Ginger Tea Benefits: Anti-Inflammatory, Antispasmodic, Emmenagogue

Ginger, lovely ginger. This was one of the first herbs I used when I was getting started with herbalism. Needless to say, I have a very strong bond with this potent root; and for good reason! Ginger has a multitude of health benefits; something for everybody, if you will. Add in the fact that now-a-days it’s easy to find and relatively inexpensive and you’ve got yourself some easy, homemade kitchen medicine!

Ginger is Anti-Inflammatory

Why do I love ginger so much? Let’s start off with the fact that it’s got powerful antiinflammatory effects. Compounds such as gingerol and shogaol are the functional ingredients in ginger which work directly to modify and inhibit inflammation. Studies show that together, these compounds inhibit the synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1, TNF-ɑ, and IL-8. In another study scientists determined that ginger can reduce the elevated expression of NFκB and TNF-ɑ in rats with liver cancer. This is important because increased expression of NFκB, which is said to play a role in tumor initiation and development, has been linked to autoimmune diseases, chronic inflammatory diseases, infection, and cancer. You might better recognize these chronic inflammatory diseases by the following names: diabetes, arthritis, Chron’s disease, asthma, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and psoriasis. In a chronically inflamed environment there is more opportunity for our DNA to become damaged; affecting the way our cells grow, divide, and function. Which, if left unchecked for a long time, can lead to those aforementioned chronic inflammatory diseases.

Ginger Tea Relieves Menstrual Pain

Another reason I am a huge fan of ginger is the ability it has to make my periods virtually painless. Yes, a painless period does actually exist! Let me explain; ginger is an “emmenagogue” which is a fancy way to say that it helps to bring on a period. This means that if you’re someone who has a very light flow maybe due to an IUD or are someone who often feels like they have an incomplete period, ginger can help to increase your flow to have a more complete menstruation. On the other hand, if you’re reading this and you’re someone who experiences a heavy flow, you might find that drinking a strong ginger tea during your period is uncomfortable for you. However, I do highly recommend you give it a try because I’ve found that there is nothing better than to be able to actually enjoy your period – the one gift that we have that allows us to bring life into this world and that makes us women. 

Okay, but on a cellular level how does ginger make your periods less painful? The main reason is that ginger has the ability to inhibit the production of prostaglandins in the body (the mechanism is the same as that of taking an NSAID). Prostaglandins play an important role during menstruation in that they are responsible for the contraction of the uterine smooth muscle. This contraction is what helps your body to shed the endometrial lining and have a period. What tends to happen though, is that many women experience painful periods (dysmenorrhea) due to an increased amount of prostaglandins in the system. The increased amount of prostaglandins causes overactivity of uterine contractions and causes you to experience period cramps. By drinking a strong ginger tea at least one week before your period you will be inhibiting the production (or overproduction) of these painful, cramp causing, prostaglandins. And voila! Pain free periods brought to you by Zingiber officinale.

Ginger Tea Alleviates Tension

 Lastly, in our home we love to drink ginger tea because of its ability to help relieve tension. My partner often suffers from neck pain and tension headaches resulting from this pain. He has found that drinking ginger tea on a consistent basis has helped to reduce the number of days he experiences neck pain and reduces the number of headaches he has related to that neck pain. In fact, just the other day he felt a tension headache coming on and he decided to drink a glass of ginger tea before reaching for an ibuprofen and wouldn’t you know it, the functional compounds in the ginger tea were just as effective as NSAIDs at reducing pain and inflammation.

Drink Ginger Tea

So there you have it; a few short and sweet reasons why I love ginger and how we have been able to work with and incorporate this efficacious root into our daily lives. Whether you live in a cold environment (cough, cough hello fam in New York!) or consider yourself to be a person with a cold constitution, suffer from period cramps or are just simply looking to lower the overall level of inflammation in your body, you won’t be disappointed that you decided to start drinking ginger tea.

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