Common Ginger

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Zingiber officinale rhizome Zingiber officinale plant

Description: Zingiber officinale Roscoe is an herbaceous plant that grows up to 1.2 m high and with an underground rhizome. The stem grows above ground and leaves are narrow, long, lanceolate, with distinct venation pattern and pointed apex. Flowers are white or yellowish-green, streaked with purple and fragrant.[1]

Origin: Originate from tropical Asia, widely cultivated in the tropics.[2]

Phytoconstituents: Gingerol, zingiberene, farnesene, camphene, neral, nerol, 1,8-cineole, geranial, geraniol, geranyl acetate and others.[3-7]

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Ginger is the folk remedy for anaemia, nephritis, tuberculosis, and antidote to Arisaema and Pinellia.[8] Sialogogue when chewed, causes sneezing when inhaled and rubefacient when applied externally. Antidotal to mushroom poisoning, ginger peel is used for opacity of the cornea. The juice is used as a digestive stimulant and local application in ecchymoses.[8] Underground stem is used to treat stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, nose bleeds, rheumatism, coughs, blood in stools, to improve digestion, expel intestinal gas, and stimulate appetite.[9] The rhizomes are used to treat bleeding, chest congestion, cholera, cold, diarrhoea, dropsy, dysmenorrhoea, nausea, stomachache, and also for baldness, cancer, rheumatism, snakebite and toothache.[8] It is also used as postpartum protective medicine, treatment for dysentery, treatment for congestion of the liver, complaints with the urino-genital system/female reproduction system and sinus.[10] Besides that, it is used to alleviate nausea, as a carminative, circulatory stimulant and to treat inflammation and bacterial infection.[3] The Commision E approved the internal use of ginger for dyspepsia and prevention of motion sickness.[11] The British Herbal Compendium indicates ginger for atonic dyspepsia, colic, vomiting of pregnancy, anorexia, bronchitis and rheumatic complaints.1[12] European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP) indicates its use for prophylaxis of the nausea and vomiting of motion sickness and to alleviate nausea after minor surgical procedures.[13]

Pharmacological Activities: Analgesic,[14-16] Anthelmintic,[17] Antiarthritic,[18] Anticancer/19-33 Antidiabetic/34'33 Antidiarrhoeal,[36] Antiemetic/37-53 Antihyperlipidaemic,[54] Antihypertensive,[55] Anti-inflammatory,[141556-66] Antimicrobial/67-73 Antioxidant,®7,79-83 Antiplatelet/83-83 Antispasmodic,[88] Antiulcer,[89,90] Antiviral/91-93 Anxiolytic,[94] Hepatoprotective,[93-97]

Hypocholesterolaemic,[57,98,99] Hypoglycaemic,[14,100,101] Hypolipidaemic,[102]

Hypotensive,[103] Immunomodulatory/104-109 Neuroprotective/103 Insect repellent[69'108] and Radioprotective/109-113

Dosage: A tea is prepared by pouring boiling water over 0.5 to 1 g of the coarsely powdered ginger for 5 min and passing through a tea strainer, taken to prevent vomitting.[112]

Adverse Reactions: Fresh rhizome can be safely consumed with proper usage.[113] Contact dermatitis of the fingertips has been reported in sensitive patients.[114]

Toxicity: It is nontoxic when tested in rats[115] but overdose may cause cardiac arrhythmia and CNS depression.[116]

Contraindications: Consult physician before using ginger preparations in patients with blood coagulation disorders, taking anticoagulant drugs or with gallstones. Avoid dried rhizomes during pregnancy/113

Drug-Herb Interactions: Interacts with anticoagulants such as heparin, warfarin, drugs used in chemotherapy and ticlopidine. Ginger taken prior to 8-MOP (treatment for patients undergoing photopheresis) may substantially reduce nausea caused by 8-MOP.[117] Ginger appears to increase the risk of bleeding in patients taking warfarin.[118] However, ginger at recommended doses does not significantly affect clotting status, the pharmacokinetics or pharmacodynamics of warfarin in healthy subjects.[119] Ginger also significantly decreased the oral bioavailability of cyclosporine.[120]

[Authors' Note: Ginger is widely eaten as a food ingredient and used in many different cultures as traditional medicine. Ongoing scientific research has shown diverse pharmacological activities.]

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