Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) is a member of the Zingiberaceae family of plants. It has been a part of healing strategies in Asia, India, Europe, and the Middle East for centuries for treatment of such disorders as arthritis, stomach upset, asthma, diabetes, and menstrual irregularities, to name a few. There is scientific support that ginger may alleviate the symptoms of nausea and vomiting following pregnancy, surgery, cancer therapy, or motion sickness and suggestive evidence that ginger reduces inflammation and pain. Cell culture studies show that ginger has antioxidant properties. However, it is not known whether ginger antioxidant constituents are bioavailable in humans once ingested and whether they can affect markers of oxidative stress in human in vivo. There are preliminary data that ginger has antimicrobial potential, although there is little evidence supporting ginger's practical usefulness in combating infections in humans. Based on evidence primarily from animal and in vitro studies, ginger may have beneficial effects toward cardiovascular disease through its multiple actions counteracting inflammation, hyperlipidemia, platelet aggregation, and hypertension. Overall, based on the current body of scientific literature, more information is needed from clinical studies to confirm these promising multiple health benefits of ginger in human subjects and the doses that are most efficacious
A spice with a healthy twist
Keith Singletary, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois. From 2001 to 2004, he was the director of the Functional Foods for Health Program, an interdisciplinary program between the Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses of the University of Illinois. Dr Singletary received a bachelor's and master's degrees in microbiology from Michigan State University and his PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Illinois. Dr Singletary's primary research interests are in molecular carcinogenesis and cancer chemoprevention, specifically identifying and determining the mechanism of action of phytochemicals in fruits, vegetables, and spices as cancer-protective agents. He also investigated the biological basis behind the role of alcohol intake in enhancing breast carcinogenesis. In 2003, he was recognized with the Senior Faculty Award for Excellence in Research by the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois. In 2006, he was recognized with the Outstanding Graduate Mentor/Advisor award from the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Dr Singletary currently resides in Florida, serves on several committees of the Florida Division of the American Cancer Society, and consults on issues related to diet and health.
Funding for this article was provided by the McCormick Science Institute.
Correspondence: Keith Singletary, PhD, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801 (firstname.lastname@example.org).