The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower abdomen that helps store urine. Several conditions, such as incontinence, bladder infections, bladder cancer and cystitis, can affect the functioning of the organ and may lead to bladder discomfort. Your doctor may prescribe medications or surgery to treat your condition. The role of supplements and natural foods such as ginger in managing bladder diseases is unclear. Talk to a doctor before using ginger or its supplements.
Ginger is the knotted, thick underground stem of the Zingiber officinale plant. It has been used as a food and spice in many cultures across the world. It also contains volatile oils and phenolic compounds such as gingerols and shagoals, which give it immense medicinal value and help treat a variety of conditions, including morning sickness, nausea, vomiting and inflammation. Ginger is available as fresh or dried roots, and as capsules, tablets, oils and tinctures. The dose, however, is different in different people. Your doctor may guide you about the appropriate dose and form, based on your age and overall health.
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Ginger can exert protective effects on chemically induced bladder cancer in animal models, according to a study published in the November 2006 issue of the "World Journal of Urology." Another study in the March-April 2009 issue of the "Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences" reveals ethanol extracts of ginger exhibit significant antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli, which frequently causes urinary tract and bladder infections.
However, an October 2006 study in the "Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis" reveals that ginger does not prevent the formation of bladder tumors in animal models exposed to carcinogenic chemicals. Note that the benefits of ginger have been proven in laboratory animals only, and more research and clinical trials are needed before it can replace any existing medications for bladder diseases.
Ginger has been used in food for centuries and is considered safe in moderate amounts. High doses, however, may lead to heartburn, diarrhea and irritation of the mouth. Individuals with bleeding disorders and gallstones should use ginger only under the supervision of a doctor, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. Ginger supplements may also interfere with certain anticoagulant medications.
Ginger and its supplements are easily available at most natural food stores but you must talk to a doctor before using them. Also, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the production of ginger supplements in the United States. Make sure that the product you intend to use has been tested for safety and efficacy by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention or any other independent clinical laboratory.
- "Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis"; Effects of Ginger (Zingiber Officinale Roscoe) on DNA Damage and Development of Urothelial Tumors in a Mouse Bladder Carcinogenesis Model; L. T. Bidinotto, et al.; October 2006
- "Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences"; Antibacterial Activity of Medicinal Plants Against Pathogens Causing Complicated Urinary Tract Infections; Anjana Sharma, et al.; March-April 2009
- "World Journal of Urology"; Chemopreventive Property of Dietary Ginger in Rat Urinary Bladder Chemical Carcinogenesis; S. M. Ihlaseh, et al.; November 2006
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Ginger
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