The Effect of Ginger on Asthma
Last updated: June 2021
Certain things besides your prescribed asthma medication can help you find relief from asthma symptoms, including coffee, tea, cold air, fresh air, humidifiers, and even alcohol. Sometimes there is science to explain why these things help, but sometimes there isn't! Approximately 60-70 percent of people living with asthma report using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to self-treat asthma symptoms.1
One herbal remedy that may provide relief from asthma symptoms is ginger. This spicy root has been shown to help reduce inflammation, and there is a clinical trial underway that is investigating the effects of ginger on asthma.1
Asthma and ginger
Certain alternative therapies or herbal remedies, like ginger, can be used in conjunction with prescribed medications to manage asthma. There is anecdotal evidence that the spiciness of ginger, especially raw ginger, may aid in clearing mucus from the throat. Warm ginger tea may feel soothing for an irritated and scratchy throat.
So far, isolated components of ginger have been proven to relax airway smooth muscle (ASM) within 30 minutes in both human and guinea pig test subjects.2 Being exposed to an asthma trigger can cause airway smooth muscle to become inflamed, so ginger may prove to be helpful in this situation. Another study found that a bioactive compound found in ginger, 6-shogaol, can mitigate lung inflammation.3
Current clinical trial
A clinical trial is currently underway that is analyzing the effects of gingers on individuals with asthma. The trial consists of 36 participants who have asthma, and half will receive a 2 gram capsule of ginger extract for 56 days straight while the other half will receive a placebo.
Participants will then be given questionnaires and tested with the following: methacholine challenge, changes in serum cytokines, eosinophilia, and fractional exhaled nitric oxide. Each of these tests assists in the diagnosis of asthma and determines inflammation in the airways.1
The trial is set to end in December 2021, and researchers hypothesize, "...that oral ginger at a dose of 2 grams per day will reduce airway inflammation and will reduce serum levels of asthma-related inflammatory markers."1
How to consume ginger
Ginger has been used as a medicinal herb for 5,000 years, with usage dating back to China and India originally.4 That being said, there are many ways to consume ginger.
Ginger tea is easy to find in most grocery stores and online, and steeping a tea bag in hot water is probably one of the easiest ways to consume ginger (and it's delicious!). Dried ginger powder can be used in cooking, and added to dishes like veggie stir-fries, soups, curries, and rice dishes. Ginger powder capsules can also be ingested, and these can typically be found in the vitamin section of most grocery stores and some pharmacies.
Ginger in no way will cure your asthma, but it may provide some relief if you are experiencing inflammation of the airways. Ginger has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and there are many different ways to consume ginger in your diet. There is currently evidence that shows that ginger can help with inflammation, and a clinical trial is underway to study the effects of ginger on asthma. Before incorporating anything new into your asthma treatments, it is best to consult your doctor.
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