We all know how amazing ginger is for our health and well being. But guess what? Many of these benefits translate to ginger essential oil. And they are all proven! So here’s a detailed look at ginger essential oil with its properties, benefits and uses.
Ginger Essential Oil Properties
The botanical name for ginger is Zingiber officinale. Look for this name when buying the oil.
Color & Smell of ginger oil
The color of this oil varies from a light yellow to a somewhat dark, golden color. And do I really have to describe the smell? Heh! The oil smells like ginger – you know – spicy, sharp, earthy, and slightly woody.
What is in ginger essential oil?
The compounds that can be found in ginger essential oil are alpha-zingiberene (which can make up more than 20% of the oil), alpha-farnesene, alpha-pinene, alpha-sesquiphellandrene, beta-bisabolene, beta-elemene, beta-phellandrene, beta-pinene, beta-sesquiphellandrene, borneol, camphene, eucalyptol, gamma-terpineol, geranial, geraniol, linalool, neral, and nerol.
Ginger Essential Oil Benefits
Ginger has been well studied so here are some of the proven benefits of ginger essential oil:
- reduces nausea
- improves breathing
- eases pain
- neutralizes free radicals
- reduces inflammation
- kills bacteria and fungi
- inhibits viruses
- repels and kills insects
Here’s more on ginger essential oil benefits.
It can help with nausea
Quite a few studies have investigated the anti-nausea benefits of this oil. But not all of them agree.
For instance, this 2016 study looked at the nausea relieving effects of nurse-delivered aromatherapy on 10,000 hospital patients. The study – which used lavender, ginger, sweet marjoram and mandarin essential oils – showed that ginger caused the largest average reduction in nausea among the patients.
Somewhat similar results were also found in this 2013 study. It compared the anti-nausea benefits of inhaling (1) ginger essential oil; (2) a blend of essential oils containing ginger, cardamom, peppermint and spearmint; and two controls [(3) isopropyl alcohol and (4) saline] on 1,000 post-op patients.
The researchers found that both the blend (which had ginger in it) and ginger essential oil by itself significantly reduced nausea when compared with saline. But the reduction was far less evident when compared to the alcohol. What does this mean? Well, the placebo effect may have influenced these results. That is, knowing you may feel better after doing something can actually make you feel better even if that something does not work.
This point was also made in a later study (2015). It noted that ginger oil may help with nausea too but suggested that the evidence was not convincing enough for the researchers to recommend it as an effective alternative therapy for nausea.
Since the researchers haven’t reached a definitive consensus, I would say still reach for ginger essential oil if you are feeling nauseous. If it works for you, then awesome! If it doesn’t, then you can try peppermint oil.
For me personally, both ginger and peppermint oils work when I feel nauseous.
It may help you breathe better
A 2013 animal study found that ginger oil and its components eucalyptol, geranial and neral prevented the airways in the animals’ lungs from constricting. Therefore, the researchers proposed the oil may have bronchodilatory benefits.
It may help with pain
A 2014 clinical study provides some insight into this possible benefit of ginger essential oil. It investigated the effects of a Swedish massage with a ginger oil blend (versus a traditional Thai massage) on the chronic back pain of 140 elderly participants. The participants received a 30 minute massage twice a week for five weeks. What happened after was interesting. Both massages caused significant pain relief, but the Swedish massage with ginger oil was considered a bit more effective than the traditional Thai massage.
From these findings, the researchers recommended both massages as options for easing lower back pain.
It is antioxidant
There are no shortage of lab studies showing ginger essential oil has antioxidant benefits.
This 2016 study tested the antioxidant activity of fifteen essential oils. It showed that while clove oil had the strongest antioxidant effects, nutmeg, ginger and palmarosa oils were also highly effective. Another study (2015) which tested ten essential oils found ginger, lemongrass, holy basil and ylang ylang all exhibited very high antioxidant activity.
This 2013 study went a step further. It noted that ginger essential oil is effective against multiple types of free radicals. So ginger oil truly has great antioxidant benefits. But remember these are lab studies and not clinical trials. So yes the oil is antioxidant under lab conditions, but we can’t say for certain (YET) if the oil is antioxidant when used on our bodies.
It may be anti-inflammatory
The very same 2013 study just mentioned also noted that ginger oil caused significant reductions in acute inflammation within the animal models. Therefore, the oil may have anti-inflammatory benefits for us as well. But, again, clinical trials are required to unequivocally prove this benefit.
Ginger essential oil is antibacterial
A 2010 study looked at the antimicrobial activity of cinnamon bark and ginger essential oils against the bacteria: Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Micrococcus luteus, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Serratia marcescens. Both oils inhibited the bacteria under investigation. And the study noted beta-sesquiphellandrene and alpha-zingiberene were among the compounds responsible for ginger’s antibacterial benefits.
It’s antifungal too
Here’s another benefit of ginger essential oil. It is anti-fungal. That is according to this 2004 study that showed the oil completely inhibited the fungi, Fusarium oxysporum.
Ginger oil is also antiviral
This is not a benefit you see everyday. Ginger essential oil can kill viruses and there are studies to prove it. For instance, check out this 2013 study that explored the antiviral activities of 29 essential oils against the tobacco mosaic virus, a virus that affects tobacco plants. The study found that of all the oils tested, ginger, lemon, tea tree, tangerine and lemongrass caused over 50% inhibition of the virus at concentrations under 100 micrograms per milliliters. That’s powerful, right! And alpha-zingiberene was identified as the compound responsible for these effects.
More evidence comes from another study done in 2008. This one tested aniseed, chamomile, ginger, hyssop, sandalwood and thyme essential oils on the herpes simplex virus type 2. The results? Well, ginger essential oil was the third strongest among the oils tested. In fact, it inhibited the virus at concentrations of 0.004%. Amazing right? Note, only sandalwood and chamomile were stronger than ginger.
It is insecticidal
Finally, you can add repellent, insecticidal and larvicidal to the list of ginger essential oil benefits. And just like all the others, there is a lot of research that validates this.
For example, take a look at this 2013 study. It tested the repellent, insecticidal, egg hatching, and persistence of ginger essential oil against the pulse beetle (Callosobruchus chinensis). And as you can expect, ginger essential oil repelled and killed the adult beetles as well as reduced egg laying and egg hatching. Awesome!
Larvicidal benefits against the Aedes aegypti mosquito were also demonstrated in a study done in 2012.
Summary of Ginger Essential Oil Benefits
This has certainly been a long post. So here is a quick look back at the benefits of ginger essential oil.
Uses of Ginger Essential Oil
I absolutely love inhaling ginger essential oil. I find it’s the best way to use the oil. I mean, as you saw, the oil may be able to help you breathe better and possibly ease nausea and anxiety. So try it and see if it works for you.
You can also add it to your diffuser for a warming, spicy smell. And it works really well with so many other essential oils, especially spicy and citrusy oils. So blend ginger essential oil with bergamot, clove, eucalyptus, frankincense, geranium, lemon, lime, mandarin, neroli, palmarosa, rosemary, sandalwood, and ylang ylang oils.
You have a lot of choices there!
Note, I would not recommend using this oil in a massage blend. There are reports that this oil is very warming and can cause skin sensitivity. And it has possible phototoxic effects. That means, you can get a really bad burn if you use the oil on your skin and then go out in the sun. Yikes! So it’s just safer if you don’t use the oil on your skin, to be honest.
Finally, this oil is not recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers as well as persons taking special medication. Ginger oil is powerful, so it is very important to check with your doctor before using this oil. Safety first!
Where to buy ginger essential oil?