Plant Profiler

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Zingiber officinale
Synonyms / Common Names / Related Terms
African ginger, Amomum zingiber L., black ginger, bordia, chayenne ginger, cochin ginger, curcumin, EV.EXT35, gan jiang, gegibre, gingembre, ginger BP, ginger oil, ginger power BP, ginger root, ginger trips, gingerall, gingerly, gingerols, ingwer, Jamaica ginger, kankyo, Myanmar ginseng, oleoresins, P. zingiberensis, race ginger, rhizoma zingeberis, sheng jiang, shogasulfonic acid, Shokyo, vanillyl ketones, verma, zerzero, Z. capitatum, Z. officinale Roscoe, Z. zerumbet Smith, Z. blancoi Massk, Z. majus Rumph, zingerone, zingibain, Zingiber zerumbet Smith, Zingiber blancoi Massk, Zingiber majus Rumph, Zingiberis rhizome, Zinopin, Zintona EC.

Combination product examples: NT (dietary herbal supplement made from ginger, rhubarb, astragalus, red sage, and turmeric combined with gallic acid), GelStat Migraine® (combination of ginger and feverfew), Zinopin® (combination of pycnogenol and standardized ginger root extract).

Mechanism of Action


  • Constituents: The "pungent principles" or nonvolatile constituents of ginger are considered responsible for its flavor, aromatic properties, and pharmacological activity. These include: gingerols including (6)-gingerol (usually <1% of the root's weight)22, (6)-shagaol (a dehyroxylated analog of (6)-gingerol), (6)- and (10)-dehyro-gingerdione, (6)- and (10)-gingerdione, (6)-paradol, vallinoids, galanals A and B, and zingerone. Other compounds present include carbohydrates, fats, minerals, oleoresins, vitamins, waxes, and zingibain (a proteolytic enzyme). The rhizome of ginger contains pungent vanillyl ketones, including (6)-gingerol and (6)-paradol, and has been reported to possess strong anti-inflammatory activity as well as anti-tumor promoting properties.23
  • Anti-cancer effects: The anticancer effects of ginger are thought to be attributed to various constituents including vallinoids, viz. (6)-gingerol and (6)-paradol, shogaols, zingerone, and galanals A and B.18,17,24 Galanals A and B have been found to be potent apoptosis inducers of human T lymphoma Jurkat cells.17
  • Anticoagulant effects: Ginger has been shown to inhibit platelet aggregation1,2,10 and to decrease platelet thromboxane production in vitro25,26,10. (8)-Gingerol, (8)-shogaol, (8)-paradol, and gingerol analogues (1 and 5) exhibited anti-platelet activities.10 However, its effects in vivo have not been well studied. Although Verma et al. found ginger to decrease platelet aggregation27, Lumb found no effect of ginger on platelet count, bleeding time, or platelet aggregation28. Similarly, Bordia et al. found ginger to have no effect on platelet aggregation, fibrinolytic activity, or fibrinogen levels.29 Janssen et al. showed no effect of oral ginger on platelet thromboxane B2 production30, while Srivastava found thromboxane levels to be decreased by ginger ingestion in a small study31.
  • Antiemetic effects: The mechanism of action of ginger's effect on nausea and vomiting remains uncertain. However, there are several proposed mechanisms. The components in ginger that are responsible for the antiemetic effect are thought to be the gingerols, shogaols, and galanolactone, a diterpenoid of ginger.32,33,34 Recent animal models and in vitro studies have demonstrated that ginger extract possesses antiserotoninergic and 5-HT3 receptor antagonism effects, which play an important role in the etiology of post-operative nausea and vomiting.35,34,36,6,33,6 In a randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of 16 healthy volunteers, ginger (1g orally) had no effect on gastric emptying.37 It appears unlikely that ginger's anti-emetic or anti-nausea effects are mediated through increased gastroduodenal motility or through increased gastric emptying. Using gastroduodenal manometry, Micklefield et al. demonstrated that oral ginger increases antral motility during phase III of the migrating motor complex (MMC) and increases motor response to a test meal in the corpus.38 However, ginger had no significant effect in the antrum or corpus during other phases, except for a significant decrease in the amplitude of antral contractions during phase II of the MMC. Additionally, there was no effect of ginger on duodenal contractions or on the "motility index."
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: Ginger has a long history of use as an anti-inflammatory and many of its constituents have been identified as having anti-inflammatory properties.3 Ginger has been found to inhibit prostaglandin biosynthesis16 and interfere with the inflammatory cascade and the vanilloid nociceptor9. Ginger has been shown to share pharmacological properties with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) because it suppresses prostaglandin synthesis through the inhibition of cyclooxygenase-1 and cyclooxygenase-2. However, ginger can be distinguished from NSAIDs based on its ability to suppress leukotriene biosynthesis by inhibiting 5-lipoxygenase. This discovery preceded the observation that dual inhibitors of cyclooxygenase and 5-lipoxygenase may have a better therapeutic profile and have fewer side effects than NSAIDs. It was also discovered that a ginger extract (EV.EXT.77) derived from Zingiber officinale (and Alpina galanga) inhibits the induction of several genes involved in the inflammatory response, including genes encoding cytokines, chemokines, and the inducible enzyme cyclooxygenase-2. This discovery provided the first evidence that ginger modulates biochemical pathways activated in chronic inflammation. Identification of the molecular targets of individual ginger constituents provides an opportunity to optimize and standardize ginger products with respect to their effects on specific biomarkers of inflammation.
  • Antinociceptive effects: (6)-shogaol has produced anti-nociception and inhibited the release of substance P in rats, seemingly via the same receptor to which capsaicin binds. However, it was observed to be 100 times less potent and to elicit half the maximal effect of capsaicin.39
  • Antioxidant effects: In vitro, ginger has been shown to exhibit antioxidant effects.9 (6)-gingerol appears to be the antioxidant constituent present in ginger, as it was shown to protect HL-60 cells from oxidative stress.4 Ginger oil has dominative protective effects on DNA damage induced by H2O2. Ginger oil might act as a scavenger of oxygen radical and might be used as an antioxidant.21
  • Antitussive effects: (6)-shogaol, generally more potent than (6)-gingerol, has exhibited antitussive effects.19
  • Cardiovascular effects: In vitro research indicates that gingerols and the related shogaols exhibit cardiodepressant activity at low doses and cardiotonic properties at higher doses.7 Both (6)-shogaol and (6)-gingerol, and the gingerdiones, are reportedly potent enzymatic inhibitors of prostaglandin, thromboxane, and leukotriene biosynthesis.
  • Gastrointestinal effects: There is evidence that ginger rhizome (root) increases stomach acid production. If so, it may interfere with antacids, sucralfate (Carafate®), H2 antagonists, or proton pump inhibitors. In contrast, other in vitro and animal studies have revealed gastroprotective properties.14,15 In addition, (6) shogaol, generally more potent than (6)-gingerol, has inhibited intestinal motility in intravenous preparations and facilitated gastrointestinal motility in oral preparations. Ginger extract has also been reported to inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori in vitro.5 However, Desai et al. observed a significant increase in the exfoliation of gastric surface epithelial cells following the consumption of 6g or more of ginger (after examining gastric aspirates in 10 healthy volunteers).20
  • Immunomodulatory effects: The authors of one systematic review concluded that in vitro evidence indicates that ginger has immunomodulatory effects and is an effective antimicrobial and antiviral agent.9
  • Lipid effects: Oral ingestion of ginger extract has been shown to have hypocholesterolemic, hypolipidemic, and antiatherosclerotic effects in cholesterol-fed rabbits11 and in rats13. Inhibition of LDL oxidation and attenuated development of atherosclerosis has also been observed in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice.12
  • Weight loss effects: Spiced foods or herbal drinks, such as those that contain ginger, have the potential to produce significant effects on metabolic targets, such as satiety, thermogenesis, and fat oxidation.8 A significant clinical outcome sometimes may appear straightforwardly but also depends too strongly on full compliance of subjects. Thermogenic ingredients, such as ginger, may be considered as functional agents that could help restore a "positive energy balance" and prevent obesity.


  • Insufficient available evidence.

  1. Srivastava KC. Effects of aqueous extracts of onion, garlic and ginger on platelet aggregation and metabolism of arachidonic acid in the blood vascular system: in vitro study. Prostagland Leukotrienes Med 1984;13:227-235.
  2. Srivastava KC. Aqueous extracts of onion, garlic and ginger inhibit platelet aggregation and alter arachidonic acid metabolism. Biomed Biochim Acta 1984;43:S 335-S 346.
  3. Grzanna, R., Lindmark, L., and Frondoza, C. G. Ginger--an herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions. J Med Food 2005;8(2):125-132. 16117603
  4. Wang, C. C., Chen, L. G., Lee, L. T., and Yang, L. L. Effects of 6-gingerol, an antioxidant from ginger, on inducing apoptosis in human leukemic HL-60 cells. In Vivo 2003;17(6):641-645. 14758732
  5. Mahady, G. B., Pendland, S. L., Yun, G. S., Lu, Z. Z., and Stoia, A. Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) and the gingerols inhibit the growth of Cag A+ strains of Helicobacter pylori. Anticancer Res. 2003;23(5A):3699-3702. 14666666
  6. Yamahara, J., Miki, K., Chisaka, T., Sawada, T., Fujimura, H., Tomimatsu, T., Nakano, K., and Nohara, T. Cholagogic effect of ginger and its active constituents. J Ethnopharmacol  1985;13(2):217-225. 4021519
  7. Shoji, N., Iwasa, A., Takemoto, T., Ishida, Y., and Ohizumi, Y. Cardiotonic principles of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe). J Pharm.Sci  1982;71(10):1174-1175. 7143220
  8. Westerterp-Plantenga, M., Diepvens, K., Joosen, A. M., Berube-Parent, S., and Tremblay, A. Metabolic effects of spices, teas, and caffeine. Physiol Behav 8-30-2006;89(1):85-91. 16580033
  9. Chrubasik, S., Pittler, M. H., and Roufogalis, B. D. Zingiberis rhizoma: a comprehensive review on the ginger effect and efficacy profiles. Phytomedicine 2005;12(9):684-701. 16194058
  10. Nurtjahja-Tjendraputra, E., Ammit, A. J., Roufogalis, B. D., Tran, V. H., and Duke, C. C. Effective anti-platelet and COX-1 enzyme inhibitors from pungent constituents of ginger. Thromb.Res 2003;111(4-5):259-265. 14693173
  11. Bhandari, U., Sharma, J. N., and Zafar, R. The protective action of ethanolic ginger (Zingiber officinale) extract in cholesterol fed rabbits. J Ethnopharmacol  1998;61(2):167-171. 9683348
  12. Fuhrman, B., Rosenblat, M., Hayek, T., Coleman, R., and Aviram, M. Ginger extract consumption reduces plasma cholesterol, inhibits LDL oxidation and attenuates development of atherosclerosis in atherosclerotic, apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. J Nutr 2000;130(5):1124-1131. 10801908
  13. Thomson, M., Al Qattan, K. K., Al Sawan, S. M., Alnaqeeb, M. A., Khan, I., and Ali, M. The use of ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) as a potential anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic agent. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2002;67(6):475-478. 12468270
  14. al Yahya, M. A., Rafatullah, S., Mossa, J. S., Ageel, A. M., Parmar, N. S., and Tariq, M. Gastroprotective activity of ginger zingiber officinale rosc., in albino rats. Am J Chin Med  1989;17(1-2):51-56. 2589236
  15. Yamahara, J., Mochizuki, M., Rong, H. Q., Matsuda, H., and Fujimura, H. The anti-ulcer effect in rats of ginger constituents. J Ethnopharmacol  1988;23(2-3):299-304. 3193792
  16. Srivastava, K. C. and Mustafa, T. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and rheumatic disorders. Med Hypotheses 1989;29(1):25-28. 2501634
  17. Miyoshi, N., Nakamura, Y., Ueda, Y., Abe, M., Ozawa, Y., Uchida, K., and Osawa, T. Dietary ginger constituents, galanals A and B, are potent apoptosis inducers in Human T lymphoma Jurkat cells. Cancer Lett  9-25-2003;199(2):113-119. 12969783
  18. Aggarwal, B. B. and Shishodia, S. Molecular targets of dietary agents for prevention and therapy of cancer. Biochem Pharmacol 5-14-2006;71(10):1397-1421. 16563357
  19. Suekawa, M., Ishige, A., Yuasa, K., Sudo, K., Aburada, M., and Hosoya, E. Pharmacological studies on ginger. I. Pharmacological actions of pungent constitutents, (6)-gingerol and (6)-shogaol. J Pharmacobiodyn  1984;7(11):836-848. 6335723
  20. Desai, H. G., Kalro, R. H., and Choksi, A. P. Effect of ginger & garlic on DNA content of gastric aspirate. Indian J Med Res 1990;92:139-141. 2370094
  21. Ma, J., Jin, X., Yang, L., and Liu, Z. L. Diarylheptanoids from the rhizomes of Zingiber officinale. Phytochemistry 2004;65(8):1137-1143. 15110695
  22. Wang, W. H. and Wang, Z. M. [Studies of commonly used traditional medicine-ginger]. Zhongguo Zhong.Yao Za Zhi. 2005;30(20):1569-1573. 16422532
  23. Surh Y, Park K, Chun K, and et al. Anti-tumor-promoting activities of selected pungent phenolic substances present in ginger. Journal of Environmental Pathology, Toxicology and Oncology 1999;18(2):131-139.
  24. Shukla, Y. and Singh, M. Cancer preventive properties of ginger: a brief review. Food Chem Toxicol 2007;45(5):683-690. 17175086
  25. Guh, J. H., Ko, F. N., Jong, T. T., and Teng, C. M. Antiplatelet effect of gingerol isolated from Zingiber officinale. J Pharm.Pharmacol. 1995;47(4):329-332. 7791032
  26. Srivastava, K. C. Isolation and effects of some ginger components on platelet aggregation and eicosanoid biosynthesis. Prostaglandins Leukot Med  1986;25(2-3):187-198. 3103137
  27. Verma, S. K., Singh, J., Khamesra, R., and Bordia, A. Effect of ginger on platelet aggregation in man. Indian J Med Res 1993;98:240-242. 8119760
  28. Lumb, A. B. Effect of dried ginger on human platelet function. Thromb Haemost  1994;71(1):110-111. 8165628
  29. Bordia, A., Verma, S. K., and Srivastava, K. C. Effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) and fenugreek (Trigonella foenumgraecum L.) on blood lipids, blood sugar and platelet aggregation in patients with coronary artery disease. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 1997;56(5):379-384. 9175175
  30. Janssen, P. L., Meyboom, S., van Staveren, W. A., de Vegt, F., and Katan, M. B. Consumption of ginger (Zingiber officinale roscoe) does not affect ex vivo platelet thromboxane production in humans. Eur J Clin Nutr  1996;50(11):772-774. 8933126
  31. Srivastava, K. C. Effect of onion and ginger consumption on platelet thromboxane production in humans. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 1989;35(3):183-185. 2710801
  32. Bhattarai, S., Tran, V. H., and Duke, C. C. The stability of gingerol and shogaol in aqueous solutions. J Pharm Sci 2001;90(10):1658-1664. 11745724
  33. Yamahara J, Rong HQ, Iwamoto M, and et al. Active components of ginger exhibiting anti-serotonergic action. Phytotherapy Res 1989;3(2):70-71.
  34. Huang Q, Iwamoto M, Aoki S, and et al. Anti-5-hydroxytryptamine3, effect of galanolactone, diterpenoid isolated from ginger. Chem Pharm Bull  1991;39(2):397-399.
  35. Lumb, A. B. Mechanism of antiemetic effect of ginger. Anaesthesia 1993;48(12):1118. 8285357
  36. Russell, D. and Kenny, G. N. 5-HT3 antagonists in postoperative nausea and vomiting. Br J Anaesth  1992;69(7 Suppl 1):63S-68S. 1486016
  37. Phillips, S., Hutchinson, S., and Ruggier, R. Zingiber officinale does not affect gastric emptying rate. A randomised, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. Anaesthesia 1993;48(5):393-395. 8317647
  38. Micklefield, G. H., Redeker, Y., Meister, V., Jung, O., Greving, I., and May, B. Effects of ginger on gastroduodenal motility. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther  1999;37(7):341-346. 10442508
  39. Onogi, T., Minami, M., Kuraishi, Y., and Satoh, M. Capsaicin-like effect of (6)-shogaol on substance P-containing primary afferents of rats: a possible mechanism of its analgesic action. Neuropharmacology 1992;31(11):1165-1169. 1282221

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