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Critical reviews in food science and nutrition

Update on the chemopreventive effects of ginger and its phytochemicals.


PMID 21929329

Abstract

The rhizomes of Zingiber officinale Roscoe (Zingiberaceae), commonly known as ginger, is one of the most widely used spice and condiment. It is also an integral part of many traditional medicines and has been extensively used in Chinese, Ayurvedic, Tibb-Unani, Srilankan, Arabic, and African traditional medicines, since antiquity, for many unrelated human ailments including common colds, fever, sore throats, vomiting, motion sickness, gastrointestinal complications, indigestion, constipation, arthritis, rheumatism, sprains, muscular aches, pains, cramps, hypertension, dementia, fever, infectious diseases, and helminthiasis. The putative active compounds are nonvolatile pungent principles, namely gingerols, shogaols, paradols, and zingerone. These compounds are some of the extensively studied phytochemicals and account for the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiemetic, and gastroprotective activities. A number of preclinical investigations with a wide variety of assay systems and carcinogens have shown that ginger and its compounds possess chemopreventive and antineoplastic effects. A number of mechanisms have been observed to be involved in the chemopreventive effects of ginger. The cancer preventive activities of ginger are supposed to be mainly due to free radical scavenging, antioxidant pathways, alteration of gene expressions, and induction of apoptosis, all of which contribute towards decrease in tumor initiation, promotion, and progression. This review provides concise information from preclinical studies with both cell culture models and relevant animal studies by focusing on the mechanisms responsible for the chemopreventive action. The conclusion describes directions for future research to establish its activity and utility as a human cancer preventive and therapeutic drug. The above-mentioned mechanisms of ginger seem to be promising for cancer prevention; however, further clinical studies are warranted to assess the efficacy and safety of ginger.

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