16 December 2021 / Caitlin Devlin
Ginger Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits
Warming ginger has a vast range of medicinal benefits, and can even act as an aphrodisiac.
Known as ‘the oil of empowerment’ because of its ability to boost mood and confidence, ginger has a had an incredibly diverse history of use.
Ayurvedic medicine considered ginger a ‘universal remedy’ for centuries, prescribing it for all manner of ailments, and the Romans and Greeks employed it in particular to aid digestion. These gastric health benefits were so famous that the Chinese Emperor Confucius was said to never be without ginger when he ate. Today, ginger oil is still used to aid digestive health and boost mood, as well as in the treatment of common illnesses and ailments.
Ginger essential oil supports digestion.
Ginger oil is one of the best oils to treat a wide variety of gastric complaints. A 2015 animal study found that ginger oil could inhibit the growth of ulcers in the stomach by up to 85%, and ginger’s gastroprotective properties have also been used to treat indigestion, diarrhoea, and even colic.
One of ginger’s most famous traditional uses is in the treatment of nausea – it has long been a popular household remedy for sickness and vomiting. A study in 2014 was able to demonstrate this link when it found that ginger oil was able to reduce feelings of nausea after surgical procedures. Inhaling ginger oil may help to provide protection to the gut and relief from nausea.
Inhaling diffused ginger oil is a great way to experience these benefits – as ginger oil can be phototoxic, it is safer not to apply it to the skin before stepping out into direct sunlight.
It can treat cold symptoms.
Ginger oil is also a popular home remedy for the common cold. Ginger oil is a natural expectorant, helping to get mucus moving through blocked airways and flush out harmful bacteria. Its antiseptic properties help it to protect against infections and kill pathogens responsible for cold symptoms, whilst its anti-inflammatory properties, which it owes to the components gingerol and zingiberene, help to soothe swelling in the lungs and open airways.
A study in 2013 found that ginger can cause a significant and rapid relaxation of human airway smooth muscles, preventing the restriction of airways and allowing easier breathing even through stuffed noses.
It can help manage pain.
The component zingiberene in ginger oil has been found to have powerful pain-relieving properties. A study in 2001 found that ginger oil was associated with reducing inflammation-induced pain and was able to treat symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee, and a further study in 2010 found that ginger was able to reduce exercise induced muscle pain by 25%.
Zingiberene not only has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, but is also believed to reduce the amount of prostaglandins in the body, which are compounds associated with the sensation of pain. This allows ginger oil to soothe swollen muscles and joints whilst also inhibiting the pain response.
It lifts mood – and also helps to set one.
A study in 2010 found that ginger oil activated the human serotonin receptor, providing a possible explanation as to why ginger oil has always been associated with confidence and happiness. It has been found that ginger oil can help to reduce the severity of low mood in women suffering from PMS, and many people use ginger oil to help combat anxiety.
Ginger oil’s mood boosting effects are so pronounced, in fact, that for centuries it has been considered an aphrodisiac. Ginger’s warming and stimulating properties, as well as the stress-relief that it provides, are said to help combat problems such as impotence and loss of libido.
Associated strongly with both good health and confidence, ginger oil works hard to keep us feeling positive. It’s no mystery where ginger’s association with empowerment came from, and no surprise that it has endured in medicine for thousands of years.
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