Turmeric vs. Ginger: Similarities & Differences Explained

Turmeric and ginger are two herbs that are often compared due to their ability to support health. These two popular herbs are well known for their ability to reduce inflammation. …

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Written by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Turmeric and ginger are two herbs that are often compared due to their ability to support health.

These two popular herbs are well known for their ability to reduce inflammation. They are also used commonly as foods.

However, there are significant distinctions between these herbs that you should be aware of before making a selection

In this article, we’ll dig into the key differences between turmeric vs. ginger, as well as their similarities.

turmeric vs. ginger benefits of each herb

Ginger Overview & Uses:

Ginger is a spice native to Southeast Asia that has long been used in cooking. It’s one of the healthiest (and most flavorful) spices around.

Ginger belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, the same family as turmeric and cardamom.

Fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice, ginger is available in a variety of forms. It’s popular as both a supplement and an ingredient in a variety of foods.

Research shows that ginger may provide a variety of benefits, including helping to settle the stomach, reducing inflammation, and weight loss.

Below is a list of the benefits of ginger.

1. Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Research shows that gingerol, a constituent found in ginger, has the ability to reduce inflammation.

Gingerol is a natural oil that helps to give ginger its unique fragrance and flavor.

This phytochemical has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Gingerol is thought to help the body through a variety of different processes, including apoptosis, cell cycle regulation, cytotoxic activity, and inhibition of angiogenesis.

2. May Support Weight Loss

Clinical research indicates that ginger may play a role in weight loss.

A literature review noted that taking a ginger supplement helped to reduce body weight, waist-hip ratio, and hip ratio in overweight individuals.

Another clinical trial involving 80 overweight women found that ginger helped to reduce blood insulin levels and total body mass index. In this study, the participants received high doses of ginger (2 grams daily) over 3 months.

A study involving individuals with type II diabetes discovered that taking 1,600-4,000mg of ginger per day had a lasting improvement in blood glucose levels compared to the placebo. This improvement was noticed during follow-up sessions, implying that ginger may have the ability to support long-term blood sugar stabilization.

3. May Help With Nausea

Research indicates that ginger is highly effective against nausea.

A clinical trial found that ginger can help relieve nausea in people undergoing surgery.

Ginger is also useful when it comes to combatting pregnancy-related nausea (i.e. morning sickness).

A meta-analysis including over one thousand women found that 1-1.5 grams daily of ginger can significantly reduce nausea. However, it should be noted that this study showed that ginger consumption did not reduce vomiting.

turmeric vs. ginger: health benefits of ginger

Turmeric Overview & Uses:

Turmeric is a perennial that grows in the tropical region of southeastern Asia. 

Turmeric is part of the Zingiberaceae family of plants and its scientific name is Curcuma longa.

The part of this plant that’s used for medicine is the rhizome.

There are over 100 different types of turmeric that have been identified.

Modern research suggests that turmeric may help with joint health. It’s also been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and cardioprotective effects.

We’ll dig more into the benefits of turmeric below.

1. May Help With Arthritis

Traditional usage, as well as new research, suggests that turmeric may be beneficial for individuals who suffer from arthritis.

In a study involving individuals with knee osteoarthritis, researchers discovered that turmeric extract was able to reduce pain. The results showed that turmeric was as effective as ibuprofen in reducing pain. 

Another clinical trial involving individuals with knee osteoarthritis showed that curcumin, a phytochemical in turmeric, significantly improves physical function and reduces pain. It should be noted that although patients were permitted to use an anti-inflammatory drug throughout the trial, 84% of subjects taking curcumin stopped using the drug by the end of the study. 

2. May Balance Blood Sugar

Turmeric has shown promise in supporting individuals with elevated blood sugar levels.

A clinical trial found that turmeric supplements impact post-meal insulin levels. Insulin works to move sugar from your blood into your cells. The study reported that insulin levels rose after the administration of turmeric capsules, which led to a decrease in blood sugar levels.

A long-term trial observing pre-diabetic patients found that turmeric extract significantly reduced diabetes markers, including fasting blood glucose levels and average blood glucose levels after 3 months (known as A1C). No participants in the turmeric group were diagnosed with type II diabetes, whereas 16.4% of subjects in the placebo group were diagnosed.

3. May Support Heart Health

Turmeric has been associated with an increase in heart health in a number of studies.

A clinical trial looked at the impact of taking increasing doses of turmeric in individuals with acute coronary syndrome. The researchers found that lower levels of turmeric were effective in lowering LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and total cholesterol levels.

Another study involving healthy volunteers discovered that turmeric supplements have the ability to reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). The researchers mentioned a turmeric extract supplement may be effective for preventative heart disease therapy.

turmeric vs. ginger: the benefits of using turmeric

Turmeric vs. Ginger: Similarities

When it comes to comparing turmeric vs. ginger, there are many similarities between these two herbs.

First off, both of these plants are classified as being in the same Zingiberaceae (i.e. ginger) family of plants. Also, for both plants, the root portion is part that is used medicinally. Additionally, these herbs are native to the same region of the world (i.e. Asia). 

Secondly, it appears that both of these herbs may help to reduce inflammation.

Third, both ginger and turmeric may be helpful for stabilizing blood sugar levels and supporting weight loss.

Turmeric vs. Ginger: Differences

There are quite a few differences between ginger and turmeric.

Ginger has been traditionally used to settle the stomach and reduce nausea. However, new research shows that it can do so much more. It also has strong anti-inflammatory properties, which are helpful for those who are looking to reduce inflammation in the body.

Ginger also has a strong nutrient profile because it’s rich in:

  • vitamin B6
  • vitamin C
  • magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese
  • various phytochemicals and polyphenols (gingerols, etc…)

Turmeric on the other hand is primarily known as a strong anti-inflammatory herb. However, new research indicates that curcumin (and other curcuminoids) may not have as strong anti-inflammatory properties as previously thought. It appears that this is due to the poor bioavailability of curcumin.

Unlike ginger, turmeric has the ability to support heart health through cholesterol regulation.

Turmeric vs. Ginger: Which is right for you?

You can think of ginger as an anti-inflammatory herb with the ability to aid in blood sugar regulation.

If you’re looking to reduce inflammation and lose excess body weight, then ginger may be the right herb for you.

However, turmeric is an anti-inflammatory herb that seems to be most effective for chronic inflammatory disorders (i.e. arthritis). Turmeric also can help with heart health, especially LDL cholesterol levels.

If you’re looking to reduce inflammation while supporting your heart health, turmeric is a great option.

Can You Take Ginger and Turmeric Together?

Yes, you can take ginger and turmeric together. These herbs do not have any known negative interactions when taken together. In fact, they are in the same plant family and may have synergistic properties.

The herbal combination of ginger and turmeric may be good for reducing inflammation and supporting weight loss.

Potential Side Effects & Interactions:

Like anything else, herbs may have the ability to interact negatively with the human body.

Studies show that ginger is also generally well-tolerated and safe to consume.

Turmeric is also considered to be a safe herb. The FDA has granted it GRAS status.

Research has shown that turmeric (and curcumin) is safe and does not elicit toxic effects even in high doses (up to 8g per day). 

As with all herbal supplements, it’s best to run them by your personal doctor for feedback prior to ingesting a new supplement.

Conclusion:

As you can see, both of these herbs are typically well tolerated and safe to consume.

If you’re trying to decide between turmeric vs. ginger, consider taking a few weeks to experiment with each herb for yourself before making your final decision.

You might find that one works better than the other or vice versa! Or, try them together and see if you get a synergistic effect.

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About Daniel Powers, MS

Daniel has a master's degree in herbal science from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. He has a passion for herbal medicine and how it can be used to support everyday health & wellness.

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