Nausea, Pain Relief, and Blood Sugar

People have used ginger for thousands of years to treat ailments and add an earthy flavor with a spicy kick to their food. Ginger is native to Asia and belongs to the Zingiberaceae family of plants, and people typically use its edible root or stem.

It is also an ancient herbal remedy that people have used for a host of ailments, including arthritis, diabetes, cough, colds, and nausea (1).

Ginger is consumed in multiple ways in folk medicine, including in the form of ginger tea. You can make ginger tea by boiling the peeled root in water or milk.

This article reviews the health benefits and potential downsides of drinking ginger tea. It also provides an easy recipe you can follow to make it yourself.

Ginger is one of the most common ingredients worldwide, used as a spice and medicinal plant (2).

In folk medicine, people often use it to treat coughs and the flu, among other ailments (3).

It has traditionally been used in numerous forms, including:

  • fresh
  • pickled
  • powdered
  • dried
  • candied
  • preserved
  • crystalized

Similarly, it is available in multiple forms, such as (1):

  • capsules
  • tinctures
  • extracts
  • tablets
  • tea

As mentioned above, ginger tea is made by boiling the peeled root in water or milk.

The oils and compounds responsible for ginger’s characteristic aroma and spicy flavor make up about 1–4% of the ginger root (1).

Two of these compounds — gingerols and shogaols — are considered ginger’s main bioactive components. This means they are the ones behind most of the health benefits of ginger and ginger tea (2, 3, 4).

Here are just some of the known and potential benefits of ginger tea.

Summary

You can make ginger tea by boiling the root in water. It has a sharp and spicy taste. It’s rich in gingerols and shogaols, the components behind many of its health benefits.

Here are 7 potential health benefits of drinking ginger tea.

1. May provide relief from motion sickness

Folk medicine suggests that ginger tea can help calm motion sickness symptoms, like dizziness, vomiting, and cold sweats.

One 1988 study in 80 naval cadets unaccustomed to sailing in heavy seas determined that those who received 1 gram of powdered ginger reported reduced vomiting and cold sweating (5).

Although researchers don’t understand exactly how ginger works, some have suggested that certain compounds in ginger block a brain receptor that has a key role in the vomiting center of the brain (6).

However, current research is limited or inconclusive (6, 7).

Yet, if you experience nausea from time to time, ginger tea may be a good treatment to try.

2. May alleviate nausea from morning sickness or chemotherapy

Some experts believe gingerols in ginger can help relieve nausea caused by pregnancy, chemotherapy, or surgery.

Researchers suggest that ginger might be an effective and inexpensive alternative to traditional anti-nausea drugs in people who are pregnant or undergoing chemotherapy and can’t have conventional medicines (1, 7, 8, 9).

One study in 92 women found that ginger was more effective than a standard drug at preventing postoperative nausea and vomiting caused by general anesthesia (10, 11).

Nevertheless, be sure to check with a healthcare professional before using ginger after surgery. It may interfere with blood clotting — although research on this is still emerging and more is needed to investigate it further (12).

3. May help manage blood pressure and support heart health

Research suggests that consuming ginger in daily doses of 2–6 grams may help protect against heart disease (13).

Ginger may do this by (13, 14):

  • lowering blood pressure
  • helping prevent heart attacks
  • helping prevent blood clots
  • relieving heartburn
  • lowering cholesterol
  • improving blood circulation

4. May help manage weight and blood sugar levels

A lot of research shows that consuming ginger has beneficial effects on weight and blood sugar management.

Research suggests that ginger may help manage body weight by (2, 15):

  • increasing thermogenesis — the production of heat by your body — which helps burn fat
  • increasing the breakdown of fats for energy
  • inhibiting fat storage
  • inhibiting fat absorption
  • helping control appetite

In addition, ginger may help improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes and obesity by reducing fasting insulin levels, hemoglobin A1C, and triglycerides. Hemoglobin A1C is an indication of your blood sugar levels over the past 2–3 months (16, 17, 18).

5. May relieve pain and inflammation

People have used ginger to treat inflammation for centuries, and now science backs up this practice for certain uses (19).

Research shows that the compounds in ginger called gingerol and shogaol help reduce the production of pro-inflammatory markers (11).

People have particularly studied ginger for its effect in relieving pain from osteoarthritis of the knee (7, 11, 20, 21).

Ginger tea may also help alleviate menstrual cramps if you take it at the start of your period. Research shows it may be equally or more effective than over-the-counter pain relief medications (11, 22, 23, 24, 25).

6. May have cancer-fighting properties

Studies have even shown that ginger may help prevent cancer, mostly due to its gingerol and shogaol content (26).

Test-tube studies have shown that gingerol and shogaol may contribute to ginger’s cancer-fighting properties by causing cell death and preventing cancer cell multiplication and growth (22, 26, 27).

Other test-tube studies have shown that ginger may affect several different types of cancer cells, including pancreatic, colon, colorectal, ovarian, prostate, and lung cancers (7, 26, 28, 29).

More studies on the effects of ginger and ginger tea on cancer in humans are needed.

7. May protect your brain

Scientists have studied ginger’s protective effects against oxidative stress and inflammation — two factors that play a decisive role in the development of brain degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (30).

Animal studies show that gingerol and shogaol may offer protection against age-associated decline of brain functions due to their antioxidant properties (14, 22).

Test-tube studies also suggest that ginger extract may increase cell survival against beta-amyloid — a protein closely related to Alzheimer’s disease that can induce toxicity in brain cells (30).

Summary

Compounds such as gingerol and shogaol in ginger may offer beneficial effects for nausea, pain, inflammation, heart health, diabetes, cancer, and brain health.

Drinking ginger tea is unlikely to cause serious side effects.

Ginger is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including for those who are breastfeeding or chestfeeding. The FDA says it is safe to consume up to 4 grams of ginger daily. However, these amounts are generally not reached in studies (1, 31).

While there is no consensus on a correct dosage for ginger, studies recommend a safe daily dose of 1,000 mg of fresh ginger (1).

This is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of freshly grated ginger extract, 0.4 teaspoons (2 mL) of liquid ginger extract, 4 cups (946 mL) of prepackaged ginger tea, or 2 teaspoons (10 mL) of ginger syrup (1).

Note that ginger tea is likely less concentrated than these forms of ginger. So, while drinking ginger tea may have side effects, you’re unlikely to experience them if you drink only one or two cups.

That said, if you think you’re experiencing side effects from drinking ginger tea, stop drinking it right away and consider speaking with a healthcare professional about your symptoms.

When people do experience side effects from consuming ginger, they most often report gas, bloating, nausea, and heartburn or reflux. Other reported symptoms include diarrhea and abdominal pain (1, 7).

Since ginger may lower blood pressure and may have a blood-thinning effect, people on blood thinners or blood pressure medications should consult their healthcare professional before consuming extra ginger (12).

Summary

Some of the most common side effects of drinking large amounts of ginger tea are gas, bloating, heartburn, and nausea. Studies recommend keeping your intake of prepackaged ginger tea under 4 cups per day.

Here is an easy-to-follow recipe for making your own ginger tea.

Ingredients

  • 4–6 thin slices of peeled, raw ginger (for stronger ginger tea, add more slices)
  • 2 cups (473 mL) water
  • juice from half a lime or lemon
  • honey or another sweetener, to taste (optional)

Directions to make it with water

  1. First, wash and scrub ginger root. Then, peel ginger and slice thinly.
  2. Fill a medium pot with 2 cups water. Place ginger slices in water and bring to a boil, then simmer 10–20 minutes. Simmer longer for spicier tea.
  3. Remove from heat. Add lime or lemon juice and honey to taste, if desired.
  4. Serve in your favorite mug.

Directions to make it with milk

You can also make ginger tea with milk:

  1. Boil ginger root slices in 1 cup (237 mL) water for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and add 2 cups (473 mL) milk.
  3. Put pot back on stove and gently simmer milk and ginger for 5 minutes.
  4. Serve in your favorite mugs.

Summary

To make your ginger tea at home, simply boil some ginger slices in water and add lemon juice and honey for flavor.

Here are some frequently asked questions about drinking ginger tea that may guide you if you’re still unsure whether to try it:

  • Is it safe to drink ginger tea every day? Yes — the FDA says ginger is generally recognized as safe. The FDA states that you can safely consume up to 4 grams of ginger per day — which is far more than you’d consume in a cup of ginger tea (1).
  • Is it OK to drink ginger tea before bed? Yes. Ginger tea is considered a caffeine-free infusion because, unlike black, green, oolong, and white teas, it doesn’t come from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is the source of caffeine in tea (32, 33).
  • What is the best time to drink ginger tea? You can enjoy your cup of ginger tea at any time of day — first thing in the morning, right before bedtime, or anytime in between.
  • What does ginger do to the body? Ginger is rich in compounds with numerous beneficial health effects throughout the body. It has potential antioxidant, antidiabetes, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, weight-loss-friendly, and brain- and heart-protective effects.

Summary

Ginger tea is a caffeine-free infusion with numerous potential health benefits. It’s safe to consume at any time of day.

Ginger tea is an easy, delicious, and all-natural way to promote good health.

In addition to giving you the many health benefits of ginger, it’s simple and easy to prepare at home.

Whether you’re feeling under the weather or simply craving a warm drink, with a cup of ginger tea you can sit back, breathe in, sip slowly, and enjoy.

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1 thought on “Nausea, Pain Relief, and Blood Sugar”

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