In the cold season, many swear by ginger. Not only does it look good in hot tea, it also gives many dishes that certain something.
Ginger is crooked, wrinkled, and out of shape. Fortunately, as is well known, it is the inner values that count. And under its skin there are quite a few good properties: Vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium and much more make ginger a real health booster. Especially when it is cold outside and there is an acute danger of catching a cold, it ends up in the hot teacup for many.
Asian medicine has relied on the healing powers of the tuber for 3000 years. She uses it for headaches, gastritis, rheumatism or muscle pain. It is also very much in vogue in this country: ginger shots are booming. The pharmacy cabinets are full of ginger products. And numerous advertising messages attribute the tuber to almost superpowers. It should even protect against corona infection. But does ginger really keep what it promises?
There are 150 ingredients in ginger, essential oils are medically important
Ginger, also called Zingiber officinale, grows as a one and a half meter high leaf plant in tropical or subtropical countries. There are around 150 ingredients in it. Medically significant are the essential oils it contains and the pungent substances that give it its exotic pungency. “These are above all the gingerols, which are particularly present in fresh ginger, and the shogaols in dried products,” says Anja Schwengel-Exner, nutritionist at the Bavarian Consumer Center.
Whether the tuber is a real virus killer and has antiviral or antibacterial effects has not been scientifically confirmed. Nevertheless, its active ingredients can support us in the cold season. “The pungent substances in ginger, for example, have a positive influence on the intestinal environment, which is the main engine of our immune system. Incorrect colonization with unfavorable bacterial strains can be reduced there via the ginger, ”explains the nutrition expert. Bacteria, which are more important for our immune system and have a defensive effect against pathogens, could settle better this way. “But that’s not exactly the ginger that affects the virus.”
Is ginger a virus killer?
So ginger is not a virus killer. But what if your nose is runny and your throat tickles? Does ginger tea help against a cold? “There is not enough clinical data to officially confirm this,” explains Gerhard Franz, a specialist in pharmaceutical biology from the University of Regensburg. There are still indications. Ms. Schwengel-Exner also sees the positive effects of ginger here: “The phenols irritate the mucous membranes in the bronchi and thus stimulate the production of mucus. This ensures that the secretion can be coughed up better.”
The same applies to the lining of the mouth and nose. “When the immune system is stimulated, the symptoms of a cold or a viral infection in the nose and throat can be alleviated. So it has a secondary, indirect effect ”, confirms Professor Franz. However, if there is also a slight fever, the ginger should be consumed with caution. Because the root heats up properly and can drive the body temperature up further.
Ginger can indirectly support our immune system. Nevertheless, the motto applies: It works for one, but not for another. Our immune system is complex. “It is a multifactorial event. How the ginger works often has something to do with the genetic disposition of the individual, ”explains Ms. Schwengel-Exner.
Does ginger help you lose weight?
On the other hand, its direct effectiveness against nausea has been well researched. A piece of ginger or candy before a trip – this is not just an old truism among seafarers, it actually makes sense. “The gingerols act on certain receptors in the stomach and cause the stomach movement to normalize,” explains Professor Franz. However, pregnant women and sensitive people should enjoy the ginger with caution, as the ginger can also be very irritating to the gastrointestinal tract May make nausea worse.
However, many of the myths that circulate remain myths. For example, the claim that ginger helps you lose weight is more a wish than a truth. Although ginger has a digestive effect, this property does not make it an appetite suppressant or pound melter.
Ginger also goes well with cabbage
Nevertheless, it cuts a fine figure in the kitchen. Gourmets love its sweet spiciness, with which it livenes up dishes. It not only tastes good in the Asian curry pan, it is also a good companion with traditional home cooking. “You can also spice up the classic red cabbage with ginger. Ginger goes well with types of cabbage, ”recommends Schwengel-Exner.
Before it lands on our spice rack, however, the root usually takes a long journey from China or Peru. A good life cycle assessment looks different. Fortunately, the exotic is now also grown in this country. And if you have a little patience and a willingness to experiment, you can even grow ginger on your windowsill at home.
So ginger is not a universal panacea. From naturopathy, Ayurveda, empirical medicine or other alternative healing methods, various good properties can still be ascribed to it. The best way to protect yourself against pathogens is probably still not to weaken the immune system. And a hot cup of ginger tea has certainly not harmed anyone.
You can find more helpful information here in our health guide.