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Ginger And Turmeric Combined Benefits - Herbs And Essential Oils (Research Based)


Two of the most popular herbs in traditional medicine are ginger and turmeric. They have widespread real life applications pertaining to health and are perhaps the most researched herbs. Even turmeric essential oil and ginger essential oil are used for health benefits.

Some people may not be a fan of its aroma, but these oils are blended with floral or citrus-based essential oils and diffused or topically applied for preventing and treating ailments. Ginger and turmeric essential oils are natural plant extracts with the same compounds and therapeutic properties as the plant.

Ginger and turmeric have been used for centuries, especially in the Indian traditional medicine Ayurveda, in dealing with various ailments including stomach distress, tiredness and headaches. Turmeric is used in several rituals. It is used in marriage ceremonies and applied on the skin of the bride and groom to give the skin a glow for their special day. Both these herbs have been used to increase the immune system and prevent diseases and infections.

An informational book on the benefits of these and other herbs has been published in 2011. Another study that details the benefits of turmeric essential oil and its uses was also published not long back. 

Let us look at some of the benefits of ginger and turmeric, the herbs and its essential oils.

What Is Ginger And Ginger Essential Oil?

Ginger is a flowering plant botanically called Zingiber officinale, which belongs to the Zingiberaceae family. (Other herbs and plants of this family are turmeric, cardamom and galangal.) The plant rhizome of ginger root is used as the herb or spice. It is widely used for culinary and therapeutic purposes.

Some of the compounds present in ginger are – gingerol, zingerone, paradol, shogaol, curcumin elemol, camphene, and others.

The therapeutic properties of ginger are – anti-inflammatory, stomachic, carminative, expectorant, and emmenagogue.

The bioactive compounds and their bioactivities of Zingiber officinale or ginger were investigated in a study and published in Food in May 2019. (1)

What Is Turmeric And Turmeric Essential Oil?

Turmeric is a perennial herbaceous flowering plant botanically called Curcuma longa and belongs to the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. The rhizomes (rootstalk) of the plant have long been used in cooking. This plant is native to the Indian subcontinent and has therapeutic properties which have been utilized in Ayurveda. The herb (and hence the oil) has a sharp yellow color due to the presence of curcumin.

Some of the compounds present in turmeric are – curcumin, curcuminoid, piperine, elemene, curcumol, valeric acid, zingiberene and others.

The therapeutic properties of turmeric are – anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, stomachic, circulatory, immune- booster, detoxifier, antihistamine and cardio-protective.

A 2008 study looked into the chemical constituents, its composition and biological activities of Curcuma longa or turmeric. (2)

Now, let’s look at the properties or benefits of both ginger and turmeric.

Can Ginger And Turmeric Help With Physical Pain?

It needs to be said here that the research on herbs and essential oils for health is only few. (We know it’s not fair because the research on chemical-based drugs is peer-reviewed. But, we have to work with what we have.)

Lowers Inflammation – Research Based

Ginger and turmeric both have anti-inflammatory properties and can effectively tackle inflammation. Inflammation, especially chronic inflammation, needs to be tackled without any delay as it may result in serious illnesses including heart conditions, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer. Inflammation can also make conditions including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other autoimmune disorders worse.

A study was published in EMBO Reports that analyzed how chronic inflammation turns common diseases into serious issues. (3) The anti-inflammatory qualities of ginger and turmeric (and its essential oils) are powerful and guard the body against inflammation and lowers pain.

The Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine in July 2016 published a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial by Dr Zahra Naderi and team that investigated the effect of ginger on nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a compound that affects inflammation. It was found that consuming ginger supplementation daily lowered inflammation of patients with knee osteoarthritis. (4)

Food and Nutrition in November 2016 showed that consuming ginger could increase C-reactive protein and lipid profile. The study however recommended a larger study group with a longer observation period. (5)

Research on turmeric has also been published. A study published in Oncogene on December 2014 establishes curcumin as a potent anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative agent. Curcumin as you know is an ingredient in turmeric. (6)

Another study in Alternative Medicine Review: a Journal of Clinical Therapeutic published on March 2019 reported that the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric could be effective against inflammatory conditions including IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, chronic anterior uveitis and even some types of cancer. (7)

Dr Nita Chainani-Wu investigated the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin. The study found that the compounds inhibit the molecules that cause inflammation. The study was published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in February 2003. (8)

Ginger And Turmeric for Pain Relief – Research Based

Ginger and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties, but do they provide relief from pain? Here again, curcumin is the main ingredient. It has been proven that this compound is effective in treating pain and is hence often used in therapeutics.

A 2018 study published in the Phytomedicine shows that curcumin is effective in lowering pathological pain. (9) A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial showed that using turmeric compound with frankincense for a period of 12 weeks could lower pain due to osteoarthritis. (10)

Meta analysis of randomized clinical trials showed that taking curcumin reduced joint pain. It was found to be equally or more efficient in treating joint pain. The Journal of Medicinal Food published the research in August 2016. (11)

A small study done during 2018 showed that using curcumin daily increased mobility in the participants suffering with osteoarthritis. (12) Even ginger has shown to alleviate pain due to osteoarthritis and other chronic pains. This was published in Arthritis and Rheumatism in November 2001. (13)

A placebo randomized trial was done to investigate the effect of the rhizomes of Zingiber officinale on the pain due to dysmenorrheal. It was found that when the participants used ginger for 5 days the intensity and duration of the pain due to primary dysmenorrheal reduced. The study was published in July 2012 in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. (14)

If you go to a gym you will experience muscle pain. And if you are a frequent high intensity workout aficionado then this pain will be constant. A study found that consumption of ginger lowered muscle pain. This randomized control trial was published in September 2010 in the Journal of Pain. (15) This same principle is applicable for ginger essential oil. You should not consume the oil, but aromatherapy massage with ginger oil will reduce the pain.

Ginger And Turmeric For Immune Strength – Research Based

In traditional medicine, crushed ginger and turmeric powder is mixed with honey and consumed to boost the immune system. It is taken during cold or flu symptoms. As per research, ginger is said to have a better immunity boosting power than turmeric.

A study has shown that the antiviral properties of fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) were effective against the human respiratory syncytial virus affecting the respiratory tract cell lines. It stops the viral attachment in the airway epithelium thus preventing plaque. This was published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in January 2013. (16)

Another study found that the therapeutic activity of ginger root extract was effective against four strains of pathogens attacking the respiratory tract. This study is from the East African Medical Journal, which published it in November 2002. (17)

The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry published a study in 2016 that investigated the effect of 6-gingerol in the prevention of allergic rhinitis. The result found that the activities of 6-gingerol present in ginger prevented allergic rhinitis or reduced its symptoms (runny or blocked nose). (18)

The peer-reviewed science journal Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology in January 2018 published a study that showed how curcumin mitigated serious influenza pneumonia and protected the lung injury. (19) There are other studies that highlight this property of curcumin. (20) (21)

By lowering the inflammation of the body, ginger and turmeric can improve the immunity of the body. The Journal of Clinical Immunology has published a study on the effect of curcumin on the immune system. (22)

A review of the papers published between 2000 and 2010 on the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of ginger found that not only could ginger treat muscle aches and stomach health, but it could d be a powerful tool in the fight against cancer and diabetes.

Ginger And Turmeric Tackles Nausea – Research Based

In the fight against nausea, ginger is the better option and various studies have shown it to be so. A study in 2007 aimed at the randomized comparison of ginger and dimenhydrinate and analyzed how both were effective in subduing vomiting and nausea in pregnant women.

Taking ginger was more effective and a natural way of treating nausea. (23) The same benefit of ginger was proven in another research which analyzed the effect of ginger on nausea on post-operative patients. (24)

There are several other researches that prove that ginger can tackle nausea irrespective of the causes. It can deal with nausea from motion sickness, stomach problems and even from chemotherapy. (25) (26) (27)

All the above mentioned researches and studies have taken the ginger herb to find out how the compounds in ginger combat nausea from different causes. However, topical application of ginger essential oil or inhaling the aroma of the oil is also effective in dealing with nausea.

How To Use Ginger And Turmeric for Health

Ginger and turmeric have been used in culinary practices for their flavors and fragrances. It also gives the body a good health boost. So, these herbs can be added to the diet to get their benefits.

But, what about ginger essential oil and turmeric essential oil? Can they be consumed as well? The answer is no. Essential oils are natural oils but they should never be ingested. So, how should one use these essential oils so as to get the benefits of the oils?

There are two main ways of using ginger and turmeric essential oils.

  • Diffusion aromatherapy – A few drops of either ginger essential oil or turmeric essential oil or both are added to an aroma diffuser. After a few minutes the surrounding is filled with the aroma of these oils. (If you do not like the aroma then add a few drops of lavender essential oil along with these oils into the diffuser.) Now, inhale the aroma of the oil with slow deep breaths and exhale slowly. Repeat these steps for 20 minutes. Later, take a break for 5 minutes and repeat the breathing technique for 10 minutes.
  • Massage oil Aromatherapy – Assume that you are massaging your stomach. Take 5 to 10 drops of either ginger essential oil or turmeric essential oil or both and dilute it with a carrier oil including coconut oil, jojoba oil or grapeseed oil. If the aroma of ginger or turmeric is too pungent add a few drops of any floral essential oil. Now apply the oil on the stomach and massage it with a suitable pressure till the oil absorbs into the skin. Leave it for some time before washing it off.

Ginger and Turmeric - Possible Side Effects And Precautions

  • Ginger and turmeric whether it is ingested or applied as essential oils are considered safe when used in moderation. However, there can be certain side effects of using these two herbs.
  • A study has shown that excess use of ginger and ginger essential oil will decrease the clotting of blood. Anyone using blood thinning medications must avoid using ginger and its essential oil or use it in small quantities. PLOS One published the study in 2015. (28)
  • The Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research in 2015 published a study on the effect of ginger on fasting blood sugar and other parameters. It was found that it increased the complications of diabetes. Those on diabetes medication or even those bothered with their sugar levels must consult with their healthcare provider. (29)
  • The therapeutic curcumin is found in very small quantities in the herbs and essential oils. It does not mean that you should increase the dose of ginger and turmeric to get the maximum benefits. It should be made a practice to use these herbs regularly. The content of curcumin in turmeric was analyzed and published in 2006. (30)
  • Also, using curcumin in high doses can result in side effects including rashes and headaches. A study was published in March 2006 regarding the dosage of curcumin. (31)
  • Remember that the research and studies analyzing the benefits and uses of ginger and turmeric herbs and essential oils are limited. There is a need for more research with more participants.
  • It is always a good idea to consult a doctor whenever in doubt. This is especially true if you are using essential oils for wellness.
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