Ginger is an amazing herb and it’s loaded with various nutrients that have multiple health benefits. It is a flowering plant that originates from Southeast Asia, and it has been used for thousands of years thanks to its taste and therapeutic properties. It can be consumed fresh, dried, powdered, as a juice or oil, and it’s also added to processed foods and cosmetics. Its main compound is gingerol, which has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidative properties. (Source)
Here are just some of the amazing health benefits of this herb:
- It is highly effective against nausea (Source)
- It relieves nausea and vomiting after surgery (Source) and in cancer patients who go through chemotherapy (Source)
- It reduces morning sickness in pregnant women (Source)
- It reduces muscle pain and soreness (Source)
- It reduces pain in those suffering from osteoarthritis (Source)
- It lowers fasting blood sugar (Source)
- It reduces the risk of heart disease (Source)
- It may treat chronic indigestion (Source)
- It reduces menstrual pain (Source)
- It may lower cholesterol (Source)
- It may prevent cancer (Source) and also may help in treating pancreatic, breast and ovarian cancers (Source 1 , Source 2)
- It may improve brain function (Source) and protect against Alzheimer’s disease (Source)
- It fights infections and various types of bacteria (Source)
Ginger in Cancer Prevention and Treatment
But what we want to focus on today is the ability of ginger to prevent cancer and even to treat it. A study held in 2015 showed that the 6-shogaol compound found in ginger is better than chemotherapy in targeting cancer stem cells in breast cancer. (Source)
These cells are basically the root of multiple types of cancers, and they are also known as “mother cells”. These cells have the ability to self-renew, to split off and create new tumor colonies and they are also resistant to chemotherapy.
So in order to cure cancer for good, these cancer stem cells should be destroyed. This study has shown that ginger has powerful anti-cancer stem cell properties, thanks to its 6-shogaol ingredient. The study also shows that these positive effects occurred at concentrations that are not toxic to healthy cells.
Chemotherapy as Cancer Treatment
This can’t be said about chemotherapy, which affects healthy cells as well and can do a lot of harm to patients. The study found that ginger targets breast cancer in multiple ways, reducing the expression of cancer stem cells, affecting their cell cycle, increasing cancer cell death, inducing autophagy, inhibiting breast cancer spheroid formation and by killing monolayer and spheroid cancer cells. (Source)
6-shagoal found in ginger proved to be way more efficient than taxol (a common chemotherapeutic agent). While some cancers can be treated through surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, these methods do not eliminate the cancer stem cells. (Source)
This allows them to regrow the tumors, now being more powerful and more invasive than before. Taxol didn’t have any effect against spheroids even when it was increased 10,000 times, but 6-shagoal did. This makes ginger a clear winner in destroying the root cause of tumor malignancy. (Source)
Unlike synthetically produced chemicals that are causing a lot of harm to the human body, natural products like ginger, curcumin or green tea have passed the test of time, being used for thousands of years and accepted by the human body.
This study supports the idea that ginger is far superior to chemotherapy and radiation when it comes to destroying cancer stem cells. But it’s definitely not the only one supporting this idea.
Chapter 7 of the “Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects (2nd edition)” talks about “The Amazing and Mighty Ginger”. This chapter presents in details the amazing antioxidant properties of ginger, its anti-inflammatory effects, its antinausea benefits and most important of all, its anticarcinogenic properties.
Multiple studies have looked at how different forms of ginger (either crude, partially purified extracts or gingerols, shogaols and zerumbone) can help to prevent or suppress cancer growth. This is because all of these compounds have “antioxidant activity and the ability to induce apoptosis, decrease proliferation, cause cell-cycle arrest, and suppress activator protein 1 (AP-1) and NF-κB/COX-2 signaling pathways”. (Source)
Researchers have also found that many compounds in ginger have anticancer properties because of their ability to inhibit EBV-EA (TPA-induced Epstein-Barr virus early antigen) in Raji cells. Further technical details can be found in the study, but the conclusion is simple: ginger and its components can inhibit cancer tumors and suppress their proliferation for multiple types of cancer.
Besides all of this, ginger contains high amounts of vitamin C, magnesium and other minerals, boosting immunity and helping in the treatment and prevention of colds. Ginger tea is one of the best ways of reaping the many benefits of this herb. Lemon and ginger tea is an excellent drink for boosting energy, immunity and preventing cancer.
So ginger is not just a popular condiment used in many dishes all over the world, but it’s also a medicinal herb used for thousands of years for its amazing properties. It includes hundreds of compounds and metabolites, with various health benefits.
Among them, gingerols and shogaols are the most important and the ones that were researched the most. While more studies are needed regarding the effects of consuming ginger over a long period of time, the studies made so far are very conclusive for the multiple health benefits of this herb, including its ability to prevent or treat cancer.
Scientists still need to find out if certain compounds (such as 6-gingerol) have these amazing benefits by themselves, or they are dependent on other components in the whole food to bring the most benefits.
It can reduce nausea, prevent colon cancer, act as a great antioxidant, it has amazing anti-inflammatory effects and it reduces pain and swelling. Studies have shown that it’s even more effective than vitamin B6 in reducing vomiting and nausea caused by pregnancy, surgery or chemotherapy.
Ginger was also found to reduce cholesterol and improve fat metabolism (thus helping in weight loss as well), but also reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Overall it appears to be safe for most people and its effects on multiple major health issues are amazing.
I personally implement ginger in my daily green juice routine. How about you? How do you use ginger in your daily lifestyle?
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