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Ginger treats many things

Ginger root contains pungent anti-oxidant substances known as gingerols that provide some pretty amazing health benefits. Let’s look at them here.


Zingiber officinale (ginger) is a spice and also an herbal medicine. It is used in numerous forms: fresh, dried, pickled (with sushi), candied, crystallized, powdered or ground.

Research has recently markedly increased in ginger and its various components. Because it has been used for more than 3,000 years and shows preventive and therapeutic effects in medicine, scientific studies focus on verifying ginger’s pharmacological and physiological actions.[1] At least 115 constituents of fresh and dried ginger have been identified by analytical processes.

Ginger has been fractionated into at least 14 bioactive compounds; gingerols comprise the predominant chemical compounds that give its medicinal properties[2] with at least 31 known gingerol-related compounds.[3] Gingerols are essentially bioactive phenolic anti-oxidants. For example, 6-Gingerol is the predominant pharmacologically-active component in ginger. Other gingerols include 4-gingerol, 8-gingerol, 10-gingerol, and 12-gingerol.[4]

These bioactive compounds in ginger have well proven anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant,[5] [6] and anti-cancer biological effects as well as being protective against other disease conditions. There are numerous supporting studies about this amazing and mighty herbal medicine.[7]

So, when my local internal medicine colleagues claim that my recommendations to their patients to consume nutrient-rich foods is not “evidence-based,” they are simply uninformed.

Ginger for nausea control

The most well-established use of ginger is its use for alleviating symptoms of nausea and vomiting. This antiemetic effect of ginger has been attributed to its “carminative” effect—it breaks up and expels intestinal gas.

Even randomized, double-blind trials show that ginger effectively accelerates gastric emptying[8]and reduces nausea.[9] [10]

Ginger for nerve health

Researchers analyzed fresh ginger extract found it to have a significant anti-neuroinflammatory capacity. As reported in a December 2013 issue of Food Chemicals,[11]researchers analyzed the inhibitory activities neuro-inflammation by seven gingerol-related compounds and fresh ginger extract in a nerve culture model. They concluded that, “Fresh ginger extract exhibited a significant anti-neuroinflammatory capacity, which was largely owing to 10-gingerol, but not 6-gingerol.”

Ginger for joint health

When combined with Nrf2-activating herbs, 6-gingerol enhances endogenous antioxidant enzymes, and thereby decreases free radical production and inflammation. In one study,[12]researchers evaluated the effects of these two products on cartilage cells of humans with osteoarthritis and also mice with osteoarthritis. They concluded that these in combination were “…essential in preserving cartilage and abolishing a number of factors known to be involved in OA pathogenesis.”

Ginger has anti-cancerous properties

Researchers study the bioactive substances in herbs largely to discover any nutraceutical applications it may have. Only then do drug companies study the ingredients they can potentially patent and sell for health benefits. And when it comes to fighting cancer, the stakes and profits can be high.

For example, in a 2017 review in Food Function,[13] researchers discuss the recent studies have indicated and highlighted the role of 10-gingerol with respect to its cancer prevention attributes. They admit that the purpose of their review is “…to provide an overview of all the experimentally validated health benefits of 10-G for nutraceutical applications.” The researchers concluded that “The various findings have warranted the further investigation of 10-G and its possible use in various cancer treatments as well as its promising role as a chemo-preventive agent.”

Accordingly, there have been numerous studies of ginger on cancer prevention and treatment. We should see some drug companies marketing a ginger-derived anti-cancer drug soon.

In my next report I’ll look closely at the medicinal effects of cinnamon.

To longevity and feeling good,

Michael Cutler, M.D.


[1] Ali B. H, Blunden G, Tanira M. O, Nemmar A. Some phytochemical, pharmacological and toxicological properties of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe): A review of recent research. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008;46(2):409–20. Pubmed PMID: 17950516 [2] Wang S, Zhang C, Yang G, Yang Y. Biological properties of 6-gingerol: a brief review. Nat Prod Commun. 2014 Jul;9(7):1027-30. Review. PubMed PMID: 25230520. [3] Jiang H, Solyom A. M, Timmermann B. N, Gang D. R. Characterization of gingerol-related compounds in ginger rhizome (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) by high-performance liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2005;19(20):2957–64. Pubmed PMID:16189817. [4] Koh E. M, Kim H. J, Kim S, editors. et al. Modulation of macrophage functions by compounds isolated from Zingiber officinale. Planta Med. 2009;75(2):148–51. PMID: 19031369. [5] Aeschbach R, Loliger J, Scott B. C, Murcia A, Butler J, Halliwell B, Aruoma O. I. Antioxidant actions of thymol, carvacrol, [6]-gingerol, zingerone and hydroxytyrosol. Food Chem Toxicol. 1994;32(1):31–6. Pubmed PMID: 7510659 [6] Ahmad N, Katiyar S.K, Mukhtar H. Antioxidants in chemoprevention of skin cancer. Curr Probl Dermatol. 2001;29:128–39. Pubmed PMID: 11225193. [7] [8] Wu K. L, Rayner C. K, Chuah S. K, editors. et al. Effects of ginger on gastric emptying and motility in healthy humans. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008;20(5):436–40. Pubmed PMID: 18403946 [9] Boone S. A, Shields K. M. Treating pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting with ginger. Ann Pharmacother. 2005;39(10):1710–3. Pubmed PMID: 16131535. [10] [11] Ho SC, Chang KS, Lin CC. Anti-neuroinflammatory capacity of fresh ginger is attributed mainly to 10-gingerol. Food Chem. 2013 Dec 1;141(3):3183-91. Epub 2013 Jun 11. PubMed PMID: 23871076. [12] Abusarah J, Benabdoune H, Shi Q, Lussier B, Martel-Pelletier J, Malo M, Fernandes JC, de Souza FP, Fahmi H, Benderdour M. Elucidating the Role of Protandim and 6-Gingerol in Protection Against Osteoarthritis. J Cell Biochem. 2017 May;118(5):1003-1013. Epub 2017 Jan 5. PubMed PMID: 27463229. [13] Zhang F, Thakur K, Hu F, Zhang JG, Wei ZJ. Cross-talk between 10-gingerol and its anti-cancerous potential: a recent update. Food Funct. 2017 Aug 1;8(8):2635-2649. Epub 2017 Jul 26. Review. PubMed PMID:28745358.

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