Ginger: to health and to disease
If you already have had symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, dyspepsia and abdominal pain, probably you have listened at least once someone saying, "ginger can solve it!" accompanied by a traditional family recipe to it.
Everything because of ginger has been used since antiquity as a herbal medicine to treat a variety of these gastrointestinal disorders and also arthritis, muscle aches and fever.
The ginger fame come from popular culture mainly and it has stimulated the development of clinical trials to scientifically assess the effectiveness of ginger as an adjuvant therapy, especially in nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, induced by chemotherapy and in postoperative, and also other benefits for health.
As one of the most widely consumed herbs worldwide, especially on Asian cultures, ginger is used in several forms: it can be fresh, dryed, crystallized, picked, candied, infusions or even in capsules.
It is already known ginger is considered a safe herb for human consumption, that its composition includes several bioactive and phytochemical compounds, such as phenolic compounds and flavonoids and that its pharmacological activity appears to be attributed to gingerols and shogaols (dehydrated products of gingerols). It is also evident that the preparation and the processing steps involved change the concentrations of the bioactive compounds.
Published studies have found the following results:
reduction of vomiting among individuals on chemotherapy treatment and pregnant women due to the peripheral action of the herb in the gastrointestinal tract, increasing gastric motility and, consequently, gastric emptying.
reduction of nausea in individuals on chemotherapy treatment, in pregnant women and in postoperative.
improvement of insulin sensitivity.
beneficial effects on blood pressure and endothelial function.
beneficial effects on obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
These effects are mediated through regulation of lipid metabolism, modulation of insulin secretion by pancreas, inhibition of oxidative stress, enhancement of anti-inflammatory activity, and hypotensive and antiatherosclerotic mechanisms.
For nausea and vomiting the action of ginger components on serotonin and cholinergic receptors of the nervous system has been investigated.
The precise mechanisms are not well understood as well as the ideal dose and the best form of consumption to reach such results. The studies are distinct as to the doses and the amplitude of the results. However, the evidence demonstrates that ginger is safe, effective, inexpensive and can be used as a complementary treatment, especially for nausea and vomiting.
Lete and Allué. The effectiveness of ginger in the Prevention of nausea and vomiting during Pregnancy and chemotherapy. Integrative Medicine Insights. 2016.
Wang J, Ke W, Bao R, Hu X, Chen F.Beneﬁcial effects of ginger Zingiber ofﬁcinale Roscoe on obesity and metabolic syndrome: a review. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 2017.
Wang Y, Yu H, Zhang X, Feng Q, Guo X, Li S, Li R, Chu D, Ma Y. Evaluation of daily ginger consumption for the prevention of chronic diseases in adults: a cross-section study. Nutrition. 2016.