Ancient healers used the roots of the Zingiber officinale plant and related species to cure a wide variety of ailments. Modern researchers have documented many of these health effects, and consumers purchase a large amount of ginger each day. A May 2011 article in "Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition" described how this herb can play a role in treating cardiovascular problems, digestive disorders and diabetes. While promising, such data needs to be confirmed before ginger can become a staple treatment in alternative medicine.
Kills Cancer Cells
A September 2011 report in "BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine" looked at the effect of ginger on breast cancer cells. Researchers exposed the cultured cells to ginger infusions during a single testing session. Ginger killed many of the cancer cells and slowed the growth of others.
Reduces Fat Accumulation
A study in the September 2011 edition of the "Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture" assessed the impact of ginger on fat absorption. Rats received daily doses of ginger for eight weeks. This treatment facilitated fat digestion and increased energy level. These changes prevented the accumulation of body fat.
Decreases Cellular Swelling
An experiment in the November 2011 issue of "Food and Chemical Toxicology" determined the effect of ginger extracts on cellular swelling. The authors exposed cultured brain cells to shogaol -- an active ingredient found in ginger. This exposure decreased swelling by increasing the production of a heat-shock protein.
A June 2011 report in "Acta Medica Iranica" tested the effects of ginger on salivation in laboratory animals. Rats received ginger injections during a single testing session. This treatment increased salivation within seven minutes. Increasing salivation reduces the incidence of dental problems.
Protects Your Liver
A September 2010 paper in the "Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences" tested ginger's ability to protect the liver. Laboratory animals first received a toxin known to cause liver damage. Rats given ginger did not show the damage seen in controls. Ginger remained effective and safe -- even when given in large doses.
An investigation in the September 2011 edition of the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology" looked at the effect of ginger on feelings of pain. The scientists first injected an irritant into the paws of mice. Simultaneous injection of extracted ginger blocked the pain caused by the toxin.
Increases Uterine Contractions
A study in the June 2011 issue of "Reproductive Sciences" evaluated the impact of ginger on the uteri of female rodents. Rats given the herb had a greater number of contractions than those given a placebo. Uterine stimulants like ginger can help ensure a healthy childbirth.
An April 2011 report in "Chemistry and Biodiversity" assessed the effect of wild ginger on two types of microbes. The researchers exposed five strains of bacteria and four strains of fungi to ginger extracts during a single testing session. The wild ginger easily killed both kinds of microbes.
An report in the December 201 issue "Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology" tested ginger's ability to heal experimental ulcers. The scientists first intentionally induced ulcers in laboratory rats. Treating these ulcers with ginger for three days limited ulceration and promoted healing. Autopsies revealed that the antioxidant properties of ginger mediated these effects.
Prevents Neuronal Plaque
The antioxidant effects of ginger provide other health benefits as well. A June 2011 article in "Food and Chemical Toxicology" looked at the impact of a ginger extract on neuronal plaque -- a symptom of Alzheimer's disease. Rats given gingerol -- an active ingredient in ginger -- had less plaque than those given saline.
- Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition; Ginger and Its Health Claims: Molecular Aspects; Masood Sadiq Butt and M. Tauseef Sultan
- BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine; In Vitro Antioxidant and Anticancer Activity of Young Zingiber Officinale Against Human Breast Carcinoma Cell Lines; Shahedur Rahman, et al.
- Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture; Fat Digestion and Absorption in Spice-Pretreated Rats; Usha N.S. Prakash and Krishnapura Srin
- Food and Chemical Toxicology; Anti-Inflammatory Effects of -Shogaol; Sehwan Shim, et al.
- Acta Medica Iranica; Evaluation of Effects of Zingiber Officinale on Salivation in Rats; Goli Chamani, et al.
- Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Hepatoprotective Effect of Methanol Extracts of Zingiber Officinale and Cichorium Intybus; A.H. Atta, et al.
- Journal of Ethnopharmacology; Antinociceptive Effect of the Essential Oil of Zingiber Zerumbet in Mice; Mohamed Hanief Khalid, et al.
- Reproductive Sciences; Effects of Wild Ginger [Costus Speciosus (Koen) Smith] Rhizome Extract and Diosgenin on Rat Uterine Contractions; W. Lijuan, et al.
- Chemistry and Biodiversity; Chemical Constituents and Antimicrobial Activity of the Leaf and Rhizome Oils of Alpinia Pahangensis Ridl., An Endemic Wild Ginger From Peninsular Malaysia; Khalijah Awang, et al.
- Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology; Ginger Extract and Polaprezinc Exert Gastroprotective Actions by Anti-Oxidant and Growth Factor Modulating Effects in Rats; Joshua K Ko and Catherine C. Leung