It’s Wise To Boost Your Natural Immunity With Healthy Foods Such As Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

 

The botanical name for ginger is Zingiber officinale. It is widely used for its roots or rhizome. Ginger roots are used as a spice in everyday cooking in Indian curries, masala chai tea, and has also been used to a great extent in ancient Indian medicinal system of Ayurveda. Ginger roots have been used throughout Asia as a spice or aroma ingredient, such as, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and China.

Although ginger is grown in many countries around the globe, India is the largest producer of ginger in the world and stays in seventh position in its worldwide export. The reasons being India’s warm and humid climate, wide use in everyday cooking and chai tea, and its demand for Ayurveda medicines.

 

Nutritional information of Ginger

 

Summary of Health Benefits of Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Ginger has numerous health benefits due to its phenolic compounds gingerols and shogaols.

  • – Boosts Immunity
  • – Anti-inflammatory Agent
  • – Anti-oxidant Agent
  • – Anticancer Potential
  • – Promotes Gastrointestinal Health
  • – Helps with Gingivitis
  • – Helps with Diabetes
  • – Aids with Arthritis
  • – Cardiovascular Protective Agent
  • – Respiratory Protective Agent
  • – Anti-nausea Agent
  • – Anti-obesity Agent

 

Health Benefits of Ginger (Zingiber officinale) found in Clinical Trials and Scientific Studies

Boosts Immunity

In times like these, we know that our body’s increased natural immunity is the most coveted goal. Human race has encountered various types of viruses in the last few decades, such as, common cold, flu, smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, and shingles, hepatitis, herpes and cold sores, polio, rabies, SARS and Ebola. A vaccine works by training our body’s immune system to recognize and combat foreign pathogens, either viruses or bacteria. This is accomplished by introducing certain molecules (antigens) from the foreign pathogens into the body to trigger the required immune response. Vaccines against pathogens take years to be developed in research laboratories and tested in clinical trials.

Wouldn’t it be prudent to enhance our natural immune system with healthy foods, good nutrition, beneficial herbs, exercise, yoga and meditation? Ginger has been used extensively in Ayurveda as natural immunity boosting ingredient, and also found beneficial in several scientific studies. Bhat et al. (2010) investigated the effect of a tea fortified with five herbs including ginger for their putative immuno enhancing effect on innate immunity. These were two independent double-blind intervention studies with healthy volunteers (age >or= 55 years) selected for a relatively low baseline natural killer (NK) cell activity and a history of recurrent coughs and colds. These studies indicated that regular consumption of the tea fortified with Ayurvedic herbs enhanced NK cell activity.

 

Anti-inflammatory agent

Various scientific investigations have shown that oxidative stress and inflammation inside human body may onset various diseases, such as, hypertension, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), and atherosclerosis. Several studies have indicated that ginger may be beneficial to reduce the level of oxidative stress and inflammation and thereby may reduce muscle pain after intense physical activity. In a double-blind, placebo controlled, randomized experiments with 34 and 40 volunteers who consumed 2 grams of either raw or heated ginger or placebo for 11 consecutive days, Black et al. (2010) studied ginger’s effectiveness as a pain reliever. This study demonstrated that daily consumption of raw and heat-treated ginger resulted in moderate-to-large reductions in muscle pain following exercise-induced muscle injury.

 

Anti-oxidant agent

Increased free radical levels within body cause oxidative damage to biological molecules, including DNA, protein, and carbohydrates. This ongoing oxidative stress within body affects normal cell signaling, cell growth, differentiation, and apoptosis and leads to various diseases. Kulkarni et al. (2016) explored the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect of ginger in pulmonary Tuberculosis (TB) patients in a randomized and placebo-controlled study. Ginger was found to be effective as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant supplement along with anti-TB therapy as it possesses strong free radical scavenging property.

 

Anticancer potential

Several herbs, including ginger, have been studied as an anti-cancer natural agent due to their anti-oxidant effects. In an animal model study, Habib et al. (2008) found that ginger extract significantly reduced the elevated expression of NFkappaB and TNF-alpha in rats with liver cancer. The investigators of this study concluded that ginger may act as an anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent by inactivating NFkappaB through the suppression of the pro-inflammatory TNF-alpha.

 

Promotes Gastrointestinal health

Emrani (2016) studied the potential benefits of ginger in preventing anti-tuberculosis drug-induced gastrointestinal adverse reactions including hepatotoxicity. Patients’ gastrointestinal complaints (nausea, vomiting, dyspepsia, and abdominal pain) were recorded during the study period. The investigators concluded that ginger may be a potential option for prevention of anti-tuberculosis drug-induced gastrointestinal adverse reactions including hepatotoxicity.

 

Helps with Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a highly prevalent periodontal disease resulting from microbial infection and subsequent inflammation. Mahyari et al. (2016) investigated the efficacy of a poly-herbal mouthwash containing ginger extract in a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial including subjects with gingivitis. This poly-herbal mouthwash was effective in the treatment of gingivitis and its efficacy was comparable to that of chlorhexidine mouthwash.

 

Helps with Diabetes

Arablou et al. (2014) assessed the effect of ginger consumption on glycemic status, lipid profile and some inflammatory markers in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus in a double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 70 type 2 diabetic patients. This study found that ginger reduced fasting plasma glucose, HbA1C, insulin, HOMA, triglyceride, total cholesterol, CRP and PGE₂ significantly compared with placebo group (p < 0.05).  Ginger also improved insulin sensitivity and some fractions of lipid profile in type 2 diabetic patients.

 

Aids with Arthritis

Altman et al. (2001) evaluated the efficacy and safety of a standardized and highly concentrated extract of 2 ginger species, Zingiber officinale and Alpinia galanga (EV.EXT 77), in patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter, parallel-group, 6-week study. In the 247 evaluable patients, the percentage of responders experiencing a reduction in knee pain on standing was superior in the ginger extract group compared with the control group. The investigators concluded that a highly purified and standardized ginger extract had a statistically significant effect on reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee.

 

So how can I consume Ginger to boost my immunity?

Ginger is widely used as a spice throughout the world, added as ingredient in cooking for various cuisine types, such as, Indian, Korean, Japanese, etc. Ginger is also used to make candies, soda, pickles, tea and alcoholic beverages. The juice from ginger roots is also used for flavoring dishes such as seafood, meat, and vegetarian dishes. Ginger roots are also dried and their powder is used as a flavoring agent to make ginger cookies, ginger bread, crackers and cakes, ginger ale, and ginger beer. Ginger root is cooked in sugar until soft to make ginger candies and sold as a confectionery food item in various stores.

Ginger Cookies Ginger Tea Ginger Candies

 

References

Jyoti Bhat, Aparna Damle, Pankaj Vaishnav, Ruud Albers, Manoj Joshi, Gautam Banerjee (2010) In Vivo Enhancement of Natural Killer Cell Activity Through Tea Fortified With Ayurvedic Herbs. Phytother Res. 2010 Jan;24(1):129-35. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2889.

Saman Mahyari, Behnam Mahyari, Seyed Ahmad Emami, Bizhan Malaekeh-Nikouei, Seyedeh Pardis Jahanbakhsh, Amirhossein Sahebkar, Amir Hooshang Mohammadpour (2016) Evaluation of the Efficacy of a Polyherbal Mouthwash Containing Zingiber Officinale, Rosmarinus Officinalis and Calendula Officinalis Extracts in Patients With Gingivitis: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2016 Feb;22:93-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2015.12.001. Epub 2015 Dec 10.

Tahereh Arablou, Naheed Aryaeian, Majid Valizadeh, Faranak Sharifi, AghaFatemeh Hosseini, Mahmoud Djalali (2014) The Effect of Ginger Consumption on Glycemic Status, Lipid Profile and Some Inflammatory Markers in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2014 Jun;65(4):515-20. doi: 10.3109/09637486.2014.880671. Epub 2014 Feb 4.

Christopher D Black, Matthew P Herring, David J Hurley, Patrick J O’Connor (2010) Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) Reduces Muscle Pain Caused by Eccentric Exercise. J Pain. 2010 Sep;11(9):894-903. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2009.12.013. Epub 2010 Apr 24.

Rashmi Anant Kulkarni, Ajit Ramesh Deshpande (2016) Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Effect of Ginger in Tuberculosis. J Complement Integr Med. 2016 Jun 1;13(2):201-6. doi: 10.1515/jcim-2015-0032.

Shafina Hanim Mohd Habib, Suzana Makpol, Noor Aini Abdul Hamid, Srijit Das, Wan Zurinah Wan Ngah, Yasmin Anum Mohd Yusof (2008) Ginger Extract (Zingiber Officinale) Has Anti-Cancer and Anti-Inflammatory Effects on Ethionine-Induced Hepatoma Rats. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2008 Dec;63(6):807-13. doi: 10.1590/s1807-59322008000600017.

Zahra Emrani, Esphandiar Shojaei, Hossein Khalili (2016) Ginger for Prevention of Antituberculosis-induced Gastrointestinal Adverse Reactions Including Hepatotoxicity: A Randomized Pilot Clinical Trial. Phytother Res. 2016 Jun;30(6):1003-9. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5607. Epub 2016 Mar 7.

R D Altman, K C Marcussen (2001) Effects of a Ginger Extract on Knee Pain in Patients With Osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Nov;44(11):2531-8. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(200111)44:11<2531::aid-art433>3.0.co;2-j.

https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169231/nutrients

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