by Jonathan Galland
Aromatic ginger is a superstar of traditional Asian medicine. This spice has been treasured for thousands of years for its amazing flavor and impressive health benefits. Now ginger is the subject of research being done around the world for its ability to help prevent and combat disease.
Numerous studies indicate that ginger may be helpful for arthritis, digestive disorders, nausea, and migraine headaches. Ginger contains dozens of the most potent inflammation fighting substances known, phytonutrients called gingerols. The ability for a food to help reduce inflammation is important, because inflammation contributes to many chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Ginger is used almost daily in Japanese cuisine, where it gives dishes a touch of spiciness. Ginger comes from a root or rhizome that is like a carrot with multiple stems. Ginger is available as a dried spice, or fresh in the grocery store, to be used sliced and grated. Look for fresh ginger that is firm to the touch and not wilted, dried out or moldy. Choose fresh ginger that is organically grown in the U.S.
To use fresh ginger, remove the dark peel and cut a section of the light colored root. Finely chop the ginger and it is ready to use in recipes for cooked dishes. Fresh ginger tea can be made by adding finely chopped ginger to boiled water, letting it steep for 2-3 minutes, then strain out the ginger.
Interesting Research Abstracts on Ginger:
J Med Food. 2005 Summer;8(2):125-32. Ginger–an herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions.
Grzanna R, Lindmark L, Frondoza CG. RMG Biosciences, Inc.
The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger have been known and valued for centuries. During the past 25 years, many laboratories have provided scientific support for the long-held belief that ginger contains constituents with antiinflammatory properties. The original discovery of ginger’s inhibitory effects on prostaglandin biosynthesis in the early 1970s has been repeatedly confirmed. This discovery identified ginger as an herbal medicinal product that shares pharmacological properties with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Ginger suppresses prostaglandin synthesis through inhibition of cyclooxygenase-1 and cyclooxygenase-2. An important extension of this early work was the observation that 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 non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The characterization of the pharmacological properties of ginger entered a new phase with the discovery that a ginger extract (EV.EXT.77) derived from Zingiber officinale (family Zingiberaceae) and Alpina galanga (family Zingiberaceae) inhibits the induction of several genes involved in the inflammatory response. These include genes encoding cytokines, chemokines, and the inducible enzyme cyclooxygenase-2. This discovery provided the first evidence that ginger modulates biochemical pathways activated in chronic inflammation. Identification of the molecular targets of individual ginger constituents provides an opportunity to optimize and standardize ginger products with respect to their effects on specific biomarkers of inflammation. Such preparations will be useful for studies in experimental animals and humans.
Int J Cardiol. 2009 Jan 24;131(3):408-9. Epub 2007 Nov 26. Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe): a hot remedy for cardiovascular disease?
Nicoll R, Henein MY.
Ginger is now exciting considerable interest for its potential to treat many aspects of cardiovascular disease. This letter reviews the more recent trials, which suggest that ginger shows considerable anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-platelet, hypotensive and hypolipidemic effect in in vitro and animal studies. Human trials have been few and generally used a low dose with inconclusive results, however dosages of 5 g or more demonstrated significant anti-platelet activity. More human trials are needed using an appropriate dosage of a standardised extract. Should these prove positive, ginger has the potential to offer not only a cheaper natural alternative to conventional agents but one with significantly lower side effects.
J Med Food. 2010 Feb;13(1):156-62. Anti-inflammatory properties of red ginger (Zingiber officinale var. Rubra) extract and suppression of nitric oxide production by its constituents.
Shimoda H, Shan SJ, Tanaka J, Seki A, Seo JW, Kasajima N, Tamura S, Ke Y, Murakami N.
Research and Development Division, Oryza Oil & Fat Chemical Co., Ltd., Ichinomiya, Aichi, Japan. firstname.lastname@example.org
Red ginger (Zingiber officinale var. Rubra) has been prescribed as an analgesic for arthritis pain in Indonesian traditional medicine. The surface color of the rhizome is purple because of the anthocyanidins in its peel. We prepared 40% ethanolic extract from dried red ginger (red ginger extract [RGE]) and evaluated its anti-inflammatory activity using acute and chronic inflammation models. In an acetic acid-induced mouse writhing model, RGE (10-100 mg/kg) suppressed both the frequency of writhing and the increase in permeability of abdominal capillaries. On the other hand, continuous treatment with RGE (10 mg/kg) significantly (P < .05) suppressed footpad edema in a rat adjuvant arthritis model. To clarify the anti-inflammatory mechanism of RGE, we examined the effect on prostaglandin (PG) and nitric oxide (NO) production from mouse leukemic monocytes (RAW264 cells) stimulated by lipopolysaccharide. RGE (3 and 10 microg/mL) significantly (P < .05) suppressed PGE(2) production, while it also suppressed NO production at 100 microg/mL. After bioassay-guided separation of RGE, we found that -shogaol and gingerdiols suppressed NO production. Red dye fractions presumed to be proanthocyanidins also suppressed NO production at 100 microg/mL. Consequently, we found a potent suppressive effect of RGE on acute and chronic inflammation, and inhibition of macrophage activation seems to be involved in this anti-inflammatory effect. -Shogaol, gingerdiols, and proanthocyanidins were identified as constituents that inhibited NO production.