The 6+1 Reasons to Be Zesftful for Zingiber


Now that the Halloween festivities have passed and the fall of 2014 is drifting into a fond memory, it’s time to think about the upcoming holidays. For me, this conjures up memories of yummy warm drinks, smells of gluten-free baked treats (I have Celiac disease), and gatherings with my family sitting around (safe) cozy fires.

Being inside more means inhaling more stale air, so are you diffusing!? I know I am and I will be enjoying the sweet and warming smells of my favorite spice oils. These essential oils will support me during the holiday season by oxygenating my geeky brain, supporting my immune system, and helping to keep me calm amongst the holiday bustle.

So, the day after trick-or-treating, I was resting a bit at my computer (flux on) and gathering some studies to write a “quick” synopsis for all my lovely readers on the science behind one of my favorite spices, ginger.

As I grabbed my ginger tea for inspiration, sighed contentedly….



Playing a tough basketball game.


Another whiplash moment from the hits I got on PubMed.

Check out what I ran into:

Pubmed search: Zingiber officinal

Results: 1 to 20 of 2203


Pubmed search: Zingiber officinal oil

Results: 1 to 20 of 170


Now, here’s the real kicker…

I “Dr. Google” ginger and I get about 249,000 results (0.29 seconds)

Ginger oil gets about 167, 000 results (0.60 seconds) 

Add in my Green Med Info account, and that’s a lot of information on ginger!


Below are some of my top picks for ginger, the herb, extract, and essential oil, as I ferociously skimming through the articles.

Feel free to go through the other 400000+ at your leisure. ;-D


6 +1 Reasons to Become Zestful with Zingiber

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Reason #1- Studies Show It Squelches Survival in Cancer Cell Lines

Ginger has been shown to have a lot of actions against cancer cell lines in various studies. According to a summary in Green Med Info:

They discovered that ginger was capable of positively modulating a surprisingly wide range of molecular mechanisms simultaneously, such as:

  • Induction of apoptosis (programmed cell death)
  • Upregulation of Bax (a pro-apoptosis gene)
  • Downregulation of Bcl-2 proteins (cancer-associated)
  • Downregulation of prosurvival genes NF-?B, Bcl-X, Mcl-1, and Survivin
  • Downregulation of cell cycle-regulating proteins, including cyclin D1 and cyclin-dependent kinase-4 (CDK-4). (cancer-associated)
  • Increased expression of CDK inhibitor, p21 (anti-cancer associated)
  • Inhibition of c-Myc, hTERT (cancer-associated) (1)


Here’s the full abstract:

The present study aimed to examine the antiproliferative potentiality of an extract derived from the medicinal plant ginger (Zingiber officinale) on growth of breast cancer cells. Ginger treatment suppressed the proliferation and colony formation in breast cancer cell lines, MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231. Meanwhile, it did not significantly affect viability of nontumorigenic normal mammary epithelial cell line (MCF-10A). Treatment of MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 with ginger resulted in sequences of events marked by apoptosis, accompanied by loss of cell viability, chromatin condensation, DNA fragmentation, activation of caspase 3, and cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase. At the molecular level, the apoptotic cell death mediated by ginger could be attributed in part to upregulation of Bax and downregulation of Bcl-2 proteins. Ginger treatment downregulated expression of prosurvival genes, such as NF-?B, Bcl-X, Mcl-1, and Survivin, and cell cycle-regulating proteins, including cyclin D1 and cyclin-dependent kinase-4 (CDK-4). On the other hand, it increased expression of CDK inhibitor, p21. It also inhibited the expression of the two prominent molecular targets of cancer, c-Myc and the human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT). These findings suggested that the ginger may be a promising candidate for the treatment of breast carcinomas. (2)
The following study offers support to the first study on ginger’s effect on cancer cell lines. Here the researchers explored various mechanisms of action of the phenolic compound in ginger, [6]-gingerol, on two human prostate cancer cell lines. (2)

The abstract with the alphabet soup below is explaining to in geek terms (ahhh) the various signaling pathways it modulates favorably regarding cellular growth, progression, and cell arrest. It even includes a neat PI3K/AKT/MTOR pathway. (I call this the ping-pong pathway because there are so many side tracks!)

[6]-Gingerol, a major phenolic compound derived from ginger, has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor activities. While several molecular mechanisms have been described to underlie its effects on cells in vitro and in vivo, the underlying mechanisms by which [6]-gingerol exerts anti-tumorigenic effects are largely unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate the action of [6]-gingerol on two human pancreatic cancer cell lines, HPAC expressing wild- type (wt) p53 and BxPC-3 expressing mutated p53. We found that [6]-gingerol inhibited the cell growth through cell cycle arrest at G1 phase in both cell lines. Western blot analyses indicated that [6]-gingerol decreased both Cyclin A and Cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) expression. These events led to reduction in Rb phosphorylation followed by blocking of S phase entry. p53 expression was decreased by [6]-gingerol treatment in both cell lines suggesting that the induction of Cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, p21cip1, was p53-independent. [6]-Gingerol induced mostly apoptotic death in the mutant p53-expressing cells, while no signs of early apoptosis were detected in wild type p53-expressing cells and this was related to the increased phosphorylation of AKT. These results suggest that [6]-gingerol can circumvent the resistance of mutant p53- expressing cells towards chemotherapy by inducing apoptotic cell death while it exerts cytostatic effect on wild type p53- expressing cells by inducing temporal growth arrest. (3)


Now, in vitro study says..

According to the British Journal of Nutrition, studies with rodents support the in vitro cell line studies.

(Don’t worry-this is not an “adult rated” study, “nude mice” just means a laboratory animal from a strain with a genetic mutation that causes it to have a compromised immune system).

It is appreciated far and wide that increased and regular consumption of fruits and vegetables is linked with noteworthy anticancer benefits. Extensively consumed as a spice in foods and beverages worldwide, ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) is an excellent source of several bioactive phenolics, including non-volatile pungent compounds such as gingerols, paradols, shogaols and gingerones. Ginger has been known to display anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiproliferative activities, indicating its promising role as a chemopreventive agent. Here, we show that whole ginger extract (GE) exerts significant growth-inhibitory and death-inductory effects in a spectrum of prostate cancer cells. Comprehensive studies have confirmed that GE perturbed cell-cycle progression, impaired reproductive capacity, modulated cell-cycle and apoptosis regulatory molecules and induced a caspase-driven, mitochondrially mediated apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells. Remarkably, daily oral feeding of 100 mg/kg body weight of GE inhibited growth and progression of PC-3 xenografts by approximately 56 % in nude mice, as shown by measurements of tumour volume. Tumour tissue from GE-treated mice showed reduced proliferation index and widespread apoptosis compared with controls, as determined by immunoblotting and immunohistochemical methods. Most importantly, GE did not exert any detectable toxicity in normal, rapidly dividing tissues such as gut and bone marrow. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report to demonstrate the in vitro and in vivo anticancer activity of whole GE for the management of prostate cancer. (4)


PageLines- forms-icon.pngReason #2- It May Help With Knee Discomfort

This is a double-blind, placebo controlled, study to show support for ginger with helping out some uncomfortable people with knee pain…

OBJECTIVES: To assess the efficacy of an aromatic essential oil (1% Zingiber officinale and 0.5% Citrus sinesis) massage among the elderly with moderate-to-severe knee pain.

METHOD: Fifty-nine older persons were enrolled in a double-blind, placebo-controlled experimental study group from the Community Centre for Senior Citizens, Hong Kong. The intervention was six massage sessions with ginger and orange oil over a 3-week period. The placebo control group received the same massage intervention with olive oil only and the control group received no massage. Assessment was done at baseline, post 1-week and post 4 weeks after treatment. Changes from baseline to the end of treatment were assessed on knee pain intensity, stiffness level and physical functioning (by Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis index) and quality of life (by SF-36).

RESULTS: There were significant mean changes between the three time-points within the intervention group on three of the outcome measures: knee pain intensity (p=0.02); stiffness level (p=0.03); and enhancing physical function (p=0.04) but these were not apparent with the between-groups comparison (p=0.48, 0.14 and 0.45 respectively) 4 weeks after the massage. The improvement of physical function and pain were superior in the intervention group compared with both the placebo and the control group at post 1-week time (both p=0.03) but not sustained at post 4 weeks (p=0.45 and 0.29). The changes in quality of life were not statistically significant for all three groups.

CONCLUSION: The aroma-massage therapy seems to have potential as an alternative method for short-term knee pain relief. (5)


PageLines- forms-icon.pngReason #3- Ginger May Help PMS Symptoms

This 2014 study reports:

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common disorder. Although the etiology of PMS is not clear, to relieve from this syndrome different methods are recommended. One of them is use of medicinal herbs. This study was carried out to evaluate effects of ginger on severity of symptoms of PMS. This study was a clinical trial, double-blinded work, and participants were randomly allocated to intervention (n = 35) and control (n = 35) groups. To determine persons suffering from PMS, participants completed daily record scale questionnaire for two consecutive cycles. After identification, each participant received two ginger capsules daily from seven days before menstruation to three days after menstruation for three cycles and they recorded severity of the symptoms by daily record scale questionnaire. Data before intervention were compared with date 1, 2, and 3 months after intervention. Before intervention, there were no significant differences between the mean scores of PMS symptoms in the two groups, but after 1, 2, and 3 months of treatment, there was a significant difference between the two groups (P < 0.0001). Based on the results of this study, maybe ginger is effective in the reduction of severity of mood and physical and behavioral symptoms of PMS and we suggest ginger as treatment for PMS. (6)

Another recent study supported the use of ginger for heavy menstrual periods.


PageLines- forms-icon.pngReason #4- Supporting the Too Much Turkey Effect

Here’s how ginger may help with post-holiday haze:

  • Two of the studies I found reported on ginger’s role in reducing nausea and I know there are many more! (7-8)
  • Another study demonstrated it may be helpful in digesting fats. (Too much gravy?) (9) (See abstract sources below)
  • Finally, ginger oil was shown to have a protective effect on the gastric mucosa of rats with ulcers who took aspirin (silly rats!):

The present investigation was performed in aspirin and pylorus ligation-induced ulcer model in Wistar rats, in which ability of ginger oil to provide gastric protection was studied at two different doses, 0.5 and 1 g/kg po. Gastric protection was evaluated by measuring the ulcer index, serum gamma-GTP levels, total acidity of gastric juice and gastric wall mucus thickness. The results obtained in the present study indicated that ginger oil has a protective action against gastric ulcers induced by aspirin plus pylorus ligation in Wistar rats. (10)

PageLines- forms-icon.pngReason #5- Head Pain Relief

Now this was a favorite trial of mine. It ompared ginger to a migraine medicine, sumatriptan:

Frequency and torment caused by migraines direct patients toward a variety of remedies. Few studies to date have proposed ginger derivates for migraine relief. This study aims to evaluate the efficacy of ginger in the ablation of common migraine attack in comparison to sumatriptan therapy. In this double-blinded randomized clinical trial, 100 patients who had acute migraine without aura were randomly allocated to receive either ginger powder or sumatriptan. Time of headache onset, its severity, time interval from headache beginning to taking drug and patient self-estimation about response for five subsequent migraine attacks were recorded by patients. Patients(,) satisfaction from treatment efficacy and their willingness to continue it was also evaluated after 1?month following intervention. Two hours after using either drug, mean headaches severity decreased significantly. Efficacy of ginger powder and sumatriptan was similar. Clinical adverse effects of ginger powder were less than sumatriptan. Patients’ satisfaction and willingness to continue did not differ. The effectiveness of ginger powder in the treatment of common migraine attacks is statistically comparable to sumatriptan. Ginger also poses a better side effect profile than sumatriptan. (11)


PageLines- forms-icon.pngReason # 6- Fresh Ginger Showed Viral Killing Action in Respiratory Cell Lines

Here’s the abstract:

ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Ginger, Zingiber officinale Roscoe, is a common spice and also a widely used medicinal plant in ancient China. Ginger is an ingredient of Ge-Gen-Tang (Kakkon-to; GGT). GGT has been proved to have antiviral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV). However, it is unknown whether ginger is effective against HRSV.

AIM OF THE STUDY: To find a readily available agent to manage HRSV infection, the authors tested the hypothesis that ginger can effectively decrease HRSV-induced plaque formation in respiratory mucosal cell lines.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Effect of hot water extracts of fresh and dried gingers on HRSV was tested by plaque reduction assay in both human upper (HEp-2) and low (A549) respiratory tract cell lines. Ability of ginger to stimulate anti-viral cytokines was evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).

RESULTS: Fresh ginger dose-dependently inhibited HRSV-induced plaque formation in both HEp-2 and A549 cell lines (p<0.0001). In contrast, dried ginger didn’t show any dose-dependent inhibition. 300 ?g/ml fresh ginger could decrease the plaque counts to 19.7% (A549) and 27.0% (HEp-2) of that of the control group. Fresh ginger was more effective when given before viral inoculation (p<0.0001), particularly on A549 cells. 300 ?g/ml fresh ginger could decrease the plaque formation to 12.9% when given before viral inoculation. Fresh ginger dose-dependently inhibited viral attachment (p<0.0001) and internalization (p<0.0001). Fresh ginger of high concentration could stimulate mucosal cells to secrete IFN-? that possibly contributed to counteracting viral infection.

CONCLUSIONS: Fresh, but not dried, ginger is effective against HRSV-induced plaque formation on airway epithelium by blocking viral attachment and internalization. (12)


Bonus # 7 Reason to Use Zingiber for Zestful Living

I saved the best for last….

water drop

Ginger was not found to be toxic in 6 groups of Wistar rats! (Whoo-hoo! So, Mamma and Papa mouse are safe).

Zingiber officinale Roscoe, ginger, is a major spice extensively used in traditional medicine. The toxicity profile of ginger oil was studied by subchronic oral administration for 13 weeks at doses of 100, 250, and 500 mg/kg per day to 6 groups of Wistar rats (5/sex per dose). Separate groups of rats (5/sex per group) received either paraffin oil (vehicle) or were untreated and served as comparative control groups. There was no mortality and no decrease in body weight or food consumption as well as selective organ weights during the study period. Administration of ginger oil to rats did not produce any treatment-related changes in hematological parameters, hepatic, renal functions, serum electrolytes, or in histopathology of selected organs. The major component of ginger oil was found to be zingiberene (31.08%), and initial studies indicated the presence of zingiberene in the serum after oral dosing. These results confirmed that ginger oil is not toxic to male and female rats following subchronic oral administrations of up to 500 mg/kg per day (no observed adverse effect level [NOAEL]).


Now, don’t forget to skim through the other 400000+ abstracts in your spare time between turkey prep and holiday shopping! (Just kidding!)

How do you use ginger and ginger oil?



Girl on phone

(1) Ji, S. Research: Ginger Selectively Kills Breast Cancer Cells. GreenMedInfo. October 1, 2012.

(2) Differential Control of Growth, Apoptotic Activity, and Gene Expression in Human Breast Cancer Cells by Extracts Derived from Medicinal Herbs Zingiber officinaleJ Biomed Biotechnol. 2012; 2012: 614356.. doi: 10.1155/2012/614356

(3) [6]-Gingerol Induces Cell Cycle Arrest and Cell Death of Mutant p53-expressing Pancreatic Cancer Cells. Yonsei Med J. Oct 31, 2006; 47(5): 688–697. doi: 10.3349/ymj.2006.47.5.688

(4) Karna P, Chagani S, Gundala SR, Rida PC, Asif G, Sharma V, Gupta MV, Aneja R. Benefits of whole ginger extract in prostate cancer (abstract). Br J Nutr. 2012 Feb;107(4):473-84. Epub 2011 Aug 18.

(5) Yip YB1, Tam AC. An experimental study on the effectiveness of massage with aromatic ginger and orange essential oil for moderate-to-severe knee pain among the elderly in Hong Kong. Complement Ther Med. 2008 Jun;16(3):131-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2007.12.003. Epub 2008 Mar 4.

(6) Effect of treatment with ginger on the severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms. Obstet Gynecol. 2014 ;2014:792708. Epub 2014 May 4. PMID: 24944825

(7) Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces acute chemotherapy-induced nausea. Support Care Cancer. 2012 Jul ;20(7):1479-89. Epub 2011 Aug 5. PMID: 21818642

(8) Ginger and Vitamin B6 are both effective in treating naseau and vomiting in pregnancy. Midwifery. 2008 Feb 11. PMID: 18272271

(9) Dietary ginger and other spice compounds enhance fat digestion and absorption in high-fat fed situation through enhanced secretion of bile salts and a stimulation of the activity pancreatic lipase. J Sci Food Agric. 2011 Sep 14. Epub 2011 Sep 14. PMID: 21918995

(10) Khushtar M1, Kumar V, Javed K, Bhandari U. Protective Effect of Ginger oil on Aspirin and Pylorus Ligation-Induced Gastric Ulcer model in Rats. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2009 Sep;71(5):554-8. doi: 10.4103/0250-474X.58195.

(11) Ginger compares favorably to the drug sumatriptan for migraine headaches, but with lower side effects. Phytother Res. 2013 May 9. Epub 2013 May 9. PMID: 23657930#

(12) Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Nov 1. Epub 2012 Nov 1. PMID: 23123794

(13) Jeena K1, Liju VB, Kuttan R. A preliminary 13-week oral toxicity study of ginger oil in male and female Wistar rats. Int J Toxicol. 2011 Dec;30(6):662-70. doi: 10.1177/1091581811419023. Epub 2011 Sep 29


Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic, Grade A essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been AFNOR and ISO standardized. There is no quality control in the United States and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. Please consult the study for sources of the herb and oil.

This information is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness.

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