While there are a handful of all-star options—lemongrass, lavender, eucalyptus, the list goes on—one of the best when it comes to reducing bodily pain-related ailments is none other than ginger oil, which has been shown to help reduce knee pain, chronic lower back pain, arthritis4, and beyond due to its anti-inflammatory properties, simply by massaging it into the skin or when ingested in some cases. Ahead we delve into the benefits of ginger oil, and how to easily prepare a batch of this essential oil at home.
A few impressive ginger oil benefits
First things first, it's important to define what exactly an essential oil is. In short, they're "aromatic liquid substances that are extracted from different kinds of plant materials using the process of steam distillation," Amy Galper, aromatherapist and founder of the New York Institute of Aromatherapy, previously shared with Well+Good. "What that means is that it takes a lot of plant material to yield a tiny amount of essential oils, so essential oils are highly concentrated and potent. They are made up of hundreds of different aromatic molecules, and when we inhale and smell them, they can have a profound effect on our emotions, psychology, and physical well-being."
But smelling and inhaling the aromas emitted from essential oils is just one of the ways you can reap the many benefits of these elixirs. In fact, there's extensive evidence linked to ginger extract benefits when consumed or used topically, all of which center primarily around its anti-inflammatory properties. One smaller study that evaluated the effects of consuming ginger extract in order to treat knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis2 found that it had a statistically significant effect on reducing symptoms.
Another smaller study that evaluated the effects of pairing massage therapy with aromatic ginger oil3 to help relieve chronic lower back pain found that the combination could potentially be beneficial in providing a holistic care plan for certain individuals. Although, the study states that more research is needed to definitively determine the implications of using ginger oil along with the massage therapy.
Lastly, a non-human study on the anti-inflammatory effects of the essential oils of ginger in experimental rheumatoid arthritis4 found that "enhanced anti-arthritic efficacy of chemically complex ginger extracts is likely due to additive effects of both classes of secondary metabolites present in the crude extract, the gingerols and essential oils, while its ability to block granulomatous inflammation is likely attributable to the polar compounds that are also present in the crude extract." In other words, the compounds found in ginger can potentially help with the reduction of inflammation.
How ginger oil differs from ginger root
In truth, ginger oil and ginger root contain the same properties and medicinal health benefits. However, they differ in the sense that ginger oil has a more concentrated level of gingerol, a bio-active compound in ginger which has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant affects. As such ginger oil or extract can be used to more effectively treat certain ailments.
How do you make ginger essential oil at home?
While you can buy the powerful oil in stores, you can also make it yourself—and it's not nearly as complicated as you'd think: All it takes is one cup fresh ginger root, one-and-a-half cups olive oil, and a few simple steps. After rinsing the ginger—skin included—let it sit out until it dries, which might take two to three hours. Once dry, take a cheese grater and shred it, adding it into an oven-safe bowl as you go. Then, pour in the olive oil and put the mix in the oven at 150°F for two hours. The key is cooking the ingredients low and slow to ensure you don't burn the mixture, but rather infuse it slowly.
Once the time is up, remove the bowl and pour the oil through a cheesecloth or very tight strainer into another bowl in order to get rid of all the tiny pieces of ginger. When the chunks are gone and you're left with just the smooth oil, transfer it to a clean bottle using a funnel, where it will stay fresh for up to six months as long as you keep it somewhere cool.
Meanwhile, if you're looking to add even more anti-inflammatory benefits into the infusion, you can include ingredients like cinnamon and lemon zest too, as demonstrated in this TikTok video by @natural.nan.
@natural.nan Make your own anti-inflammatory ginger oil at home! 🧑🍳 Follow this steps for an easy way to make this healing oil from the comfort of your own kitchen. #DIY #GingerOil #AntiInflammatory #fypシ ♬ Summer day - TimTaj
Can I use ginger powder to make ginger oil?
According to the folks at Johns Hopkins Medicine, when it comes to the differences in similarities between ginger root vs. ginger powder, there are a few things to keep in mind. Although both forms contain all the impressive health benefits of ginger, they note that the flavor of the fresh root might be more enticing and appealing to certain palates. That said, ginger powder is equally as nutritious as its fresh counterpart, and is even more convenient and economical. Ultimately, you can't go wrong with either option.
The good news? You can certainly use ginger powder, or even ginger paste, to make ginger oil too. The Nerdy Farm Wife suggests making the oil by placing several spoonfuls of ground ginger in a small jar, and covering it with olive oil or sweet almond oil. Then, you'll want to cover and shake the infusion to distribute the ingredients evenly. Once fully combined, you'll want to let it sit out for several weeks in a cool, dark area in your home, giving it a shake here and there to ensure the powder doesn't settle in one area or clump up in the jar.
After about four to six weeks roughly, you can strain out the mixture, and store it in a clean, dry, and cool container with a tight-fitting lid until you're ready to dig in. The blogger also states that the mixture can keep fresh for about a year if stored properly.
How to use ginger oil
Now that you have your homemade ginger oil all bottled up and ready to go, how do you go about using it? According to the Cleveland Clinic, gently massaging it into the areas causing issues is one of the easiest ways to use your fresh batch of ginger oil. That's because as you rub an essential oil into your skin, it becomes absorbed into your body and makes its way into your bloodstream. As such, its positive effects can be noticed within just a few minutes and potentially last several hours. Or, you can always add a few drops of your oil to make some refreshing ginger drinks when in a pinch.
See? Easy peasy. And the best part: you can use it to cook with too–something a prescription definitely can't do. Although, keep in mind that there are instances for when to avoid ginger, such as if you have a food intolerance or allergy to the ingredient. To err on the side of caution, it's always best to consult with a healthcare professional to learn if ginger oil is right for you.
Until then, here's the easy hack you need to peel ginger like a pro and what to do with your leftover ginger peels that doesn't involve chucking them into the trash bin. Or, meet ginger's must-try anti-inflammatory cousin for even more health perks.
How to prepare an easy anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting ginger shot in mere minutes:
- Lakhan, Shaheen E et al. “The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy in Reducing Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Pain research and treatment vol. 2016 (2016): 8158693. doi:10.1155/2016/8158693
- Altman, R D, and K C Marcussen. “Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis.” Arthritis and rheumatism vol. 44,11 (2001): 2531-8. doi:10.1002/1529-0131(200111)44:11<2531::aid-art433>3.0.co;2-j
- Sritoomma, Netchanok et al. “The effectiveness of Swedish massage with aromatic ginger oil in treating chronic low back pain in older adults: a randomized controlled trial.” Complementary therapies in medicine vol. 22,1 (2014): 26-33. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2013.11.002
- Funk, Janet L et al. “Anti-Inflammatory Effects of the Essential Oils of Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) in Experimental Rheumatoid Arthritis.” PharmaNutrition vol. 4,3 (2016): 123-131. doi:10.1016/j.phanu.2016.02.004
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