Ginger isn’t just a spice! In addition to ginger’s already-known health-boosting properties such as reducing motion sickness and nausea, having a soothing effect on the digestive tract and being a common remedy for colds, ginger can also help to support memory and cognitive function in middle-aged women.
Recent studies on how nature’s foods and natural medicines found in plants can help to improve memory and boost cognitive ability found herbs such as ginger to be a potentiating agent for cognitive functions.
Due to the increase in the middle-aged population, an abundance of research has focused on the development of cognitive enhancers from medicinal plants reputed for anti-oxidant and cognitive enhancing effects. According to Arabian folklore, ginger has been claimed to improve memory. Moreover, it has also been traditionally used as an ingredient for cognitive enhancement.
Researchers considered 60 healthy women who received either a placebo or a ginger standardised extract of 400 milligramme or 800 milligramme daily for two months. The women were between 50 and 60 of age and reside in Thailand.
The women’s cognitive function and memory at the beginning of the study and again after one and two months of supplementation was assessed.
In the study, published in 2012 issue of the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the subjects receiving the ginger supplement reported a significant improvement in cognitive functions and an enhanced working memory compared to the placebo group.
This was after they excluded other conditions that could produce the disturbance of cognitive function such as any history of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, neuropsychological disease, head injury, diabetes, cancer, alcohol addiction, and anyone who smoked more than 10 cigarettes per day.
Individuals taking prescribed, non-prescribed drugs, or nutraceutical compounds known to influence the function of the nervous system were excluded.
They found that daily ginger intake, especially at higher amount, led to improvements in four key brain functions: power of attention, accuracy of attention, speed of memory, and quality of memory.
The researchers concluded that, “ginger extract enhances both attention and cognitive processing capabilities of healthy, middle-aged women, with no side effects reported. Our data revealed that ginger extract is a potential brain tonic to enhance cognitive function for middle-aged women.”
Although more research is needed to fully comprehend the mechanism behind this effect, the researchers suggested that the cognitive enhancing effect of this plant extract on working memory observed in this study might be partly related to its antioxidant effect.
However, the researchers stated that the precise underlying mechanism and possible active ingredient responsible for the cognitive enhancing effect of ginger still require further investigation.
Although the side effect of ginger extract is rare, they hinted of the possibility of some minor adverse effects at higher doses such as gastro-intestinal disturbance, sleepiness, restlessness, sedation, and heartburn.
Moreover, the researchers stated that the use of ginger in enhancing memory and improve cognitive function should be performed with caution because of the possibility of the extract also possibly interacting with medications.
These medications include anaesthesia, anticoagulants, and analgesics leading to arrhythmias, poor wound healing, bleeding, photosensitivity reaction, and prolonged sedation.
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