Ginger is one of the best known and more commonly used spices in Asian cuisine. Thanks to its amazing properties and universal application, it has also been present in European cuisine for years. Numerous scientific studies confirm its healing properties, which do not stop with the unidirectional effect of this plant. In many of them, it was shown that the action of ginger, due to the wide spectrum of action of its active components, is not only anti-inflammatory but also antimicrobial and immunomodulatory .
Ginger – what is it characterized by?
Ginger comes from the ginger family, which also includes turmeric and cardamom. All these spices are a source of antioxidants, and by them they owe their healing properties. In the root of this plant, we can find as many as one hundred active components, which in their synergistic action they support each other’s properties. In the root of the plant, there are, among others, compounds such as gingerols, or its main active compounds, which differ in the length of the carbon chains. In addition to the main group of gingerols, capsaicin and phytosterols are distinguished, as well as many other compounds supporting the previously mentioned activities. Large facilities of active agents and their synergy will work in favor of the product which is ginger, and as a result will constitute a broad spectrum of its activity .
What does the research say?
A large part of research on natural substances or products (most often due to the lack of funds) is tested on animal models. Nevertheless, it is possible to determine the approximate range of action of these products and use them for preventive or supportive purposes.
One of the studies that showed the positive effects of ginger is a study conducted on rats that developed an animal model of diabetes. In this case, the rats were given 500 mg / kg body weight of raw ginger for 7 weeks. Before and after the study, the results of rat blood tests were analyzed and compared to a control group that was not subjected to intervention with ginger. As a result of the research, it was discovered that ginger reduces the level of triglycerides, cholesterol and fasting glucose, and reduces the amount of urinary proteins excreted in diabetic rats .
Ginger also affects other diabetic parameters, except fasting glucose. According to a meta-analysis from 2016, based on nine clinical studies, ginger has properties that reduce inflammation, improve the lipid and glycemic profile. In this study a comparative analysis using ginger was made and it was concluded that it also has a significant effect on the reduction of glycated hemoglobin .
One of the most important active substances in ginger is zingerone. To test its properties, rats were subjected to chronic stress (1 hour daily for 21 days). Stress behavior, colonic transit, and antioxidant markers in the colon were evaluated after stress. As a result of chronic stress, the intestinal transit period was shortened, the level of antioxidants decreased, and the stress itself caused behavioral changes. After the administration of zingerone, it was noticed that superoxide dismutase and glutathione levels improved and corticosterone levels decreased. Zingeron also caused a significant improvement in intestinal transit disorders, which can be attributed to the extremely strong antioxidant nature. The authors also see adaptogenic action of giner .
Another very interesting study on the mouse allergy model was the study of the effect of ginger on the immune response via Th2 response in upper respiratory tract inflammation. A provocative test was carried out with ovalbumin, for which mice were sensitized. In the study group before exposure to the allergen, a gingerol extract obtained from ginger was administered. The number of specific IgE antibodies and the number of eosinophils was then compared. As a result of the research, it was concluded that ginger can suppress the Th2 arm-related immune responses, and thus may be a potential therapeutic application in allergic asthma [5,6,7].
The icing on the cake will be the last review, which explains how ginger through multi-directional reactions affects the entire body. The study compares many other, smaller studies and draw conclusions based on them. As a result, it was concluded that ginger primarily influences the improvement of digestive functions. However, this action is not one-way. It has been shown that ginger stimulates receptors located in the intestine, which affect both directly and indirectly on the enteroendocrine system and stimulate the secretion of cholecystekinin. This enzyme, in turn, has a positive effect on the production of bile, pancreatic enzymes, protects the gastric mucosa and promotes the improvement of gastrointestinal motility. In addition, the effect of ginger has the antilaxative effect .
To sum up
Ginger has an incredibly wide spectrum of therapeutic action in the early stages of disease and is also a very good preventive measure. Its use is limited by few factors that may be allergies or intolerances. Due to the high reactivity of ginger and possible interactions with medicines, please consult your physician in case of constant pharmacotherapy.
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Haniadka R., Saldanha E, Sunita A et.al .: A review of the gastroprotective effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe). Food & Function, 2013 Jun; 4 (6): 845-55. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23612703
Al-Amin ZM, Thomson M, Al-Qattan KK et.al .: Anti-diabetic and hypolipidaemic properties of ginger (Zingiber officinale) in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Br J Nutr. 2006 Oct; 96 (4): 660-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17010224
Mazidi M, Gao HK, Rezaie P, Ferns GA .: The effect of ginger supplementation on serum C-reactive protein, lipid profile and glycaemia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Food Nutr Res. Nov 2016 1; 60: 32613. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27806832
Banji D, Banja OJ, Pavani B et.al .: Zingerone regulates intestinal transit, attenuates behavior