Health Benefits of Ginger

Ginger is the common name for Zingiber officinale, originally grown in China and now found all over the world. Ginger is a well known traditional herb with distinct and strong flavor. It is also used as an herbal remedy for various health problems in different parts of the world. It is known to positively increase the energy of your body by enhancing blood circulation and increasing metabolic rate. Scientific researchers have shown that ginger possesses numerous medicinal properties due to which it has been widely used all over the world. Some of the contributions of ginger towards man’s health are discussed:

Gastrointestinal Relief
A double blind study suggests that ginger helps in eliminating gastrointestinal symptoms. It is found to be very effective in preventing seasickness. In fact, in one study, ginger was shown to be far superior to Dramamine, a commonly used over-the-counter and prescription drug for motion sickness. Ginger helps in reducing all associated with motion sickness including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating.

Safe and Effective Relief of Nausea and Vomiting During Pregnancy
Ginger is an effective remedy in reducing the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, even the most severe form, hyperemesis gravidum, a condition which usually requires hospitalization. In a double-blind trial, ginger root brought significant results in reducing both the severity of nausea and number of attacks of vomiting in 19 of 27 women in early pregnancy (less than 20 weeks).
A review of six double-blind, randomized controlled trials with a total of 675 participants, published in the April 2005 issue of the journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology, has confirmed that ginger is effective in relieving the severity of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. The review also confirmed the absence of significant side effects or adverse effects on pregnancy outcomes.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Ginger consists of very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. In two clinical studies involving patients who responded to conventional drugs and those who didn't, physicians found that 75% of arthritis patients and 100% of patients with muscular discomfort experienced relief of pain and/or swelling. Regular use of fresh ginger in meals may help, suggests a study published in a recent issue of Osteoarthritis Cartilage.

A study published in the February 2005 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed ginger's anti-inflammatory effectiveness. In this research, ginger was shown to suppress the pro-inflammatory compounds (cytokines and chemokines) produced by synoviocytes (cells comprising the synovial lining of the joints), chrondrocytes (cells comprising joint cartilage) and leukocytes (immune cells).
University of Miami study suggested that ginger extract could one day be a substitute to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The study compared the effects of a highly concentrated ginger extract to placebo in 247 patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. The ginger reduced pain and stiffness in knee joints by 40 percent over the placebo.

“Research shows that ginger affects certain inflammatory processes at a cellular level,” says the study’s lead author, Roy Altman, MD, now at the University of CaliforniaLos Angeles.

Protection against Colorectal Cancer
The main active components found in ginger known as gingerols may also inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells, suggests research presented at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, a major meeting of cancer experts that took place in Phoenix, AZ, October 26-30, 2003.
Research associate professor Ann Bode noted, "These results strongly suggest that ginger compounds may be effective chemopreventive and/or chemotherapeutic agents for colorectal carcinomas."

Ginger Induces Cell Death in Ovarian Cancer Cells
Lab experiments presented at the 97th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer, by Dr Rebecca Lui and her colleagues from the University of Michigan, showed that gingerols, the active phytonutrients in ginger, kill ovarian cancer cells by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) and autophagocytosis (self-digestion).

Lowers cholesterol
A few studies have shown that ginger may lower cholesterol and help prevent blood from clotting. That can be helpful in treating heart disease, where blood vessels can become blocked and lead to heart attack or stroke.

Diabetes complications
Ginger helps in limiting the complications of diabetes. Studies have shown that ginger may help to lower protein levels in the urine, decrease water intake and urine output, and reverse proteinuria. Ginger also helps in diabetic neuropathy.