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Ginger has long been used in traditional medicine. The part of the plant that’s used for these purposes is called the rhizome. While it may look like a root, the rhizome is actually an underground stem off of which roots branch.

Continue reading to discover more about ginger oil, its potential health benefits, and how to use it safely.

Ginger plant

Ginger is a member of the same plant family that includes tumeric and cardamom. It can be found throughout the world especially in Asia and Africa. The scientific name of the plant is Zingiber officinale.

Ginger oil is extracted from the ginger rhizome after a distillation process. Like other essential oils, it’s very concentrated.

Ginger oil has a distinct aroma that can be described as strong, warm, or spicy. As such, it’s often used for aromatherapy. Ginger oil can also be used in a variety of applications in the skin and hair.

Ginger and ginger oil have also been used to help ease the following conditions:

Some of the potential benefits of ginger essential oil are anecdotal. This means that they’re based off of personal reports or testimony as opposed to scientific studies.

However, there has been ongoing research into the possible health benefits of ginger oil. Continue reading to learn more about what the research says.

Anti-inflammatory

Studies have begun to investigate the anti-inflammatory effects of ginger oil. Although many of these studies have been in animals, the results could have implications for a variety of conditions.

A 2018 study found that ginger essential oil had a protective effect on the kidneys of rats treated with the toxin cadmium. Ginger oil was found to be anti-inflammatory, preventing changes in kidney function markers or molecules associated with inflammation.

A 2016 study was performed in a rat model of rheumatoid arthritis. Investigators found that injecting ginger essential oil didn’t reduce acute joint swelling but significantly inhibited chronic joint swelling.

Lastly, a 2019 study looked into the effect of supplementing ginger extract into the diet of obese mice on a highly refined carbohydrate diet. The researchers found that high doses of ginger extract prevented increases in weight and decreased markers of inflammation.

Nausea

Inhaling the aroma from ginger oil has been used as a way to relieve nausea. Study results looking into this use have been mixed.

One 2017 study assessed the effectiveness of inhaling ginger oil to relieve postoperative nausea following abdominal surgery. Investigators found that participants that had inhaled ginger oil rated their levels of nausea and vomiting lower than those in the placebo group.

However, another study found conflicting results. Investigators compared levels of postoperative nausea in children inhaling a blend of essential oils (which included ginger) or placebo. They found that there was no difference in nausea between children inhaling the essential oil blend and children inhaling placebo.

Hair applications

Ginger oil or extract is sometimes included in shampoos or other hair products, as it’s believed to promote hair health and growth. But, little research has been performed on whether this is actually the case.

A 2013 study looked at the effect of 6-gingerol, an active ingredient in ginger oil, on hair growth in cultured cells and in mice. Instead of finding that 6-gingerol promoted hair growth, researchers actually found it suppressed hair growth, both in cultured hair follicles and in a mouse model.

Skin applications

More research is needed to explore and verify the benefit of topical use of ginger oil and its affect on things like inflammation and skin’s appearance.

A 2015 study looked at the suitability of several essential oils, including ginger oil, for use in antiwrinkle cream. Ginger oil, along with other essential oils, was found to have high antioxidant activity.

When these essential oils were blended together in a cream, a reduction in skin roughness was seen in a small group of volunteers.

One study in a rat model of arthritis assessed the effects of daily application of a blend of several essential oils applied to the skin. One of the included essential oils was ginger.

The researchers found that rats treated with the essential oil blend had lower arthritis severity and lower levels of inflammation.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ginger oil is “generally recognized as safe” and few adverse effects have been reported.

As with any essential oil, ginger oil is very concentrated and shouldn’t be applied to the skin undiluted. If you’re concerned about a potential skin reaction, you should first test a small amount of diluted ginger oil on your skin.

It’s important to remember that essential oils should never be consumed or ingested.

Continue reading to learn how to use ginger oil safely and effectively for both aromatherapy and topical applications.

Aromatherapy

There are several ways that you can inhale ginger oil for aromatherapy. You can choose which one is right for you:

Diffuser

Diffusers are a great way to add a pleasing scent to a room. In some cases, the essential oil may need to be diluted in water. Always be sure to carefully follow the instructions that come with your diffuser.

Steam inhalation

To use ginger oil for steam inhalation, follow the steps below:

  • Heat water until it’s steaming and place it in a bowl.
  • Add a few drops of ginger oil to the steaming water. The University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality and Healing (CSH) recommends only starting with one to two drops.
  • Drape a towel over your head.
  • Keeping your eyes closed, place your head over the steaming bowl and inhale deeply.

Sprays

Ginger oil in a spray can be used to freshen the air in a room. To make a spray of ginger oil, you can do the following:

  • Add ginger oil to water. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) recommends using 10 to 15 drops per ounce of water.
  • Add a dispersing agent such as solubol if you wish. This can help distribute the essential oil in the water.
  • Shake and spray. Shake before every spray.

Topical applications

Ginger oil that’s being applied to the skin should always be diluted in carrier oil first. Some examples of carrier oils include almond oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil.

CSH recommends that an essential oil solution shouldn’t exceed 3 to 5 percent. For example, to make a 3 percent solution, NAHA recommends adding 20 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.

In addition to ginger oil, ginger comes in other forms and many of these are edible and used in cooking or flavoring. Ginger comes in the following forms:

  • fresh
  • dried
  • ground or powdered
  • pickled
  • candied

While there’s still limited research into ginger oil specifically, there’s a lot of research into other forms of ginger. Below are some examples:

  • One 2015 study found that taking ginger capsules prior to exercise resulted in a significant decrease in pain compared to when capsules were taken after exercise. Taking ginger capsules before exercise also led to decreased levels of an inflammatory marker.
  • A 2018 review of studies looked at the effectiveness of ginger in relieving nausea associated with pregnancy. Ten studies were evaluated. Overall, ginger was found to be an effective means of relieving nausea during pregnancy.
  • A 2018 review of studies found that ginger didn’t perform better than placebo in relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Meanwhile, ginger increased stomach emptying in people with functional dyspepsia, but didn’t alleviate nausea or abdominal discomfort.

Ginger oil is an essential oil extracted from the rhizome of the ginger plant. Research into the benefits of ginger oil indicates that it has anti-inflammatory properties and that it could be helpful in easing feelings of nausea.

Ginger oil has a warm, spicy scent and can be used in aromatherapy and for topical applications. When applying ginger oil to the skin, always remember to dilute it in carrier oil first.