Ginger - The Root Remedy
Ginger is a plant from tropical regions similar to turmeric and grows underground. Its stem puts out lateral shoots called a rhizome which give it the look of a cute tiny asymmetrical tree. It is a natural remedy most commonly known to reduce nausea, especially during pregnancy, after surgery, or during chemotherapy. This anti-nausea effect is also paired with its ability to help reduce incidences of diarrhea, flatulence, and loss of appetite - all beneficial for IBS.
Ginger for IBS
Within the ginger root, you will find phenolic compounds, a type of plant nutrients called gingerols and shogaols. These compounds are the antioxidant and inflammatory powerhouses,1 which also have antispasmodic effects that can help reduce abdominal pain and cramping.
Ginger can influence gastric-emptying and gut motility,1,2 and can also decrease acid in the stomach.1 One small human study showed that both the placebo and ginger interventions improved symptoms. Ginger was given in a 1 gram capsule, which is around ½ teaspoon of ground ginger and reduced symptoms by 26 percent.2
In another small study, gastric emptying was more accelerated in the intervention group taking three capsules (1.2g) of ginger a day versus the placebo.3 Also, the intervention group had more antral contractions although no gastrointestinal symptoms. 3 Although more trials are needed for ginger's role in IBS since it's a tasty and healthy addition to a diet, give it a try for a health boost in your diet! Like any food with IBS, monitor and evaluate if you tolerate it.
If ginger doesn't work for your IBS, it still has numerous health benefits such as reducing pain in people with osteoarthritis and joint pain.4 To top that off, gingerol, the component responsible for it's spicy flavor, may decrease tumor growth, helping to prevent cancer.5
Recommended ginger amount
The recommended dosage suggested is 1-1.2 grams of capsules of ginger. This is equivalent to 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger or 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger. This amount can speed up gastric emptying and reduce nausea and symptoms of gastroparesis.6 For standard usage, the recommended amount is 1 to 4 grams of powdered ginger or 2-8 teaspoons of fresh ginger, 2-4 times a day.1
Ginger side effects
While ginger is generally deemed to be safe, it can have some minor side effects in some people like heartburn, gas, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort.7 There are some concerns that ginger may interact with anticoagulants. For more information, speak with your doctor about how ginger may impact the medicines you take.
If you don't like the taste, you can try a 1 gram supplement to see if it helps you with smooth muscle spasms and digestion. I recommend consumerlab.com to evaluate safe brand of supplements or work with a registered dietitian nutritionist who has additional resources and knowledge to evaluate safe brands.
Ginger in daily life
Quick ginger prep:
- Use a back of a spoon or a pairing knife to get around the groves and scrape the peel of the ginger.
- Having a hard time finely chopping ginger? Use a microplane or grater to get the perfect shreds of ginger.
- Looking for some subtle added flavor for your dishes? Grate in some ginger to mashed sweet potatoes or other root veggies for a delicious sweet and spicy side.
- Try homemade ginger tea. Add a slice of ginger into a saucepot with water and simmer for 5 minutes. Add a fresh sweet squeeze of Myer lemon and/or raw honey for a soothing yet delicious drink.
- Think beyond savory dishes- use crystallized ginger for a spicy kick to a sweet dessert.
- For an adventurous drink, add ½ teaspoon grated ginger in your smoothie.
- Try a comforting bowl of chicken ginger broth. Add 1 pound of chicken bones, 4 inch knob of ginger, ½ teaspoon ground turmeric, and 2 cloves of garlic in a pot with 1 gallon of water. Simmer for 1 hour and then strain. Serve hot.
- Sour, spicy, sweet pickled ginger is not just for sushi or sashimi. Sprinkling some pickled ginger on salads or in sandwiches adds a great tangy bite.
- Ginger is a great addition to stir-fry. It pairs well with vegetables like broccoli, broccolini (my favorite!) carrots, water chestnuts, and mushrooms. The longer you cook ginger, the milder it will taste. For a spicier stir-fry, add grated ginger towards the end of the cooking time.
- Store extra ginger that's about to go bad in the freezer. Grate it and place it in ice cube trays. When ready to use, pop out the ginger cube and add to stir-fries, soups, stocks, or smoothies.
- Try these tasty ginger recipes: Ginger Broccolini, Melon Salad with Ginger and Soy Ginger Glazed Salmon
Have you tried eating smaller portions to manage symptoms?