Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is native to southern Asia and is now cultivated throughout the tropics. The "root" or knotted rhizome is commonly used around the world for culinary and medicinal purposes. Ginger is used in the treatment of numerous conditions ranging from heart problems to travel sickness.
Ginger is stated to possess carminative (relieves flatulence or gas), diaphoretic (produces perspiration) and antispasmodic properties.
Ginger has been used for colic, flatulence and flatulent dyspepsia (indigestion). This herb is also used for Motion Sickness.
High intakes of ginger (up to 10g daily) have given significant reduction in platelet aggregation (clotting) by inhibiting thromboxane (1) formation by 37%. Ginger reduces cholesterol levels (and inhibits new cholesterol biosynthesis) when taken long-term (2,3). The capsaicin and shogaol compounds in ginger have been found to lower blood pressure.
Certain of the active compounds found in ginger inhibit the production of certain prostaglandins and thromboxane synthesis making ginger an effective treatment for inflammatory and rheumatic conditions such as Arthritis (1,4).
Motion Sickness and Nausea:
Ginger may substantially reduce nausea. Intakes of ginger root (equivalent to 1000mg herb powder) have reduced the tendency to vomit and prevent symptoms such as vertigo, cold sweating and other gastrointestinal symptoms of Motion Sickness (5). The gingerols and shogaols are responsible for the anti-emetic effects (prevent Vomiting) (6). However, the mechanism for this action remains to be determined, but is thought to be derived from the influence of ginger on the digestive tract. Ginger may be a better alternative to other motion-sickness drugs for older people who may be extra sensitive to drowsiness or loss of balance.
Ginger stimulates the production of gastric secretions and high intakes have a profound effect of increasing saliva production (6). Ginger decreases intestinal wall irritation by keeping the intestinal muscles toned (7). Extracts of ginger significantly inhibit seratonin-induced Diarrhoea through its anticarthartic activity (prevents evacuation of the bowels). A number of anti-ulcer compounds have been isolated from ginger. As a result, extracts of ginger have been effectively used in the treatment of peptic Ulcers (8). Ginger may also protect the stomach from alcohol and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which have damaging effects (9).
Extracts of ginger have pronounced antioxidant activity. Certain of the compounds in ginger scavenge superoxide and hydroxyl radicals and inhibit lipid peroxidation (8).
Ginger extract significantly inhibits the growth of bacteria and is antifungal in its activity. The essential oils of ginger have antirhinoviral activity and ginger is frequently used as a treatment for the Common Cold.
Other Therapeutic Uses:
Ginger stimulates circulation and heat production (from metabolic reactions) and is described as a warming herb.
SAFETY AND PRECAUTIONS.
Side effects from ginger consumption are rare. Some may experience Heartburn. For people with a history of Gallstones, professional advice should be consulted before using ginger (10).
Foods containing ginger may be consumed during Pregnancy for relieving nausea and Vomiting. However, pregnant and lactating women should consult with a qualified health professional before taking ginger supplements.
Ginger is not recommended for use by children.
INTERACTIONS AND CONTRA-INDICATIONS
Excessive intakes of ginger may interfere with existing cardiac, anti-diabetic or anti-coagulant therapy.
Ginger may also reduce the absorption of anti-psychotic drugs.
1. Srivastava KC. Effect of onion and ginger consumption on platelet thromboxane production in humans. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids, 35:183-185, 1989.
2. Gujral S et al. Effect of ginger oleorosin on serum and hepatic cholesterol levels in cholesterol fed rats. Nutr Rep Int 1974; 17: 183-9.
3. Giri J et al. Effect of ginger on serum cholesterol levels. Indian J Nutr Dietet 1984; 21: 433-6.
4. Srivastava K et al. Ginger and rheumatic disorders. Med Hypoth, ,29:25-28, 1989.
5. Grontved A et al. Ginger root against seasickness. A controlled trial on the open sea. Acta Otolaryngol, 105:45-49, 1988.
6. "Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals", N Grainger Bissett ,Medpharm, 1994 .
7. Yamahara J, Huang Q, et al. Gastrointestinal motility enhancing effect of ginger and its active constituents. Chem Pharm Bull 1990;38:430-31.
8. British J Phytotherapy, 1997,4;3:110-120.
9. Al-Yahya MA, Rafatullah S, et al. Gastroprotective activity of ginger in albino rats. Am J Chinese Med 1989;17:51-56.
10. Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.