Many Muay Thai boxers swear by black ginger, aka Krachai Dum for an extra source of energy and as a key ingredient to their victory.
Also, traditional Thai medicine claims that black ginger can greatly boost your overall performance, health and longevity.
But what does the research say?
In this article, we’ll find out whether black ginger is truly a health wonder or just a myth.
What is Black Ginger?
Black ginger (Kaempferia parviflora) is an herb belonging to the plant family Zingiberaceae (the Ginger family). It’s native to Thailand and is also known as Thai ginseng, black ginger, and Krachai Dum or Krachai Dam.
Black ginger looks almost the same as the ordinary ginger. The only difference is that the inner portions of black ginger are purple in color.
Black ginger is also commonly confused with black turmeric (Curcuma caesia) because they look alike. The inner parts of black turmeric, however, are bluish in color.
(Please take note that the term Krachai Dum actually translates to Black Galingale, not Black Ginger. However, the terms Black Galingale and Black Ginger still refer to the same plant.)
Health Benefits of Black Ginger
Black ginger root is quite popular in traditional Thai medicine. It’s commonly used as an energy enhancer and a regenerative agent.
Black ginger extracted in alcohol, however, is more commonly used to enhance libido and sexual performance. It’s even claimed to be a natural viagra substitute because of its reported potency.
Like we mentioned previously, it is also a popular supplement in Muay Thai circles as it gives fighters additional stamina and muscle strength.
But, what does the scientific research say?
Black Ginger and Sexual Performance
Black ginger extract is basically described as a natural Viagra minus the side effects. If you’re male and you’re reading this right now, you're probably getting eager to try it. The good news is, research has already proven the effectiveness of black ginger on sexual performance.
Studies have revealed that black ginger extract is a natural phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor. A PDE5 inhibitor, such as Viagra, blocks cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), an enzyme that breaks down nitric oxide in the body.
Nitric oxide is very important in the penis because it promotes vasodilation—the relaxing of the blood vessels. This increases blood supply particularly in the penis’ erectile chambers, ensuring longer lasting and harder erections.
The aphrodisiac property of black ginger extract has also been proven by research. A 2008 study confirmed that it increases aphrodisiac activity by increasing the blood flow to the testes1.
Black ginger extract has also been verified to increase the levels of dopamine in the body. Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters responsible for libido and pleasure (the other being serotonin).
Black Ginger and Energy Consumption
Black ginger extract has also been proven to increase the body’s rate of energy consumption (metabolism), which is beneficial for fat loss. Studies show at least two ways on how it enhances energy consumption.
A 2014 research confirms that black ginger extract increases energy consumption by activating BAT (brown adipose tissue)2. BAT, also known as brown fat, contains a lot of mitochondria, which are the powerhouse of the cell. Brown fat is responsible for converting energy from food to heat, and then distributing the resulting energy to different parts of the body.
A more recent study has revealed that black ginger extract helps increase energy consumption3 by improving glucose, lactic acid, and lipid metabolism. The breaking down of glucose, lactic acid, and lipids (or fats) contribute to the increase in the production of energy necessary for the body to function.
Keep in mind that a good metabolic rate is one of the main characteristics of a healthy person. If your metabolic rate is high, you’re less likely to develop conditions such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, locomotive dysfunction, obesity, and diabetes.
Black Ginger and Physical Fitness
The effects of black ginger extract on energy consumption eventually contribute to increased physical fitness performance4. Increased energy consumption, like what we’ve previously mentioned, makes it easier for your body to perform everyday activities.
Aside from increased energy, black ginger extract was also confirmed to improve endurance. A 2011 study shows that the extract inhibits inflammation5, thus enhancing muscular endurance and rate of muscular activity.
Any Side Effects from Black Ginger?
Through a comprehensive review of clinical studies6, it has been proven that black ginger extract does not cause side effects even at doses as high as 1.35 grams daily. This is partly because the extract inhibits the cGMP enzyme to a milder degree, making it a safer choice for enhancing sexual performance.
The consumption of black ginger extract eliminates the possibility of experiencing the numerous side effects from using artificial PDE5 inhibitors such as Viagra. These side effects happen because the medicines react very strongly to the cGMP enzyme. The side effects of artificial PDE5 inhibitors include heart burn, back pain, dizziness, dyspepsia, flushing, headache, nasal congestion, and vision disturbances.
Black ginger extract is truly a health wonder. Numerous studies have already proven its positive effects on sexual performance, energy consumption, and physical fitness. Also, black ginger has no recorded side effects, making it very much safe for consumption.
If you’re trying to improve your sexual health, black ginger extract may be your best shot. Traditionally black ginger is often combined with another pro-sexual herb called Butea Superba, which is also worthwhile looking into.
Just remember that combining black ginger with Viagra or other artificial PDE5 inhibitors is not recommended. This is because black ginger, though great for your health, can also greatly increase the side effects of the said medications.
No matter how safe black ginger may seem, however, you’ll have to follow the usual guidelines in supplement intake. If you’re taking medications for a serious condition, it would be best to consult your physician before taking the extract. Likewise, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it would be wise to postpone your plans for supplementation, at least for now.
- Effects of Kaempferia parviflora extracts on reproductive parameters and spermatic blood flow in male rats
- Kaempferia parviflora extract increases energy consumption through activation of BAT in mice.
- Enhancement of energy production by black ginger extract containing polymethoxy flavonoids in myocytes through improving glucose, lactic acid and lipid metabolism.
- Black ginger extract increases physical fitness performance and muscular endurance by improving inflammation and energy metabolism
- Suppressive effects of methoxyflavonoids isolated from Kaempferia parviflora on inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression in RAW 264.7 cells.
- Clinical Effects of Krachaidum (Kaempferia parviflora): A Systematic Review