Ginger is a heavenly-scented, tropical green and purple plant that has a long and illustrious history as a medicinal and culinary herb. Its plant family contains sister herbs cardamom and turmeric—which is unsurprising given its delicious flavor.
Hailing from India and China over 5000 years ago, ginger made its way around the world as a key import and export. Fun fact: In medieval England it was imported from India to make sweet treats—namely, gingerbread men, which you can thank Queen Elizabeth I of England for dreaming up.
But ginger’s benefits run deeper than baked goods. “Ginger may help to relieve nausea….and loss of appetite,” says Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN and author of The Small Change Diet.
That said, no one should rely on gingerbread cookies to get the benefits of the herb. Easy solution: ginger water. We’ve all heard of lemon water—which is used for weight management, as an immune boost, and to liven up tasteless H20—but hot ginger water is the new water du jour. And research backs it up.
According to the review Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, ginger’s antiemetic (anti-nausea and vomiting) abilities have been the most widely researched. It’s used for general nausea, as well as pregnancy-related nausea.
The review also cites several studies that looked at ginger’s bioactive compound, gingerol, which, according to The International Journal of Preventative Medicine, may reduce the inflammation that causes post-workout muscle pain. Good to know!
The same review says that ginger boasts strong antioxidant components (one of the most potent ones it contains is called shogaol), which can help fight against free radicals (which cause DNA damage, leading to aging and disease), promote cognitive health, and support healthy blood pressure. And ginger may promote heart health, as well, says the Current Cardiology Reviews.
Ginger is basically safe to ingest, but do speak with your medical practitioner if you have gallstone disease, use blood thinners, or are pregnant. It may, for some, cause abdominal discomfort, says the National Institutes of Health.
Drinking ginger water provides an opportunity to slow down, be mindful, and nourish your body directly from the herb (rather than a pre-packaged ginger product). Its calming scent adds to the experience, too.
Says Gans: “The water’s effectiveness may depend on how much actual ginger is added it. One thing for certain is that the water itself will aid in hydration, and if adding ginger to it helps you to drink more that’s a win-win.”
It’s recommended that you add ¼ tablespoon of fresh ginger to your water, which you should grate yourself to keep it highly bioactive. Don’t peel the skin off—there’s good stuff in there!
Ready to make your own ginger water? Here’s how: