GINGER: The Power of Ginger in Herbal Medicine

GINGER: The Power of Ginger in Herbal Medicine


The Herb that Warms the Interior and Expels Cold

Zingiber Officinale Roscoe, Zingiberacae


Vesna Podkrajac | MRehbCoulng (current), MPhil Psych, BA App Psych, BHSc TC MEDICINE (current), Dip HRM, Neuropsychology, Neuroscientist, Counsellor, Psychotherapist, Master CBT, TC MEDICINE Practicioner 


MAJOR KNOWN INGREDIENTS: zingiberol, zingiberene, phellandrene, camphene, citral, linalool, methylgingerdiol, gingerdiacetate, methygingerdiacetate, albizziin, zingerone, shogoal, farnesol, hexahydro-cureumin, bisabolene, cureumene, d-borneol, 1-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-3, 5-octanediol, 5-diacetoxyoctane.


Fresh Ginger



Pharmaceutical name: Rhizoma Zingiberis Officinalis Recens
Botanical name: Zingiber officinale Rosc.
Family: zingiberaceae

Where grown in China: Sichuan, Guizhou, and elsewhere in China. This herb is cultivated.
When harvested: before the winter solstice

Alternate name: shêng jiâng pián

Japanese name: shokyo
Korean name: saenggang
English name: fresh ginger rhizome
Properties: acrid, warm


The Herb that Warms the Interior and Expels Cold

Zingiber OfficinalRoscoe, Zingiberacae


Dried Ginger



Pharmaceutical name: Rhizoma Zingiberis Officinalis
Botanical name: Zingiber officinale Rosc.
Family: zingiberaceae

Where grown in China: Sichuan, Guizhou, and elsewhere in China
When harvested: winter after aerial parts have withered

Alternate name: dán gân jiâng

Japanese name: kankyô
Korean name: kôngang
English name: dried ginger rhizome, ginger (dried)
Properties: acrid, hot



Ginger (Zingiber OfficinaleRoscoe) is a tropical and subtropical cultivated plant, and it is derived from Zingiberaceae (Shao et al., 2010; Arablou & Aryaeian, 2018). Ginger is native to Asia and is grown in Africa, India, and other tropical regions around the world (Arablou & Aryaeian, 2018). Ginger is a plant with thick roots and vertical upright stems. The outer membrane of rhizome is yellow or brown. The internal membrane of the rhizome is yellowish brown and contains oleoresin.


Today, more than 400 diverse compounds have been identified in ginger (Singh et al., 2010). The quality of ginger depends on the region of cultivation, the cultivation process, the processing methods applied, and whether ginger is used in fresh or dried appearances (Ali et al., 2008; Arablou & Aryaeian, 2018). Ginger’s health properties were first written more than 2000 years ago (Vasanthi and Parameswari, 2010). Ginger (Zingiber OfficinaleRoscoe, Zingiberacae) is a medicinal plant, extensively applied in traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic (Indian), Tibb-Unani, Arabia and Africa herbal medicines around the world for thousands of years for treating rheumatism, muscular aches, arthritis, sprains, pains (Rahmama et al., 2012), cramps, sore throats, indigestion, constipation, vomiting, hypertension, dementia, fever, infectious diseases and helminthiasis (Ali et al., 2008; Shao et al., 2010).


In addition, ginger being a traditional medicine for centuries, it has been also used as a spice in cooking (Arablou & Aryaeian, 2018) as well as a dietary supplements, drinks, and food products like sweets, jams, soups, and curries (Shao et al., 2010; Arablou & Aryaeian, 2018). In Western herbal medicine practice, ginger is principally defined as a plant effective for the prevention of nausea and motion sickness (Grant et al., 2000; Shao et al., 2010).


Most noteworthy is that many literature reviews have been dedicated to specific aspects of ginger’s medicinal application. In recent years, ginger has drawn much more attention for anti-inflammation, antioxidative, anticarinogenic, antimutagenic, and anticoagulation properties due to the very long history of medicinal application because of being rich in bio-active constituents (Arablou & Aryaeian, 2018). For instance, the study of Grazanna et al. (2005) discusses the application of ginger as an anti-inflammatory agent, while that of Shukla and Singh (2007) report the cancer prevention properties of the ginger.



Chemistry of Ginger

Zingiber Officinale Roscoe, Zingiberacae



Certainly, in recent herbal medicine, ginger has gained attention for its application as a potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and analgesic, due to its ability to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Above all, ginger is composed of many constituents that vary depending on the origin where the rhizomes are grown and whether they are fresh or dry (Ali et al., 2008; Arablou & Aryaeian, 2018). The odor of ginger depends on its oil which varies between 1% to 3% (Arablou & Aryaeian, 2018).  More than 50 components of the oil are identified (monoterpenoid and sesqui-terpenod compounds) and they include monoterpenoids [ß-phellandrene, (+)-camphene, cineole, geraniol, curcumene, citral, terpineol,, borneol] and sesquiterpenoids [ã-zingiberne (30-70%), ß-sesquiphellandrene (15-20%), ß-bisabolene (10-15%), (E-E)-ã-farnesene, arcurcumene, zingiberol] (Ali et al., 2008; Singh et al., 2010; Arablou & Aryaeian, 2018). The bio-active compounds of gingerols, shogaols, and paradols have been identified and examined in ginger recommending that they contribute significant part in health contributions to humans and animals as well for flavoring food. The pungency of fresh ginger is because of the phenolic compounds named gingerols, among which 6-gingerol is the most aboundant (Arablou & Aryaeian, 2018). Gingerols are not stable during storage or theramal processing as they generate the dehydrated ginger. The pungency of dry ginger is from shogaols which is dehydrated form of gingerols (Arablou & Aryaeian, 2018).


Pharmacological Properties of Ginger

Zingiber OfficinaleRoscoe, Zingiberacae



The main pharmacological properties of ginger and its segregated compounds include an immune modulator, anti-tumorgenesis, anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptosis, and anti-vomiting (Arablou & Aryaeian, 2018). Thomson et al., (2002) reports that ginger may be applied as an anti-thrombotic and anti-inflammatory agent. Some studies reported that ginger can improve some parameters of lipid profile, particularly in diabetic patients (Arablou & Aryaeian, 2018). Other studies report that the blood pressure-lowering effect of ginger is mediated through blockage of voltage-dependent calcium channels (Ali et al., 2008). According to the literature findings regarding to the effect of ginger consumption on lipid profile, ginger is considered valuable plant for modifying blood lipids, especially in diabetic patients (Arablou & Aryaeian, 2018). The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger have been understood for centuries (Grzanna et al., 2005). In 1980’s, it was discovered that ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, and that was evidenced by its inhibitory effects on prostaglandins synthesis (Kiuchi et al., 1982). Some reseaches show that ginger reduces inflammation in osteoarthritis (Naderi et al., 2015). In the study, it has been shown that ginger contains constituents (i.e. gingerdiones and shogaols) that have pharmacological properties of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), in human leukocytes in vitro (Flynn et al., 1968). Charlier and Michaux (2003) and Martel-Pelletier et al. (2003) report that this inhibitors have less side effects and they are more effective than conventional NSAIDs.


Furthermore, Grzanna et al, (2005) report that ginger (some of it’s constituents) is effective against cytokines synthesized and secreted at places of inflammation. Cytokines are small proteins secreted at the places of inflammation by lymphocytes, macrophages, fibroblasts and other cells, and act as chemical messengers between cells involved in immune and inflammatory response. Thus, Grzanna et al. (2005) found that ginger modulates biochemical pathways in chronic inflammation. An in vitro study reports that extract of ginger suppresses inflammatory cytokines and chemokines produced by synoviocytes, chondrocytes, and leukocytes (Ali et al., 2008). Dry ginger has been applied in traditional medicine for long time alleviating the symptoms of GIT (Gastrointestinal) illnesses (Afzal et al., 2001). Ginger has been reported to be effective in preventing post-operative nausea and vomiting in humans (Phillips et al., 1993b). Singletary (2010) claims that ginger is effective in improving nausea and vomiting induced by pregnancy, surgery, chemotherapy and motion sickness. Mahady et al. (2003) first claimed that the active constituents of gingerols are effective in vitroagainst Helicobacter pylori, which is the key etiological factor associated with dyspepsia, peptic ulcer disease and development of gastric and colon cancer. Kim et al. (2007) report that [6]-gingerol has strong anti-oxidant action in vivo and in vitro, and in addition having a strong anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic actions. Li et al. (2012) state that ginger has antioxidant and anticoagulation properties and can decrease pain. Several ginger and other drug associations have been reported in the studies. Many drug interactions can be dangerous, in particular the interactions that alter anticoagulant effects of warfarin may be acute and life threatening (Wells et al., 1994). Some literatures examined the potential interactions of warfarin with four common dietary supplements: garlic, ginger, ginkgo, and ginseng. Weidner and Sigwart (2000) and Vaes and Chyka (2000) report that ginger does not react with the anti-coagulant drug warfarin in humans. Jagetia et al. (2003) reports that ginger extract (10 mg/kg) has anti-microbial activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella typhimurium, Eschericia coli and Candila albicans. According to Ali et al. (2008) and Arablou & Aryaeian (2018) the most important pharmacological actions of ginger and compounds include immune-modulatory, anti-tumorigenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, anti-hyperglycemic, anti-lipidemic and anti-emetic actions. Ginger is a strong anti-oxidant substance and may prevent or mitigate generation of free radicals (Ali et al., 2008). It is respected as a safe herbal medicine with only a few and insignificant adverse side effects.


Toxicological properties of ginger



Therefore, ginger is considered safe herbal medicine (Arablou & Aryaeian, 2018) when used appropriately. The American food and drug authority recognised ginger as a GRAS – “Generally Recognized As Safe ”ingredient (Singletary, 2010). According to literature reviews, only few adverse effects have been associated with the intake of ginger in humans. Rare side effects of ginger include mild digestive disorders, heartburn, and diarrhea (Singletory, 2010; Arablou & Aryaeian, 2018). In doses higher than 6 g may act as a gastric irritant. Inhalation of dust from ginger may cause IGE-mediated allergy (Chrubasik et al., 2005). Hence, the present literature review presented and commented on the publications that have been published on ginger and it’s constituents in the last several decades or so. This paper presented an example of how it is possible to explain the traditional medicine of ginger in terms of conventional biochemistry and pharmacology. In the paper, it was presented that ginger has strong anti-oxidant properties. Ginger and its chemical constituents have been demonstrated, in a number of clinical settings, to be applicable in combating post-operative vomiting. It will be worth investigating the effect of ginger on vomiting during cancer chemotherapy and its constituents effect on anti-cancer actions. In general, ginger is considered to be a very safe herbal medicine with only few and insignificant adverse side effects. Further studies in humans are required to establish the efficacy of ginger and it’s constituents.




1. Afzal, M., Al-Hadidi, D., Menon, M., Pesek, J., Dhami, M. S. (2001). Ginger: An ethnomedical, chemical and pharmacological review. Drug Metab. Drug Interact. 18, 159-190.

2. Ali Bh, Blunden G, Tanira Mo, Nemmar A. Some phytochemical, pharmacological and toxicological properties of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe): A review of recent research. Food and Chemical toxicology: an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association. 2008: 46(2):409-20.

3. Arablou, T., & Aryaeian, N. (2018). The effect of ginger (Zingiber Officinale) as an ancient medicinal plant on improving blood lipids. Journal of Herbal Medicine. 12, 11-15.

4. Carlier, C., Michaux, C. (2003). Dual inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) as a new strategy to provide safer non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. European Journal of Medical Chemistry, 38, 645-659.

5. Chrubasik, S., Pittler, M. H., Roufogalis, B. D., (2005). Zingiberis rhizome: a comprehensive review on the ginger effect and efficacy profiles. Phytomedicine, 12, 684-701.

6. Flynn, D. L. Rafferty, M. F., Boctor, A. M., (1968). Inhibition of human neutrophil 5-lipoxygenase activity by gingerdione, shogaol, capsaicin and related pungent compounds. Postaglandins Leukot. Med.24, 195-198.

7. Grant, K. L., Lutz, R. B. (2000). Alternative therapies: Ginger. Am. J. Health Syst. Pharm. 57, (10), 945-947.

8. Grzanna, R., Phan, P., Polotsky, A., Lindmark, L., Frondoza, C. G. (2004). Ginger extract inhibits beta-amyloid peptide-induced cytokine and chemokine expression in cultured THP-1 monocytes. Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine, 10, 1009-1013.

9. Jagetia, G. C., Baliga, M. S., Venkatesh, P., Ulloor, J. N. (2003). Influence of ginger rhizome (Zingiber officinaleRosc.) on survival, glutathione and lipid peroxidation in mice after whole-body exposure to gamma radiation. Radiat. Res.160, 584-592.

10. Kim, J. K., Kim, Y., Na, K. M., Surh, Y. J., Kim, T. Y. (2007). [6]-Gingerol prevents UVB-induced ROS production and COX-2 expression in vitroand in vivo. Free Radic. Res 41, 603-614.

11. Kiuchi, F., Iwakami, S., Shibuya, M., Hanaoka, F., Sankawa, U. (1992). Inhibition of prostaglandin and lukotrine biosynthesis by gingerols and diarylheptanoids. Chemical Pharmacy Bulletin (Tokyo), 30, 754-757.

12. Li, Y., Tran, V., Duke, C., & Roufogalis, B. (2012). Preventive and protective properties of Zingiber officinale (ginger) in diabetes mellitus, diabetic complications, and associated lipid and other metablic disorders: A brief review. Based Complement Altern. Med.

13. Mahady, G. B., Pendland, S. L., Yun, G. S., Lu, Z. Z., Stoia, A. (2003). Ginger (Zingiber officinaleRoscoe) and the gingerols inhibit the growth of Cag A+ strains of Helicobacter pylori. Anticancer Res. 23, 3699-3702.

14. Martel-Pelletier, J., Lajeunesse, D., Reboul, P., Pelletier, J. P. (2003). Therapeutic role of dual inhibitors of 5-LOX and COX, selective and non-selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Annuaul Rheum. Disc. 62, 501-509.

15. Naderi, Z., Mozaffari-Khosravi, H., Dehghan, A., Nadjarzadeh, A., & Fallah-Huseini, H. (2015). Effect of ginger powder supplementation on nitric oxide and C-reactive protein in elderly knee osteoarthritis patients: a 12-week double-blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. J. Tradit. Complement. Med. 1-5.

16. Phillips, S., Ruggier, R. (1993b). Zingiber officinaledoes not affect gastric emptying rate. A randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. Anaesthesia, 48, 393-395.

17. Rahnama P, Montazeri A, Huseini HF, Kianbakht, S, Naseri M. Effect of Zingiber officinale R. rhizomes (ginger) on pain relief in primary dysmenorrhea: a placebo randomized trial. BMC Complement Altem Med. 2012, 12-92.

18. Shao X, Lv L, Parks, T, Wu H, Ho Ct, Sang S. Quantitative analysis of ginger components in commericial products using liquid chromatography with electrochemical array detection. Journal of Aric Food Chem, 2010, 58(24):12608-14.

19. Singletary, K. (2010. Ginger and overview of health benefits. Nutr. Today45 (4), 171-183.

20. Singh, A., Duggal, S., Singh, J., & Katekhaye, S. (2010). Experimental advances in pharmacology of ginger and analogues. Pharm. Globale1, (2).

21. Thomson, M., Al-Qattan, K. K., Al-Sawan, S. M., Alnaqeeb, M. A., Khan, I., Ali, M. (2002). The use of ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) as a potential anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic agent. Postragladins Leukot Essent. Fatty Acit, 67, 475-478.

22. Vaes, L. P., Chyka, P. A. (2000). Interactions of warfarin with garlic, ginger, ginko, or ginseng: Nature of the evidence. Annual Pharmacotherapy, 34, 1478-1482.

23. Vasanthi, H., Parameswari, R. P. (2010). Indian spices for healthy heart – an overview. Curr. Cardiol. Revi.6, 274-279.

24. Weinder, M. S., Sigwart, K. (2001). Investigation of the teratogenic potential of a Zingiber officinaleextract in the rat. Reprod. Toxicol., 1575-1580.

25. Wells, P. S., Holbrook, A. M., Crowther, N. R., Hirsh, J. (1994). Interactions of warfarin with drugs and food. Annual Internal Medicine, 121, 676-683.

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