypothesis that essential oils would be an effective nausea treatment. Their findings also noted that aromatherapy shows promise as an inexpensive, noninvasive treatment for postoperative nausea.
Ginger essential oil can also naturally relieve the muscle cramps and bloating associated with menses. Ginger helps to ease muscle pains and reduce inflammation. The potent effects of the anti-inflammatory compounds in the oil also act to reduce bloating in the body. Couple that with the mood boosting, bolstering scent of ginger essential oil and you have quite the oil for difficulties associated with menstruation.
New research is surfacing about the benefit of ginger essential oil on respiratory problems. Specifically, ginger shows promise in asthma treatment. The anti-inflammatory compounds can reduce respiratory swelling via inhalation. The antioxidant compounds help to reduce the toxins which cause asthma outbursts. The gingerols in the essential oil can also have similar effects as some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
The best application in this instance is obviously through the inhalation of the oil. A personal inhaler can be utilized very effectively here, to provide relief throughout the day. Adding a few drops each of ginger essential oil, eucalyptus essential oil, and tea tree essential oil can help with the inflammation, pain, and environmental toxins associated with asthma.
In the Brain
As ginger essential oil enters the lungs, capillaries pick up the small particles of the oil and carry them into the blood. Most constituents in essential oils are small enough to cross the blood/brain barrier and enter the brain, where they can have positive effects, such as helping to ease anxiety. In the case of ginger essential oil, it may help lift your spirits any time you need a quick mental boost.
When inhaled through an aromatherapy diffuser, many essential oils can have a positive effect on the mind. The anchoring scent of ginger essential oil, along with its bioactive compounds, can help to boost your mood and revitalize your senses. A common pick-me-up blend is the combination of ginger essential oil, orange essential oil, and frankincense essential oil. Add a couple drops of each to your diffuser and run for 30 minutes whenever you need to brighten up your mood!
On the Skin
In some cases, topical application of ginger essential oil is best. For muscle and joint aches and pains as well as skin infections, ginger essential oil can be diluted in carrier oil and applied directly to the skin.
Researchers recently found that ginger essential oil is great for fungal infections. In the study, the active compounds of ginger essential oil were found to be potent antifungal agents. When tested against Penicillium sp., Aspergillus niger, Botrytis cinerea and Rhizopus nigricans, the essential oil performed remarkably well. In the case of fungal infections, adding a few drops of ginger essential oil to carrier oil and gently applying to the area of infection can provide relief to some of the most stubborn fungi.
One Last Note
Pure ginger essential oils is just that- pure. It should always be diluted before applying to the skin, as allergic reactions can occur. You also always want to pay attention to any reactions your body may have to oils when applied on the skin, and should start by applying them to a small area before moving onto a large area of the body. Children and pregnant women should use any essential oil under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner.
The most important thing to consider when purchasing your ginger essential oil is the quality of the product. Always look for pure, undiluted, essential oils with no fillers. Pure oils are not only the most beneficial – they are the safest.
What is your favorite use for ginger essential oil? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!