By Alex Eriksson, Founder of Anabolic Health
Black ginger, also known as Kaempferia parviflora or Thai Ginseng, is used as an energy enhancer, longevity agent, aphrodisiac and male sexual tonic — at least in traditional Thai medicine. It’s even used by Muay Thai fighters to increase their endurance, strength and vigor.
Researchers are looking to confirm if these claims are actually true. And, from these studies, it seems that they’ve found something that really piqued their interest. So what’s so special about black ginger that captured the attention of modern medical research and the health supplement industry?
A Natural Viagra Substitute
Viagra, or sildenafil, inhibits that enzyme known as PDE5 from breaking down a molecular messenger called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). When PDE5 is inhibited, the body experiences prolonged vasodilation, which translates to a longer-lasting and harder erection.
A natural PDE5 inhibitor is also present in black ginger extract. However, unlike pharmaceutical PDE5 inhibitors, those found in black ginger do not have such side effects as back pain, dizziness, dyspepsia, flushing or vision disturbance. This lack of serious side effects is due to black ginger extract being somewhat less powerful than pharmaceutical Viagra. And, because of this, it’s more of a supplement that should be taken long-term to see significant improvements.
More Than a PDE5 Inhibitor
Aside from having the power to prolong erections, it can help maintain a healthy sex drive for both men and women.
Black ginger extract enhances the dopaminergic functions of the hypothalamus, which makes the brain more sensitive to sexual stimuli. As a result, an individual can get sexually aroused easier than usually. This makes black ginger especially beneficial for those with sexual dysfunctions arising from psychological conditions.
According to research, consumption of the root for two to three months can significantly increase sexual function and response. And that’s without any help from conventional medications, such as Viagra, that require careful dosing and planning before sex.
Increases Energy Expenditure
Black ginger stimulates the skeletal muscles, resulting in the activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). This leads to increased energy expenditure within the muscles.
Additionally, black ginger activates brown adipose (fat) tissue, so this increased energy expenditure is provided with the most viable internal energy source. As a result, there’s a significant increase in the body’s metabolic rate, meaning greater energy production, faster recovery, increased stress tolerance, improved sleep quality and faster healing. In terms of sex quality, this means having enough stamina for the most physically demanding aspects of the activity.
In the context of health, on the other hand, this translates to improved chances of preventing diabetes and obesity. This is due to the body consuming more calories and, thus, increasing the probability that any of those extra dietary calories will be burned.
In general, black ginger boosts metabolism while also improving physical endurance and performance. No wonder this traditional herb is used in Muay Thai boxing to help fighters achieve their target weight.
Other Interesting Benefits
Due to black ginger being used in Thai traditional medicine to cure such ailments as allergies, asthma, gout, diarrhea and peptic ulcers, researchers have decided to look beyond its benefits on sexual function, fertility and metabolism. It turns out that black ginger possesses a wide range of pharmacological effects:
- It can decrease oxidative damage. According to a study conducted for 8 weeks, Kaempferia parviflora supplementation was able to decrease the oxidative stress that hindered physical fitness among the elderly.
- It improves Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). BPH, or prostate enlargement, is a non-cancerous growth of the prostate that can cause problems with urination and bladder control. Initial tests have confirmed that black ginger shows promise in treating this abnormal growth.
- It can treat NOX-associated diseases. Black ginger extract was proven to inhibit NOX or NADPH oxidase, from generating free-radicals. This means it can alleviate such diseases as rheumatoid arthritis, allergic rhinitis and inflammatory conditions in general.
- It may prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Black ginger contains polymethoxyflavones, which are promising therapeutic substances for the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. These substances are currently undergoing clinical trials. After this phase, tests will be conducted on patients from different countries to verify the effectiveness of the approach.
- It can fight certain types of human viruses. According to a study, black ginger extract contains protease inhibitors that were able to treat cultured samples of viruses including HIV type-1, Hepatitis C virus, and human cytomegalovirus.
- It decreases the risk of cancer. Initial studies have shown that K. parviflora can cause cancer cell death. This effect is attributed to the polyphenolic flavonoids it contains.
- It fights allergic reactions to certain stimuli. Black ginger can effectively fight off allergies since it contains methoxyflavone, tetramethoxyflavone and dimethoxyflavone. (However, do note that there’s such a thing as allergy to ginger.)
- It prevents osteoporosis. Kaempferia parviflora contains seven chemical compounds that prevent excessive breakdown of bone tissue. Keep in mind that an abnormal rate of bone degradation is essentially the cause of osteoporosis among those in their golden years.
- It activates the gene associated with longevity. Human aging is closely related to chronic minimal inflammation in the body, which is often left unnoticed and untreated. Black ginger activates the gene SIRT1, which inhibits this type of inflammation. There’s still a lack of follow-up studies on this finding but initial results confirm the potential of black ginger.
Side Effects to Keep in Mind
What’s great about black ginger is that it doesn’t cause the side effects associated with Viagra use. It doesn’t alter hormone levels, which makes it safe to take for those wanting to optimize their hormonal balance and for those who are undergoing testosterone replacement therapy. Also, it can be used by men who can’t take Viagra due to heart disease or high risk of stroke. However, black ginger shouldn’t be taken by those who have arrhythmia as it can increase their chances of heart rhythm irregularities.
Using Black Ginger as a Supplement
The standard recommended daily dose for black ginger is at least a 1,000mg. Before using it, make sure that you don’t have any health conditions that don’t play well with this supplement, and that you don’t take any medications that would interact with it. If you’re unsure, it’s best to consult your doctor before taking black ginger — regardless of how many folks in Thailand are currently enjoying its benefits.