Botanical plants and natural remedies are used worldwide to provide flavor or spice to our food. Commonly, we forget that food is medicine- even better, it prevents and reverses diseases. The clinical application of multiple plants has resulted in positive outcomes when treating kidney disease by promoting detoxifying mechanisms and up-regulating nuclear transcriptional factors. Between these ancient remedies, ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) has been extensively applied as a promoter of gut health, anti-diabetic anti-hypertensive, with or without other bioactive compounds agent, as well as a potent anti-inflammatory.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe)
Ginger is commonly found in local markets as a root-like plant. It belongs to the family of Zingiberaceaeand, which originated in South-East Asia. Consequently, it is used in traditional herbal medicine due to its rhizome and is used as a spice in food for its fresh but spicy flavor. Besides this, ginger has been studied for its hepatoprotective properties due to its high concentration of phenolic acids such as gingerol and shogaols.
Indeed, 6-shogaol is the primary phenolic compound found in ginger. This component has been linked to the protection against oxidative stress in HepG2 cells. Also, 6-shogaol is an efficient Nrf2 inducer. On the other hand, 6-gingerol has proven to have a powerful antioxidant effect. Therefore, by merging these bioactive compounds’ properties, ginger has been attributed to have detoxifying functions.
Clinical application of Ginger
The clinical approaches of ginger appear to be varied and well studied. Its anti-inflammatory effects lead to the prevention and reversal of multiple diseases.
As a traditional herb, commonly used in botanical medicine for thousands of years, ginger has been used to treat gastrointestinal disease, rheumatoid disorders, also as an analgesic, antipyretic, chemopreventive agent. Besides this, ginger has been used as an antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory due to its ability to inhibit prostaglandin biosynthesis.
However, ginger extract supplementation has resulted in lower AST, ALT, and lipid peroxidation related to liver damage. Indeed, specifically, 6-shagaol-rich ginger extract is considered an antioxidant agent. The supplementation of this component is associated with an up-regulation of antioxidant enzymes such as SOD, GPx, and CAT and the preservation of GSH.
- Alcoholic Fatty Liver
The hepatoprotective effect of ginger has been tested on mice with AFLD with effective results. Recently, a study with C57BL/6 AFLD induced mice fed with ginger over 28 days resulted in an elevated concentration of antioxidant enzymes: catalase, superoxide peroxidase, glutathione reductase, and glutathione peroxidase. However, the AFLD-induced group showed higher triglycerides, total cholesterol, ALT, and AST compared with the control group. Furthermore, after the 28-day supplementation with ginger extract levels, these hepatic markers were recovered from normal ranges.
Ginger extract, specifically 6-shogaol, has been attributed to chemoprotective effects. Recently, a study with oral cancer-induced rats measured the effectiveness of 6-shagoal properties on 7,12-Dymethylbenz(a) anthracene (DMBA). The study consisted of 6 groups with six rats each, and group 1 was the control group treated with liquid paraffin. Group 2,3,4, and 5 were painted with DMBA thrice a week for 16 weeks until tumors started to show. Further, these three groups were supplemented with 6-shagoal at a dose of 10,20 and 40mg/kg. Lastly, group 6 received 6-shagoal at a dose of 40mg/Kg.
The final result showed exciting information. Indeed, phase I detoxification enzymes on the treated groups were significantly elevated. On the other hand, phase II biotransformation enzymes were drastically decreased in those groups treated with DMBA. Lastly, ginger’s supplementation on groups 2,3,4, and 5 resulted in a down-regulation of phase I enzymes and phase II enzymes’ activity. However, the 20mg/kg showed increased proficiency compared with the 10 and 40mg/kg ginger supplemented groups.
Also, the anti-inflammatory effects of ginger have been vastly recognized. Ginger extract supplementation can inhibit the expression of NFKaB and TNF-a in rats with liver cancer.
Nrf2 and shogaol
Nuclear factor-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a regulator of cellular homeostasis, and it works as a redox-responsive factor. Besides, the induction of this transcription factor is linked with the prevention of hepatotoxicity. Furthermore, the Nrf2 depends on Kelch-like ECH-associated protein1 (Keap1)-Cul3 E3 ubiquitin ligase complex, which acts as a modulator and mediates the degradation of Nrf2. Consequently, when oxidative stress is present, the complex formed between (Keap1)-Cul3 and Nrf2 goes through a conformational change, which activates Nrf2. The started form of Nrf2 can translocate to the nucleus and binds to the antioxidant response element (ARE), located in the promoter region of Nrf2 genes.
Furthermore, the dimer formed by ARE and Nrf2 promotes a cascade reaction of activated detoxification and antioxidant enzymes. Consequently, ginger’s bioactive compounds react with (Keap1)-Cul3 cysteine residues, resulting in a diminished tagging of Nrf2, therefore, a reduced (Keap1)-Cul3- induced proteolysis of Nrf2. This enhanced and prolonged action of Nrf2 will generate a cascade of antioxidant enzymes and cytoprotective proteins to metabolize xenobiotics.
Detox and body composition
There are no clinical trials that link the anti-inflammatory effects of ginger with weight-loss or as a muscle promoter. Nevertheless, the American Heart Association recommends maintaining a normal weight for the prevention of several chronic diseases. Anthropometric measurement and body composition analysis may allow patients to follow this recommendation.
Ginger is commonly used as a spice. It is very easy to find it all around the different plates served in Asian culture. Now it has been integrated into the occidental cuisine as a flavor promoter. Regardless of its pungent taste, herbal medicine has used it through centuries to treat fungal infections. Nowadays, ginger is known for its chemoprotective effects, antioxidant properties, and hepatoprotective agent. The inclusion of ginger in our diet can be as simple as dropping a piece of the bark into our smoothies or drinking ginger tea.-Ana Paola R. Arciniega. Master in Clinical Nutrition
From your kitchen to your genes:
Ginger and lime tea:
Medium bark of ginger, peeled.
Lime, cut in slices
In a kettle, add the three ingredients and bring them to a boil,
Once the tea is ready, pour it into a cup and enjoy! You can drink it hot or cold.
Bak, Min-Ji, et al. “6-shogaol-rich extract from ginger up-regulates the antioxidant defense systems in cells and mice.” Molecules 17.7 (2012): 8037-8055.
Liu, Chun-Ting, et al. “Metabolomics of ginger essential oil against alcoholic fatty liver in mice.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 61.46 (2013): 11231-11240.
Saleh, Mohammed Yerima, et al. “Herbal detox extract formulation from seven wonderful natural herbs: Garlic, Ginger, Honey, Carrots, Aloe Vera, Dates, & Corn.” Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Development 7.3 (2019): 22-30.
Vipin, A. V., et al. “Protective effects of phenolics rich extract of ginger against Aflatoxin B1-induced oxidative stress and hepatotoxicity.” Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy 91 (2017): 415-424.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, CTG*
email: [email protected]
Licensed in Texas & New Mexico