Ginger, one of the most-favored spices in the world, is grown throughout most tropical and subtropical regions. Ginger has a long history of cultivation that dates back to pre-recorded history and was one of only a few imports taxed by the Romans. In Europe in the Middle Ages, ginger was used in pubs to sprinkle on beer. Ginger's medicinal properties are well known to herbalists of many cultural traditions. Scientific research has confirmed some of ginger's purported health benefits, including some pertaining to liver health.
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Ginger and chicory showed liver-protective properties in a study published in the September 2010 issue of the "Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences." In the study on laboratory animals, 250 milligrams and 500 milligrams per kilogram of body weight of ginger and the same amounts of chicory significantly improved liver damage and restored blood composition to normal when administered individually or together. Neither substance caused toxic effects at doses up to 5 grams per kilogram. Microscopic evaluation of liver tissue also showed improvements from the two supplements.
Ginger may protect against liver fibrosis -- a form of degenerative scar formation -- according to a study published in the June 2011 issue of the journal "Nutrition and Metabolism." Researchers tested several extracts of ginger and found that all extracts increased levels of important antioxidant enzymes used by the liver, including glutathione and superoxide dismutase. Researchers concluded that ginger shows potential for use in the treatment of liver fibrosis. Further clinical trials are needed to confirm these preliminary results.
Schistosomiasis, a parasite that damages the liver and intestines, may respond well to treatment with ginger extract, according to researchers in the biology department of King Khaled University, Saudi Arabia. Ginger produced the most inhibition of the parasite among several tested plants in the study. Worms treated with ginger had altered surface structures with loss of certain areas and erosion in others. Microscope evaluation of liver tissue showed fewer and smaller affected areas in ginger-treated animals. The study was published in the February 2011 issue of the journal "Parasitology Research."
Ginger may protect against nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, an increasingly common condition associated with insulin resistance that is nearing epidemic proportions, say researchers who conducted a study published in the January 2011 issue of the "World Journal of Gastroenterology." Ginger may help prevent or treat this liver condition by reducing oxidative stress on the liver, decreasing insulin resistance and inhibiting inflammation, all contributing factors to this condition. Clinical trials are in order to determine the extent of the benefits that ginger may offer for liver health.