Turmeric and Ginger: A Powerful Antioxidant-Rich, Anti-Inflammatory Duo
We’ve been eating turmeric and ginger for thousands of years. Most popular in India and Southeast Asia, these healthy and natural plants are great for cooking and for use in natural, herbal medicine. More recently, studies have shown that the duo has incredible anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. When combined together, they create a powerhouse of benefits for joint health, the immune system, and various other parts of the body.
Benefits Overview: Turmeric and Ginger
Known for fighting pain and inflammation, turmeric and ginger contain two main chemical compounds. It’s these compounds that give the duo such impressive powers.
Tumeric and ginger contain:
- Anti-inflammatory compounds
As a result, these two superfoods can offer:
- Immune system support
- Reduced inflammation and improved joint health
- Pain relief
- Lessened nausea
- Improved brain health
What Are Tumeric and Ginger?
Tumeric and ginger can be eaten fresh, ground, or dried. Both are types of flowering plants used in cooking and in natural medicine though we typically mostly use the root stalks. You can buy the root stalks of each plant at most average grocery stores and use them for cooking or juicing. While you can find and eat both turmeric and ginger fresh, supplementing with the two ensures you get the proper dosage with minimal effort.
Turmeric is known for its intense yellow-orange color and is often used in Indian cooking, giving curry that well-known yellow color. While it is great for flavoring various dishes, it’s also been used as a medicinal herb in India for thousands of years. Turmeric contains curcuminoids - compounds that contain great medicinal properties. Of the curcuminoids, the most important and most active is curcumin. This is what gives turmeric its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects.
Although ginger somewhat resembles turmeric on the outside, the two plants are not the same. Ginger originates from Southeast Asia and is used in cooking for its distinct peppery, sharp flavor. It’s also been used as a natural remedy for thousands of years. Ginger contains phenolic compounds which are responsible for its medicinal properties. In particular, gingerol is a chemical found in ginger that offers intense antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
If you’ve ever taken a wellness shot, you’ve likely noticed that the main ingredients are ginger and turmeric. These ingredients are often the first thing people try to include in their diet when they get the first symptoms of a developing sickness. In several studies, the curcumin in turmeric has been shown to possess anti-viral properties known to reduce the intensity of influenza A.
Ginger is also great for an immune system boost. One study in mice showed that ginger supplementation blocked activation of pro-inflammatory immune cells, decreasing the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Another study completed in test tubes showed that fresh ginger could protect against respiratory tract infections in babies, children, and adults caused by human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV). Yet another study showed that ginger extract could block the growth of strains of respiratory tract pathogens.
Ginger and turmeric are each known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is associated with many health issues. Symptoms can be as small as lowering the function of the immune system and causing pain. However, chronic inflammation can also cause much more severe health issues in the heart, bowels, joints, and more. This is why it’s incredibly important to keep inflammation to a minimum in the body, which can be accomplished by supplementing with ginger and turmeric.
Multiple studies, completed in both humans and test tubes, found that consuming turmeric extract decreases markers of inflammation. A review of 15 studies showed that turmeric supplementation was linked with reduced levels of inflammation markers, including interleukin-6 (IL-6), malondialdehyde (MDA), and C-reactive protein (CRP). Some researchers say that turmeric could be as effective as ibuprofen and aspirin for fighting inflammation.
A review of nine different studies found that people who consumed one to three grams of ginger each day for six to twelve weeks were able to lower their levels of inflammatory marker CRP. In one study of 120 people, taking just one gram of ginger extract each day over the course of three months reduced overall levels of inflammation, as well as levels of nitric oxide, a molecule that plays a part in causing inflammation.
Pain Relief and Joint Health
It’s likely that ginger and turmeric’s anti-inflammatory capabilities are linked to their pain-relieving effects. Interestingly, both can be used to treat multiple types of pain - their effects are not limited to any specific area.
You can use ginger and turmeric to aid with:
- Menstrual pain
- Pain related to swelling, tenderness, or stiffness in the joints
- Hip, knee, and thumb pain
- Sore muscles from exercise
There are numerous studies confirming the pain relief that ginger and turmeric offer. A five-day study of 120 women found that women who consumed 500 mg of ginger root powder three times per day had reduced both the duration and intensity of menstrual pain. Another study of 40 people with joint pain conditions found that consuming 1,500 mg of curcumin each day provided a significant reduction in pain and an improvement in physical function, in comparison with the placebo group who did not receive curcumin. By relieving the inflammation in the joints, curcumin effectively relieves pain and improves mobility and joint health.
One study compared the use of ginger to triptan medication, which is commonly used to treat migraine headaches. The study found that both ginger and triptan resulted in headache relief within two hours - supporting the idea that ginger is equally effective for migraine pain as the leading medication. Finally, another study of 74 people over the course of 11 days found a link between consuming 2 grams of ginger and a significant reduction in muscle pain from exercise.
Ginger and Nausea Relief
Ginger has been historically used to fight nausea. Today, its used to relieve all types of nausea, including:
- General nausea
- Morning sickness
- Motion sickness
- Upset stomach
- Post-surgical nausea
- Chemotherapy-induced nausea
Turmeric and Digestive Health
The curcumin found in turmeric is used in Chinese, Indian, and Western herbal medicines for digestive issues, distention, and abdominal pain. Even the World Health Organization has recommended turmeric to relieve flatulence, acid reflux, and functional dyspepsia - the chronic movement of the upper digestive tract.
While turmeric can soothe the stomach, several studies have shown the effects of the spice on more serious conditions, as well. In one study, 207 people with conditions affecting the large intestine experienced an improvement in their symptoms after taking turmeric tablets. Other studies and clinical trials show that curcumin has beneficial effects for people who have inflammation and sores in the lining of their large intestine, as it effectively mediates the inflammatory process.
Turmeric and Heart Health
Heart conditions are the leading cause of death in the world, with many factors contributing to the issue. Since chronic inflammation can play a role in developing heart conditions, the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin can benefit heart health. Additionally, curcumin can improve the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels. Endothelial dysfunction, like when the endothelium is unable to regulate blood clotting and blood pressure, are major drivers of more severe heart conditions.
Curcumin has also been shown to improve heart health in several studies. One study, in particular, showed that for post-menopausal women, supplementing curcumin was as effective as exercise in improving vascular endothelial function.
Brain Boosting Tumeric
Neurons ensure that all of the necessary functions of life occur by carrying messages throughout the body. Neurons can form new connections, and they can also multiply and increase their numbers in certain parts of the brain, which is key for long-term health. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, is one of the main drivers of this process. BDNF is a gene that helps make a protein that promotes the life of neurons. BDNF is found in parts of the brain that are responsible for learning, memory, drinking, eating, and body weight. Low levels of BDNF have been linked to several brain disorders, including mood and memory disorders.
Curcumin, like that found in turmeric, has been shown to increase levels of BDNF in the brain in animal studies. This means that curcumin may help delay or reverse issues with brain function. It may help improve attention, learning, and memory, though more studies are needed to support the brain effects of curcumin.
Improved Mood From Lowered Inflammation
Growing evidence suggests that inflammation can impact your mental state. There’s also some evidence that having a poor mental state may cause inflammation. In either case, it’s clear that a lowered mental state and chronic inflammation aggravate the effects of each other, exacerbating the issue.
Curcumin’s ability to fight inflammation may mean that it can help improve mood. Animal studies have found that curcumin can impact dopamine and serotonin, two brain chemicals that are key players in controlling mood and behavior. Studies have also found that curcumin may protect against damage to the mitochondria, the energy-producing structures in the cells. Additionally, curcumin may be able to change the parts of the brain that respond to stress.
Several studies have considered the effects of curcumin in addition to other medications and herbs. One study found that curcumin lessened symptoms of sadness in combination with saffron, which is another herb. A separate study from 2015 found that curcumin could make antidepressants more effective.
When Is It Best to Take Ginger and Tumeric?
While ginger and turmeric are helpful for more serious health issues, they’re also great for daily life. For example, taking turmeric after a workout can be incredibly helpful with recovery. While long-term, consistent exercise results in a decrease in inflammation, your body actually experiences a spike of inflammation directly after a workout. Inflammation markers, like CRP, as well as white blood cells and oxidative stress, are at higher levels in the body immediately following exercise. Essentially, your body is on high alert right after your workout.
This short-term inflammation is a good thing - it’s what encourages the body to heal. However, it’s also what causes you to feel sore after a workout, a pain that can sometimes cause you to skip future workouts while you wait to feel better. In a study of mice with access to an exercise wheel, some mice received curcumin and some did not. Those who received curcumin had less inflammation, ran on their exercise wheel more, and ran for longer durations than those who did not get the supplement. This tells us that the curcumin alleviated inflammation and the mice felt better, increasing willingness and desire for exercise.
Ginger can also be helpful for:
- Entering a deeper fasted state with greater fat burn.
- Improving bile levels and, as a result, improving fat digestion.
- For those on the keto diet, ginger can help keep you in ketosis by modulating blood sugar.
Proper Supplementation of Tumeric and Ginger
The curcumin in turmeric is notoriously difficult to absorb. However, consuming turmeric with a dash of black pepper improves absorption by up to 2,000%, so it’s important that whether you’re taking a supplement or eating it as a whole food, you add black pepper to the mix. Both ginger and turmeric can be added to the diet in their whole form, or in dried and ground forms. You should aim for about 1,500 to 2,000 mg of ginger and 500 mg of turmeric per day.
It’s important to note that, on their own, turmeric and ginger have very strong, distinct flavors. They taste bitter, earthy, sharp, and peppery. Getting enough of them via their common use, as spices added to main dishes, can be difficult. Many people take strong-tasting ginger shots or turmeric shots in order to get enough each day. It can be difficult to ensure you’re getting the recommended dose because of the intense flavor that these roots have.
Herbatech’s ginger and turmeric supplement contains the recommended daily allotment of these star ingredients, all in a topical-flavored gummy. No need to choke back pills or spend time in the kitchen whipping up fancy concoctions.
Ginger and curcumin’s high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components make for excellent natural supplements. Whether you need help with joint health or want to support your immune system this season, you can easily get the benefits of this duo with Herbatech’s turmeric and ginger gummies.