Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Traditional Indications 

Peripheral circulatory stimulant, carminative, anti-flatulent, antitussive, antiemetic, rubefacient, diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic, adjuvant, sialagogue, expectorant and antiseptic. It is indicated for poor circulation, chilblains and cramp and nausea. In feverish conditions, Zingiber's diaphoretic action promotes perspiration. As a carminative it promotes gastric secretion and is used in the treatment of dyspepsia, flatulence and colic. It is also a useful remedy in diarrhoea where there is no inflammation or due to spleen Qi deficiency. It is stimulant to the gastrointestinal tract, increasing peristalsis and the tone of the intestinal muscle. As an anti-emetic it can be used in cases morning sickness. It is also said to be useful for suppressed menstruation. As a warming digestive tonic, ginger will increase hydrochloric acid and improve iron absorption. (1)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine Ginger is known as 生薑 Sheng Jiang. Sheng Jiang (fresh ginger) is said to be pungent and warm and to enter the Lung, Spleen and Stomach channels. It is said to release the exterior and disperse Cold in middle Jiao and is indicated for vomiting. It is also said to disperse Cold Phlegm in Lungs and is indicated for chronic and acute cough. Ginger reduces toxicity of other herbs or treating overdoses and adjusts Ying and Wei Qi for sweating without improvement. (2)

Pharmacognosy

Ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. Ginger is a highly efficient anti-inflammatory found to be more effective than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Ginger suppresses prostaglandin synthesis through inhibition of cyclooxygenase-1 and cyclooxygenase-2. Ginger also suppresses leukotriene biosynthesis by inhibiting 5-lipoxygenase. This pharmacological property distinguishes ginger from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This discovery preceded the observation that dual inhibitors of cyclooxygenase and 5-lipoxygenase may have a better therapeutic profile and have fewer side effects than NSAIDs. (3)

The Lancet oncology has documented the value of ginger as a potential anti-cancer therapeutic agent. (4)

A review on ginger finds the anticancer potential of active constituents gingerols, shogaol, and paradols in ginger is well documented and are the valuable ingredients which can prevent various cancers. This review concludes to favour ginger but some ambiguities necessitate further research before claiming its efficacy. (5)

Zerumbone, a natural monocyclic sesquiterpene derived from ginger induced antiproliferative and apoptotic effects against PC-3 and DU-145, two human hormone-refractory prostate cancer (HRPC) cell lines. (6)

An active constituent found in ginger, 6-shogaol induces autophagic cell death then triggered apoptosis in colorectal adenocarcinoma HT-29 cells. (7)

The anticancer activity of ginger is attributed to its ability to modulate several signaling molecules like NF-κB, STAT3, MAPK, PI3K, ERK1/2, Akt, TNF-α, COX-2, cyclin D1, cdk, MMP-9, survivin, cIAP-1, XIAP, Bcl-2, caspases, and other cell growth regulatory proteins. (8)

A meta-analysis concluded that based on the negligible side effects and obvious ameliorative effects on glucose control, insulin sensitivity, and lipid profile, ginger may be a promising adjuvant therapy for Type 2 Diabetes Miletus and Metabolic Syndrome. (9)
Ginger is well known as an effective antiemetic to treat nausea due to multiple factors including pregnancy, chemotherapy and motion sickness. (3)

 

1. PFAF. Zingiber officinale. 2019.
2. Lotus S. Sheng Jiang (Fresh Ginger Rhizome). 2019.
3. Lete I, Allué J. The Effectiveness of Ginger in the Prevention of Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy and Chemotherapy. Integrative medicine insights. 2016;11:11-7.
4. Krell J, Stebbing J. Ginger: the root of cancer therapy? The Lancet Oncology. 2012;13(3):235-6.
5. Mashhadi NS, Ghiasvand R, Askari G, Hariri M, Darvishi L, Mofid MR. Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: review of current evidence. International journal of preventive medicine. 2013;4(Suppl 1):S36-S42.
6. Chan M-L, Liang J-W, Hsu L-C, Chang W-L, Lee S-S, Guh J-HJN-SsAoP. Zerumbone, a ginger sesquiterpene, induces apoptosis and autophagy in human hormone-refractory prostate cancers through tubulin binding and crosstalk between endoplasmic reticulum stress and mitochondrial insult. 2015;388(11):1223-36.
7. Li T-Y, Chiang B-H. 6-shogaol induces autophagic cell death then triggered apoptosis in colorectal adenocarcinoma HT-29 cells. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 2017;93:208-17.
8. Prasad S, Tyagi AK. Ginger and its constituents: role in prevention and treatment of gastrointestinal cancer. Gastroenterology research and practice. 2015;2015:142979-.
9. Zhu J, Chen H, Song Z, Wang X, Sun Z. Effects of Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) on Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Components of the Metabolic Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM. 2018;2018:5692962-.