Black Ginger Extract and Its Exciting Benefits

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Originally published on July 18, 2020; Updated and republished on December 6, 2022.

Black ginger extract has been used for more than a thousand years. Current scientific research shows that this interesting ingredient may be beneficial for many conditions. 

Keep reading to learn more about what black ginger is, and how black ginger extract may be beneficial for many health conditions.

Fresh black ginger with cut pieces to show the purple black flesh for blog post titled "Black ginger extract and its exciting benefits" for Single Ingredient Groceries.
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What is Black Ginger?

Black ginger is a food ingredient that is known for its powerful nutrition components and health benefits. 

Black ginger is also known as:

  • Black Turmeric
  • Krachai Dum
  • Thai Black Ginger
  • Thai Ginseng

The botanical name for black ginger is Kaempferia parviflora.

Black ginger is indigenous to Thailand. It is a member of the Zingiberaceae or Ginger food family

Other foods in the ginger food family include cardamom, common ginger, galangal, and turmeric.

The Kaempferia parviflora (KP) rhizome has been used in Thai traditional medicine for more than one thousand years. Black ginger is being studied for allergies, diabetes, diarrhea, impotence, and more.

Compared to traditional ginger, the flesh of black ginger is darker in color. The two gingers look the same on the outside, but black ginger boasts a deep purple color on the inside.

What is Black Ginger Extract?

The dried rhizome of the black ginger plant is traditionally crushed and put into tea bags. The fresh rhizome has also been used in wine brewing. The wine is made into a tonic and is regarded as an aphrodisiac.

Black ginger supplements are also prepared with honey and made into medicinal liquors, pills, capsules, and tablets. Black ginger extract can be purchased in powdered form, a liquid form, and encapsulated. Powdered Black Ginger is sold as a food ingredient

Black Ginger Extract is sometimes referred to as Kaempferia parviflora extract or KPE.  It contains polymethoxyflavones (PMFs) and is rich in amino acids, antioxidants, selenium, tannins, anthocyanins, and flavonoids. 

Black Ginger Supplements 

Black ginger extract is more readily available as a dietary supplement than as a food ingredient. 

Though traditional ginger supplements are more widely available, you can order black ginger extract on Amazon or directly from an online supplement store.

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Black Ginger Benefits

Black Ginger has traditionally been used for many conditions and is being studied to identify additional uses. 

Adaptogenic

In herbal medicine, adaptogens are substances that help the body adapt to stress. Black ginger extract has been studied for adaptogenic properties. A study using mice found that black ginger had a similar effect as ginseng root powder. The study did not provide recommendations for human use.

Allergies

Black ginger is used in Thai traditional medicine to treat asthma. In a 2008 study, methoxyflavone derivatives from the plant were found to have anti-allergic activity. A 2007 study also supported the use of black ginger in the treatment of allergies and related conditions. 

Antioxidant

Kaempferia parviflora has been shown to have high antioxidant activity. Researchers believe this plant may be a source of natural oxidants. Antioxidants scavenge for free radicals and may reduce oxidative stress related to diabetes or other conditions.

Anti-Inflammatory

An in vitro study has shown that specific polymethoxyflavones from Kaempferia parviflora have anti-inflammatory effects on cells. 

Another cellular study indicated that KP suppressed inflammation at the genetic expression level and at protein production. This study was focused on inflammation related to psoriasis. 

While other studies indicate that black ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, it is important to note that these studies were done on cells (in vitro) and not on human subjects. 

Anti-Microbial and Anti-Inflammatory 

Acne is caused by bacteria strains, including Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus aureus. A 2018 study showed that KPE inhibited the growth of skin bacteria and reduced inflammation. 

In 2019, researchers studied KPE as a potential treatment for Plasmodium and Toxoplasma infections. This in vitro study showed that the black ginger extract had an effect on these parasitic organisms. 

Arthritis & Chronic Pain

Researchers in Japan observed that KPE has anti-inflammatory effects but had not been studied with osteoarthritis. They used KPE to study osteoarthritis in rats. 

The study found that black ginger extract reduced the pain threshold and reduced severity of osteoarthritic cartilage lesions. They found that methoxy flavones reduced the enzymes that degrade collagen within cartilage. 

Cancer  

Recent reports have indicated that Kaempferia parviflora has anti-cancer effects. In 2018 researchers studied the effects of Kaempferia parviflora extract on aggressive cervical cancer cells. The study found that KPE was cytotoxic at higher concentrations. KPE use was also associated with decreased cell proliferation, migration, and invasion. 

This is consistent with a 2017 study in which KPE was found to suppress the migration of cervical cancer cells.

A 2021 study indicated that Kaempferia parviflora exhibited anti-cancer activity against pancreatic cancer cells. In this in vitro study, KPE inhibited cancer cell colony formation. It also demonstrated cytotoxic activity towards cancer cells.  

KPE is being studied on other cancer cells as well and it is being considered for future studies as a cancer treatment. No recent human studies on cancer and black ginger were identified. 

Gastrointestinal

Black ginger is used in Thai traditional medicine to treat gastrointestinal conditions such as diarrhea, dysentery, and peptic ulcers. Kaempferia parviflora extract (KPE) has been studied in rats and was found to protect the stomach lining

Heart Health

Black Ginger Extract may be beneficial for heart health as well. In addition to being used in Thai traditional medicine for the treatment of hypertension and as a diuretic, it is being studied to understand its effects on other aspects of heart health.

A 2014 study on middle aged rats showed that KPE improved vascular function, decreased subcutaneous and visceral fat, fasting blood sugar, triglyceride level, and fat storage in the liver. There were no negative effects observed in total blood count, kidney function, or liver function. 

Other research indicates KPE may be beneficial in treating heart disease due to its effectiveness as a vasodilator and as an antioxidant. 

Physical Performance 

If you are an athlete or interested in fitness, black ginger extract might be interesting to you.

In a 2016 study on black ginger, Kaempferia parviflora extract (KPE) was administered orally to 15 male mice for one month. Physical performance efficacy, muscle endurance, and grip strength increased in these mice. The study explained that KPE contains polymethoxyflavones (PMFs) that activate a significant contributor to cell metabolism called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK).

AMPK may also enhance fat metabolism, muscle endurance, and physical performance. 

In a 12-week randomized control study on young athletes, KPE capsules were given daily, showing significant improvements in right-hand grip strength compared to the placebo-controlled group.

Black ginger extract may improve physical fitness performance and muscular endurance by improving inflammation and energy metabolism

It may also help to improve fitness in the elderly

Mental and Emotional Wellbeing

In addition to influencing physical health, the methoxyflavones in black ginger may also support choline and acetylcholine in the brain. This is thought to promote mental and emotional wellbeing.

Further, it may improve learning and memory

Metabolism, Energy Expenditure and Weight Management

Imagine burning more calories after taking a single dose of KPE.

That’s what happened in a 2015 study that concluded KPE increases the activation of brown adipose tissue. Brown adipose tissue plays a crucial role in energy expenditure (source). These results are similar to the findings of a 2014 study on KPE’s effect on brown adipose tissue in mice.

Studies like these show black gingers’ potential benefit for weight loss and weight management.

Sexual Health 

Black ginger is a famous Thai product and has been used since ancient times for erectile dysfunction. It has also been used to boost libido in both men and women.  

The science behind black ginger’s use in the bedroom is its inhibitory effect on Phosphodiesterase5 (PDE5). Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis are also PDE inhibitors or pde5 inhibitors. 

Black ginger has been called a natural Viagra and is used as a natural PDE inhibitor to address erectile dysfunction. 

KPE promotes the production of nitric oxide (NO) which promotes vascular function. Nitric oxide (NO) plays an important role as a neurotransmitter and supports blood flow, and muscle function needed for erections.   

In a 2018 pilot study, Kaempferia parviflora ethanol extract was given to 14 older adult men with erectile dysfunction for 30 days. In a self-reported questionnaire, 13 of the men reported results that proved statistically significant in erectile function improvements and increased sex satisfaction.

This is consistent with a 2012 study that indicated KPE improved erections in healthy elderly men. Notably, testosterone levels were unchanged in this study. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Dosage Should I Take?

Many of the above mentioned studies were done on cells or animals in order to learn more about how black ginger extract works. These studies did not provide dosing recommendations.

The 2012 study on healthy elderly men found best results with 90 mg of ethanolic KPE. The study was an eight week study and did not provide recommendations for long term use.

Popular black ginger extracts are sold in 100 mg doses. Higher or lower doses may be more appropriate depending on the reason for taking it. 

Can I be Allergic to Black Ginger?

Black ginger allergy is not common but has been reported.

What are Black Ginger Side Effects?

Most published studies indicate that black ginger extract is well tolerated. However, any supplement has the potential to cause adverse effects. 

Some people report upset stomach and other GI symptoms after taking black ginger extract. 

Also, it is important to know that Viagra was originally developed to treat heart conditions. It was then found to have a side effect of promoting erections. Similarly, people who take black ginger extract for heart health, performance, or other conditions may experience unintended changes in their sexual health. 

What is Kaempferol?

Kaempferol is a flavonoid found in many foods including galangal, a cousin of black ginger (also known as Kaempferia parviflora). It is named after a German naturalist, Engelbert Kaempfer.

Upon investigation, we could not find any documentation regarding the presence of Kemperfol in black ginger. This compound is thought to be found in many traditional medicines. 

Bottom Line

Black ginger extract shows potential to promote health and quality of life. 

It is important to inform your healthcare provider of all supplements, herbs, natural products, and medications that you are taking. 

Working with a healthcare professional who is familiar with this product is recommended. 

Authors

  • Lisa Hugh DHA MSHS RD LDN CLT

    Dr. Lisa Hugh is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Leap Therapist. She is a Doctor of Healthcare Administration and has a Master's of Science in Healthcare Administration. As a Food Sensitivity Expert, her passion is helping people with complex medical and nutrition needs find food and groceries that are safe and enjoyable. Lisa enjoys helping clients in her private practice.

  • Gabrielle McPherson MS RDN LDN

    Gabrielle McPherson is a Registered Dietitian and Freelance Writer. Gabrielle has a masters degree in Clinical Nutrition and a bachelors degree in Dietetics. She has worked extensively with pediatrics and works as a freelance health and nutrition writer.

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20 thoughts on “Black Ginger Extract and Its Exciting Benefits”

  1. I read somewhere that black ginger is good or/helpful for kidneys and blood flw. I have high blood pressure and kidneys play up sometimes. Will black ginger be beneficial to me? Have also read some people calling black tumeric to be black ginger … are they the same thing?

    Reply
    • Hi Alex, Anytime a person has kidney issues, it is definitely best to see your nephrologist and a Registered Dietitian before taking any supplements. They would have to know all of your medications and labs to give you safe recommendations. I am not familiar with black tumeric…maybe that will be a future blog post!

      Reply
  2. I purchased 500 mg capsules from EBay and also ordered the root and I’m currently growing it also purchased powdered version. Very pretty plant and capsules are ok size to swallow. I have Polycythemia Vera and has had no affect or benefit also no benefit for ED. Powder taste ok with fruit smoothies but again zero benefit, endurance is unchanged.

    Reply
  3. Hi there. I was wondering if you knew of a safe place to order black ginger from. I’ve been looking everywhere for it with no luck. Can you please recomend me a reliable source?
    Much appreciated
    Laszlo

    Reply
    • Hi Kelsey. I have not been able to find any definitive reference about this. Since we don’t have proof that it is safe, it is best to assume it is not. If you find a good reference on this, I’d definitely be interested in learning more. Thank you for this great question!

      Reply

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