Thanks to the University of North Carolina School of Pharmacy for the use of this article!
Allison Solomon and Jennifer Baker
Its Not Just For Cooking
Description of Plant:
Stem rises 2 to 3 feet, with green leaves and greenish-yellow flowers streaked
with purple. It stands erect and is enclosed by a protective sheathing
India is largest producer. Cultivated in other areas including Africa, Southeast
Asia, and West Indies. Will grow in areas that produce plentiful rainfall
Activity is due to the ginger oleoresin (volatile oil and resin) located
within the rhizome. A rhizome is an underground stem.
History and Folk Use:
Ginger was utilized in China as a medicinal agent 2,500 years ago.
They used it for abdominal distensions, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, rheumatism,
and toothaches. The Nigerians also used ginger to treat yellow fever and
malaria. In the West Indies, they used it for urinary tract infections. Over
25% of Indians still prepare a cough syrup made out of honey and ginger to
treat the common cold.
Gingerol is a component of the ginger oleoresin and is responsible for
gingers medicinal effects. It possesses antiemetic, cardiotonic,
antiinflammatory, and analgesic properties.
One of Gingers primary usage is as an Antiemetic for motion sickness,
postoperative nausea and vomiting, and hyperemisis gravidarum (intense morning
sickness). Ginger works on the gastrointestinal system to increase gastric
motility, absorb neutralizing toxins, and decrease acidity.
Ginger has a positive inotropic effect on the guinea pig isolated atria.
More studies need to be preformed on humans to determine its clinical
Ginger is used as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat migraine headaches
and rheumatoid arthritis. It has the ability to inhibit thromboxane synthetase
and act as a prostacyclin agonist. This in turn effects bleeding times in
patients. Research is still continuing on its clinical significance.
Ginger is relatively safe. In extremely large doses, it has the potential
to cause depression of the central nervous system and cardiac arrhythmias.
Capsules contain 500mg of powdered herb. The German Commission has issued
a daily dose level of 2 to 4 grams. Mixing one ounce of the rhizome to one
pint of water makes the ginger tea. The water is actually poured top of the
rhizome and allowed to steep for 10-15 minutes. A patient should drink one
to two cups per day.
Summary of Clinical Trials
Mowrey and Clayson Study: Ginger and dimenhydrinate were
tested on a group of 36 men and women who reported a high susceptibility
to motion sickness. The subjects were given, either two ginger gelatin capsules
(940mg), one 100mg dimenhydrinate capsule, or a placebo. The placebo was
used as the control. The subjects were then blindfolded and lead to a rotating
chair. They were rotated for 6 minutes and if they felt nausea or vomited,
then the experiment ended. None of the subjects that were given either the
placebo or the dimenhydrinate stayed the full six minutes. Half of the subjects
in the group that received the ginger capsules stayed in the rotating chair
for the full six minutes. It was concluded that ginger was superior over
dimenhydrinate at reducing motion sickness.
Arfeen, Owen, et al Study: A randomized, double-blinded, placebo
controlled experiment was conducted to test the efficacy of ginger on
postoperative nausea and vomiting. 108 subjects scheduled for elective
gynaecological laparoscopic surgery were selected to receive either, two
placebo pills, one placebo pill and one ginger pill, or two ginger pills.
The study showed that ginger was ineffective in preventing nausea and vomiting
in postoperative patients. There was incidence of nausea or vomiting in 9
patients out of 20 that were given ginger and 14 patients out of 20 that
were give placebo. It was concluded that ginger was not effective for
post-operative nausea and vomiting.
Phillip, Ruggier, & Hutchinson Study: The efficacy of ginger
on postoperative nausea and vomiting was compared with both metoclopramide
and placebo in a randomized, double blind trial. The subjects were 120 women
that were scheduled for elective gynaecological lapaoscopic surgery on a
day stay basis. The results were that 27% of the women that received
metoclopramide had incidence of nausea and vomiting. 41% of women that received
placebo experienced nausea and vomiting, and 21% of women that received ginger
experienced nausea and vomiting. It was concluded there was no difference
in efficacy of metoclopramide and ginger in preventing postoperative nausea
and vomiting. However, the results indicated that ginger was more effective
in preventing postoperative nausea and vomiting than placebo.
Fischer-Rasmussen, Kjaer, et al Study: The efficacy of ginger
on hyperemesis gravidarum was studied using a double blind randomized cross-over
trial. 30 pregnant women participated in the trial that had been admitted
to the hospital due to hyperemesis gravidarum. The women either received
a 250mg capsule of ginger or a 250mg capsule of placebo for the first treatment
period. Then the women switch pills for the second treatment period. The
results were that 19 out of 27 women experienced a greater diminishing of
symptoms when using the ginger than the placebo. It was concluded that ginger
was more efficacious than placebo for diminishing symptoms of hyperemesis
Shoji, Iwasa, et al Study: The cardiotonic properties of ginger
were evaluated on the isolated atria of a sacrificed guinea pig. To perform
this experiment, the guinea pig was sacrificed by cervical dislocation. It
was discovered that ginger had a positive inotropic effect on the atria.
Further studies need to be performed on humans to assess its clinical
Awang Study: A woman with frequent migraines received
effective prophylaxis from ginger in doses of 500mg-600mg. She took 1.5g-2.0g
daily doses of ginger for 4 days and then incorporated ginger in her diet.
In 13 months the woman only reported 6 migraines. This study was a good starting
point to investigate the antiinflammatory properties of ginger. A bigger
sampling size needs to be incorporated in future investigations.
Sharma, Strivastava, & Gan
Study: The efficacy of ginger on arthritic
rats was assessed in this experiment. The rats were injected with 0.5mL of
suspension of heatkilled Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Since the disease
of rheumatoid arthritis effects several joints, the adjuvant arthritis was
induced both in the knees and paws of the rats. The rats were given either
.33mL/mg of ginger oil, .33mL/mg of eugenol, or nothing prior to induction
of arthritis. The study concluded that there was a reduction in joint swelling
of the rats that received ginger oil compared to the rats that received nothing.
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