Dysmenorrhea refers to pain felt during the menstrual cycle.
One of the traditional uses of ginger is for pain relief, including menstrual pain.
In a 2009 study, 150 women were instructed to take either ginger or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for the first 3 days of the menstrual period.
The three groups received four daily doses of either ginger powder (250 mg), mefenamic acid (250 mg), or ibuprofen (400 mg). Ginger managed to reduce pain as effectively as the two NSAIDs (24Trusted Source).
More recent studies have also concluded that ginger is more effective than a placebo and equally as effective as drugs such as mefenamic acid and acetaminophen/caffeine/ibuprofen (Novafen) (25, 26, 27Trusted Source).
While these findings are promising, higher-quality studies with larger numbers of study participants are still needed (27Trusted Source).
Ginger appears to be very effective against menstrual pain when taken at the beginning of the menstrual period.
May help lower cholesterol levels
High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol are linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
The foods you eat can have a strong influence on LDL levels.
In a 2018 study of 60 people with hyperlipidemia, the 30 people who received 5 grams of ginger-pasted powder each day saw their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels drop by 17.4% over a 3-month period (28).
While the drop in LDL is impressive, it’s important to consider that study participants received very high doses of ginger.
Many cited a bad taste in the mouth as their reason for dropping out of an OA study where they received doses of 500 mg–1 gram of ginger (17).
The doses taken during the hyperlipidemia study are 5–10 times higher. It’s likely that most people may have difficulty taking a 5-gram dose for long enough to see results (28).
In an older study from 2008, people who received 3 grams of ginger powder (in capsule form) each day also saw significant reductions in most cholesterol markers. Their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels dropped by 10% over 45 days (29).
These findings are supported by a study in rats with hypothyroidism or diabetes. Ginger extract lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol to a similar extent as the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin (30Trusted Source).
Study subjects from all 3 studies also experienced drops in total cholesterol. Participants in the 2008 study, as well as the lab rats, also saw reductions in their blood triglycerides (28, 29, 30Trusted Source).
There’s some evidence, in both humans and animals, that ginger can lead to significant reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol, total cholesterol, and blood triglyceride levels.
Contains a substance that may help prevent cancer
Ginger has been studied as an alternative remedy for several forms of cancer.
The anti-cancer properties are attributed to gingerol, which is found in large amounts in raw ginger. A form known as -gingerol is viewed as especially powerful (31Trusted Source, 32).
In a 28-day study of individuals at normal risk for colorectal cancer, 2 grams of ginger extract per day significantly reduced pro-inflammatory signaling molecules in the colon (33).
However, a follow-up study in individuals at a high risk for colorectal cancer didn’t produce the same results (34Trusted Source).
There’s some evidence, albeit limited, that ginger may be effective against other gastrointestinal cancers such as pancreatic cancer and liver cancer (35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source).
It may be effective against breast cancer and ovarian cancer as well. In general, more research is needed (37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).
Ginger contains the substance gingerol, which appears to have protective effects against cancer. However, more studies are needed.
May improve brain function and protect against Alzheimer’s disease