Ginger: 4 Cognitive Benefits

Ginger: 4 Cognitive & Mental Health Benefits

Key Takeaways

Ginger Brain Benefits

1. Depression Alleviation

Ginger alleviates depression by boosting serotonin and dopamine, while its anti-inflammatory properties contribute to its mood-lifting effects.

2. Protection From Brain Damage

Ginger protects against brain damage by providing antioxidants that defend the brain from free radicals, potentially aiding memory recovery and supporting glial cells health.

3. Memory Enhancement

Ginger improves memory by enhancing cognitive functions such as memory recall and reaction time, possibly by boosting acetylcholine, a key component for learning and memory.

4. Migraine Headaches Alleviation

Ginger alleviates migraine headaches with pain-relieving properties that rival some prescription medications but without the associated side effects or drug interactions.

What Is Ginger

You know ginger, right? That zesty thing you toss into your stir-fry or see in sushi places? Well, it's not just some random spice. Beyond adding a kick to our food, ginger's got some legit wellness superpowers.

Ever had an upset stomach, and someone told you to sip some ginger tea? That's because ginger's known to soothe the tummy. But what might surprise you is that this little root (technically, it's called a rhizome, but let's not get too geeky) is a brain booster, too.

Ginger has been around forever. It's been on the menu for like 5,000 years, and not just for the taste. [1] Folks in China and India recognized its healing mojo ages ago. They used it for everything—from sorting out digestive issues to dealing with nasty colds, achy joints, thumping headaches, and even high blood pressure.

Fun fact: even though ginger originally came from China, India is the top ginger producer nowadays. So, next time you nibble on gingerbread or drink a ginger-infused drink, remember – it's not just the flavor you're getting, but some age-old health benefits too!

The Science Behind How Ginger Works

Scientists have been digging into ginger’s benefits and uncovered over 400 active compounds. [2] Among these, there are around 50 that act as antioxidants. [3] Think of antioxidants as a shield for our cells, especially our brain cells, which are vulnerable to damage from environmental nasties.

The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger are not just for those achy joints. There is growing evidence that many mental health challenges – like anxiety, Alzheimer’s, depression, and even Parkinson’s – have links to brain inflammation. [4] And ginger has specific compounds, namely 10-gingerol [5], and 6-shogaol, that tackle this. [6]

Another interesting fact is how ginger promotes better blood flow to the brain. Good blood flow ensures our brain gets the nutrients it needs while flushing away the waste.

Plus, ginger seems to have a role in upping levels of neurotransmitters. Those are the chemicals that let our brain cells communicate with one another.

Lastly, you probably heard about curcumin in turmeric. Well, ginger has it too. [7] Curcumin is a multitasker – from its anti-inflammatory benefits to even showing promise in treating conditions like depression. [8] Research has suggested that curcumin might be as effective as antidepressants like Prozac. [9]

So, while ginger adds flavor to our meals, its benefits go well beyond the plate. Let’s check some of these brain benefits.

1. Ginger Alleviates Depression

Ginger is a little mood-lifting magician. How? It has a knack for boosting two major mood players in your brain: serotonin and dopamine. [10]

Serotonin? That's the 'happy vibe' molecule. Think of it as your brain's saying, 'Life's pretty darn good.' Now, when serotonin levels dip, the clouds of depression can roll in. But ginger boosts serotonin, keeping the good vibes flowing.

Then there's dopamine – the 'get up and do stuff' molecule. It's like that motivational coach in your brain, pushing you to focus, get things done, and even enjoy the little wins. And guess what? Ginger promotes its secretion too.

Also, ginger's anti-inflammatory powers can lend a hand in the fight against depression. [5] Science is starting to see a connection between inflammation and feeling down in the dumps. Ginger's anti-inflammatory effects are like a shield against the blues.

2. Ginger Protects Against Brain Damage

Antioxidants are the bodyguards of your cells, and ginger is loaded with them. Their main job? To protect your brain from these pesky troublemakers called free radicals.

Picture free radicals like those random ping-pong balls bouncing everywhere, causing chaos. They're just oxygen molecules that've gone a little rogue during the usual energy-making process in our body. But if there are too many of them, they start to wreak havoc – from causing inflammation to making our cells age before their time and even messing with our cell DNA.

Your brain is especially at risk from these free radicals. Why? Because your brain loves oxygen, it always uses tons of it. And everyday stuff can increase free radical production, from the air pollution on your commute, that Friday night drink, to the fried snack you had, the stress from work, or even that secondhand smoke at the street corner. [11]

But ginger's here with its antioxidant bodyguards to put those free radicals in check. Studies found that ginger's antioxidants guard the brain against further damage and can help memory recovery if someone's had a stroke. [12]

And there's more – ginger has a protective hand over these special brain cells called glial cells. [13] These cells are like the unsung heroes, helping maintain other brain cells and clearing out the junk linked to Alzheimer's.

3. Ginger Improves Memory

Traditionally, people used ginger to treat dementia. It turns out they were onto something! Not only has ginger been used for ages to tackle memory issues, but science is backing that up today. [14]

Recent studies took a bunch of healthy folks and gave them ginger supplements. The results showed that they got better at remembering stuff, got quicker in their reactions, and could focus better. [15]

Additionally, ginger might put the brakes on Alzheimer’s progression thanks to its bioactive compounds. They boost acetylcholine, which is crucial for our learning and memory. 

In fact, some of the primary drugs prescribed for Alzheimer’s patients operate on the same principle. They work to keep more acetylcholine around in the brain by blocking the thing that breaks it down. [16]

So, in a way, ginger might be the answer to memory-boosting meds!

4. Ginger Alleviates Migraine Headaches

Ginger is a natural secret weapon against pounding migraine headaches. In fact, its pain-relieving powers are so impressive that they can stand toe-to-toe with some prescription migraine meds, like sumatriptan (you might know it as Imitrex). [17]

While sumatriptan does its job by tightening blood vessels around the brain, it isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. It can have many side effects, and if someone's taking SSRI antidepressants, they should keep their distance. Mixing the two can lead to a risky situation called serotonin syndrome.

But here's the beauty of ginger: it gives migraine relief without the scary side effects or the worry of risky drug interactions. So, while it's always important to chat with a doctor, ginger might be a gentler option for some headache sufferers.

Ginger Tea Recipes to Consider

Classic Ginger Tea


  • Fresh ginger root: 1-2 inches, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Water: 2 cups
  • Honey or lemon (optional): to taste


  1. Boil the water in a saucepan.
  2. Add the ginger slices to the boiling water.
  3. Simmer for 10-15 minutes on low heat.
  4. Strain the tea into a cup.
  5. Add honey or lemon if desired.

Ginger-Turmeric Tea


  • Fresh ginger root: 1 inch, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Fresh turmeric root: 1/2 inch, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Water: 2 cups
  • Black pepper: a pinch
  • Lemon or honey (optional): to taste


  1. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add ginger, turmeric, and black pepper to the water.
  3. Simmer for 10 minutes on low heat.
  4. Strain the tea into a cup.
  5. Add lemon or honey if desired.

Ginger-Mint Tea


  • Fresh ginger root: 1 inch, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Fresh mint leaves: 10-12
  • Water: 2 cups
  • Honey or lemon (optional): to taste


  1. Boil the water in a saucepan.
  2. Add ginger and mint leaves to the boiling water.
  3. Simmer for 10 minutes on low heat.
  4. Strain the tea into a cup.
  5. Add honey or lemon if desired.

Safety And Side Effects

Ginger is pretty much like that trustworthy friend you can count on. You can add it to your meals without too much fuss.

Sometimes, dried ginger can stir up a little trouble, like gas, bloating, or even heartburn. But don't worry. These symptoms are rare and don't stick around for long.

If you're a mom-to-be and you've heard that ginger eases morning sickness, that's true! [18] But before you dive into ginger supplements, it's always better to consult your doctor.


From boosting your mood by affecting your brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine to protecting your brain cells from oxidative damage, ginger has your back.

It has brain-boosting power, making your brain sharper and potentially slowing down the progression of conditions like Alzheimer’s.

Ginger is not just a spice; it is a bundle of benefits waiting to make your body and mind feel good.

Additional Readings

You May Also Like

Peppermint: A Refreshing Herb With Cognitive Boosting Potential

Rosemary; The Amazing Herb For Memory, Focus, And Vitality

The Power of Petals: Hibiscus (Sour Tea)


[1]The Amazing and Mighty Ginger - Herbal Medicine - NCBI Bookshelf (

[2]Frontiers | Ginger from Farmyard to Town: Nutritional and Pharmacological Applications (

[3]Antioxidant properties of gingerol related compounds from ginger - PubMed (

[4]Neuroimmune mechanisms of depression - PMC (

[5]Anti-neuroinflammatory capacity of fresh ginger is attributed mainly to 10-gingerol - PubMed (

[6]6-Shogaol, a ginger product, modulates neuroinflammation: a new approach to neuroprotection - PubMed (

[7]Physiological and therapeutical roles of ginger and turmeric on endocrine functions - PubMed (

[8]Curcumin: the Indian solid gold - PubMed (

[9]Turmeric, the Golden Spice - Herbal Medicine - NCBI Bookshelf (

[10]Neuroprotective evaluation of extract of ginger (Zingiber officinale) root in monosodium glutamate-induced toxicity in different brain areas male albino rats - PubMed (

[11]Free Radicals: Properties, Sources, Targets, and Their Implication in Various Diseases - PMC (

[12]Zingiber officinale Mitigates Brain Damage and Improves Memory Impairment in Focal Cerebral Ischemic Rat - PMC (

[13]6-Shogaol, an active compound of ginger, protects dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson's disease models via anti-neuroinflammation | Acta Pharmacologica Sinica (

[14]Muscarinic, Ca(++) antagonist and specific butyrylcholinesterase inhibitory activity of dried ginger extract might explain its use in dementia - PubMed (

[15]Zingiber officinale Improves Cognitive Function of the Middle-Aged Healthy Women - PMC (

[16]Ginger components as new leads for the design and development of novel multi-targeted anti-Alzheimer’s drugs: a computational investigation - PMC (

[17]Comparison between the efficacy of ginger and sumatriptan in the ablative treatment of the common migraine - PubMed (

[18]Effects of ginger capsules on pregnancy, nausea, and vomiting - PubMed (

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