Ginger, also know as Zingiber officinale, is commonly used as a spice and as an alternative treatment for a variety of diseases. Tea made from ginger is promoted in health food outlets and on the Internet for its purported protective benefits in kidney health. However, no human medical studies currently exist to verify these claims. Therefore, consult a nephrologist for any kidney-related illnesses.
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Ginger and Alcohol-Related Kidney Disease
Alcohol damages kidneys by decreasing the availability of vital nutrients such as ascorbic acid and enzymes including superoxide dismutase and xanthine oxidase. An article published in the February 2010 issue of the “Indian Journal of Experimental Biology” investigated the effects of ginger extract on alcohol-induced kidney damage in male rats. After inducing renal damage in the experimental animals, the researchers found that 100 milligrams of ginger per kilogram of body weight daily restored normal kidney function. The study concluded that ginger possess antioxidant compounds beneficial in kidney function.
Zingerone is a biologically active compound found in ginger root that has demonstrated anticancer effects. A study published in the June 2010 issue of “Experimental Gerontology” evaluated the anticancer effects of zingerone in kidneys by inactivating an inflammatory molecular pathway. The researchers investigated this signaling pathway in the kidneys of aged rats and found that zingerone was effective in suppressing the inflammatory pathways. The authors concluded that zingerone treatment may provide protection against inflammatory diseases involving the kidneys.
Ischemic Kidney Damage
Ischemia is a condition in which blood flow in inhibited, as what occurs after a heart attack. A study appearing in the April 2004 issue of “Renal Failure” evaluated the effects of ginger extract on renal ischemia in rats. The researchers induced ischemia in the experimental rats, supplemented the animals with an aqueous extract of ginger and removed their kidneys to test for renal function. The study found that dietary ginger supplementation significantly reduced renal damage caused by artificial ischemia by inhibiting antioxidant activities.
Anticancer drugs can cause damage to the kidneys by inducing oxidative stress. Researchers published an article in the September 2008 issue of “Food and Chemical Toxicology” to evaluate the protective effects of an aqueous extract of ginger on kidney damage caused by chemotherapy using experimental rats. The researchers monitored relevant enzymatic activities as well as creatine and urea levels to evaluate kidney function. The study found that 200 milligrams of ginger extract per kilogram of body weight promoted the activities of antioxidant enzymes in kidney function.