Most people will have heard of at least turmeric or ginger, if not both. You might have heard of some of the benefits of using these roots in cooking or as supplements. But did you know that together they make a pretty potent power couple?
Turmeric and ginger are both the roots belonging to the same flowering plant family known as Zingiberaceae. Both turmeric and ginger originate from Asia. Used separately, they each have their own unique benefits.
Turmeric and ginger have also traditionally been used together, both in a variety of cuisines and for their medicinal properties. And for good reason! They both come with a whole host of potential health benefits. Let’s take a closer look at the potential health benefits and uses of taking turmeric and ginger.
What is ginger?
People commonly use ginger, also known as Zingiber officinale or ginger root, as a spice. This is thanks to its sweet yet spicy flavor. People use ginger in both sweet and savory dishes, from curries to baked goods such as gingerbread cookies.
Ginger root can come in many different forms. People use it fresh, powdered, dried, or even as a juice. Many people also often add fresh ginger to smoothies or teas.
Some of the potential benefits of ginger include:
Supporting inflammatory responses
Most of the benefits of ginger are associated with its main bioactive compound, gingerol. This compound is, in fact, a natural oil found in ginger root. Some studies suggest that gingerol is an antioxidant and can be helpful in supporting healthy inflammatory responses.
Aiding symptoms of nausea
Some use ginger to aid with nausea or vomiting. A common side effect of motion sickness, for example, is nausea. Some people find that taking ginger can help to ease the symptoms of different types of nausea.
May help support healthy cholesterol levels
Some recent studies suggest that taking ginger supplements can have a beneficial impact on cholesterol levels. This is particularly true for the type of cholesterol that’s often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, or LDL.
Promoting gut health
Many people often use ginger to help soothe other tummy troubles. Some research has found that ginger might be helpful for people with digestive complaints such as indigestion. The studies claim that because ginger may help with emptying the stomach, it can help to ease symptoms associated with indigestion, for example.
Uses of ginger
Ginger comes in many different forms, and because of this can be used in a variety of ways. Some ways of using ginger include:
- Adding it to herbal tea (often with a slice of lemon) to soothe digestive issues
- Fresh or powdered in smoothies, hot dishes, and baked goods
- In a juicer, either mixed with other fruits or vegetables or on its own as a ginger shot
- As a natural supplement, in pill or capsule form
- In a chewable candy form as a sweet treat
- Ginger oil is used as a flavoring or a supplement
What is turmeric?
Turmeric, also known as Curcuma longa, is the root of a flowering plant related to ginger. Like ginger, turmeric has also been used as a spice for cooking for centuries. Especially in cuisine from the Middle East and Southeast Asia. In countries like India, people use turmeric for the host of health benefits that it offers. In recent years, turmeric has also become popular as a dietary supplement.
Like ginger, turmeric root comes in many different forms including fresh, dried, or ground. Pairing turmeric with black pepper can help boost its beneficial effects. Black pepper extract is thought to help curcumin, a compound in turmeric, more bioavailable. This essentially means that the body can absorb it more easily.
Some benefits of turmeric include:
Supporting inflammatory responses
The main active ingredient found in turmeric root is a compound called curcumin. This important compound is thought to be a powerful antioxidant. Some studies have found that antioxidants may help protect the body against damage caused by so-called free radicals.
Proponents of curcumin claim that curcumin can help support healthy inflammatory responses in the body. This is why many brands add it to their joint support formulas. One study, conducted on participants with rheumatoid arthritis, saw positive results with curcumin use.
Due to its beneficial bioactive compounds, more and more researchers are interested in exploring turmeric’s potential inflammatory response support. A number of studies have been conducted to look into this further (1, 2, 3). And there will surely be more!
Promoting heart health
Turmeric may have a beneficial impact on heart health. One study showed that volunteers who took 500mg of curcumin every day saw positive effects on their HDL, or “good” cholesterol, levels. On average, the total cholesterol of the participants dropped by 11.63 % and their HDL increased by 29% in only seven days.
Some researchers believe that curcumin may help to support healthy digestion. They claim that because of this, it could possibly be beneficial for a healthy metabolism and general fitness. However, more research should be conducted in order to better support these claims.
Cognitive and mood benefits
Some studies suggest that curcumin may have a positive impact on mood. A study conducted in 2014, suggested that curcumin may be beneficial for those who experience symptoms of depression.
Curcumin might also have a beneficial effect on brain health. It may be helpful with thinking more clearly and recalling memories more efficiently. It may even aid with cognitive decline, as one study suggests.
People use turmeric in many ways that are similar to ginger, for example:
- Turmeric tea is a popular way of consuming fresh turmeric
- Added as a spice to food, for example, to stir-fries
- Added to beverages (turmeric lattes, anyone?)
- As a natural supplement
- In cosmetics
What are the health benefits of ginger and turmeric together?
As you can see, turmeric and ginger share many of their key benefits. These are namely:
- Promoting healthy inflammatory responses:
Both ginger and turmeric (curcumin) have been studied and used extensively for their anti-oxidant effects and abilities to prove inflammatory support.
- Aiding discomfort:
Turmeric and ginger have both been shown to be useful for people who experience various forms of discomfort. This is especially true for those who regularly deal with joint discomfort caused by issues with joint health.
- Supporting immune function:
Both of these plants have been used for centuries as natural remedies for supporting immune function. Recently more and more research has been conducted into the efficacy of using ginger and turmeric as immune boosters.
- Other beneficial effects on heart, brain, and digestive health.
The main differences between turmeric and ginger are their main active compounds. The main active ingredient in ginger is, as we mentioned earlier, gingerol. Curcumin is the name of the main active compound found in turmeric. Because they have different compounds, these roots are different in some ways. For example, when it comes to their color, flavor, and the way they function.
How can I use turmeric and ginger together?
Turmeric and ginger make such a great pair! It’s no surprise, then, that we often find them together. This power couple feature in a whole host of different recipes and products. Many herbal teas and foods include both of these ingredients thanks to their combined benefits. However, it may be difficult to get the optimum amounts of ginger and turmeric through diet alone.
Consuming turmeric and ginger in the form of a dietary supplement can be helpful in ensuring that you can reap most of the benefits of these natural ingredients. The recent boom in gummy supplements, for example, means that you can reap the benefits of both ginger and turmeric in one single gummy. This is a great option for taking these as dietary supplements because let’s face it, who wouldn’t want a supplement that tastes amazing while giving your health a boost.
Like with any dietary supplement, its always a good idea to consult with a doctor or health practitioner for medical advice. This is especially true if you have any prior medical conditions.