Ginger, or Zingiber officinale in Latin, is used as a natural remedy in eastern medicine for a very long time. It is especially effective when treating vertigo and nausea and can also improve appetite. In the past two decades, the plant’s anticancer and antioxidant properties have been discovered. But the most important discovery was ginger’s effect on cancer cells.
Anticancer properties of ginger
A study conducted by the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center shows that ginger prevents proliferation of cancer cells and improves the effect of other treatments. The active substances in ginger are not yet discovered, but paradols, gingerols and shogaols probably play the main role. These are phytochemicals found in low concentrations in ginger root, so supplements with extracts of ginger root are produced to improve the effect.
Ginger and prostate cancer
In one of the studies, tests on mice were run to discover the effects of ginger on prostate cancer development. Ginger extract in daily doses of 100mg\kg was used and the results were great. They showed that ginger decreased the growth and slowed the prostate cancer progression in 56% of the cases! The tumor cells were treated with ginger extract in vivo and in vitro. There weren’t any side effects.
Ginger and breast cancer
Another study examined the effect of ginger on breast cancer cells. The results were again great: besides killing the cancer cells, ginger diminished a few important signal molecules responsible for the metastatic and spreading properties of the tumor. More studies are required, but ginger certainly has future as an effective treatment of breast cancer.
Ginger and ovarian cancer
Ginger didn’t spare the ovarian cancer cells in one of the recent studies. The cells underwent apoptosis (programed cell death) due to the phytochemicals in ginger. Besides anticancer activity, ginger supplements are recommended to patients undergoing chemotherapy.
To summarize: ginger has future as a cancer treatment option due to its effectiveness on different types of cancer. Further studies will reveal exactly what substances need to be extracted from ginger and in what doses they can be used.
How to use ginger as a medicine
All these studies propose that frequently consuming ginger as part of a healthy diet may prevent cancer from developing. You can consume no more than four grams ginger daily, and if you’re pregnant, no more than one gram daily is recommended.
Nordqvist, C. (2006, April 17). “Ginger Kills Ovarian Cancer Cells.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/41747.php.
Karna, P., Chagani, S., Gundala, S. R., Rida, P. C. G., Asif, G., Sharma, V., … Aneja, R. (2012). Benefits of whole ginger extract in prostate cancer. The British Journal of Nutrition, 107(4), 473–484. http://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114511003308
Elkady, A. I., Abuzinadah, O. A., Baeshen, N. A., & Rahmy, T. R. (2012). Differential Control of Growth, Apoptotic Activity, and Gene Expression in Human Breast Cancer Cells by Extracts Derived from Medicinal Herbs Zingiber officinale. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, 2012, 614356.http://doi.org/10.1155/2012/614356