Therapeutic health effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale): updated narrative review exploring the mechanisms of action

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    Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been investigated for its potentially therapeutic effect on a range of chronic conditions and symptoms in humans. However, a simplified and easily understandable examination of the mechanisms behind these effects is lacking and, in turn, hinders interpretation and translation to practice, and contributes to overall clinical heterogeneity confounding the results. Therefore, drawing on data from nonhuman trials, the objective for this narrative review was to comprehensively describe the current knowledge on the proposed mechanisms of action of ginger on conferring therapeutic health effects in humans. Mechanistic studies support the findings from human clinical trials that ginger may assist in improving symptoms and biomarkers of pain, metabolic chronic disease, and gastrointestinal conditions. Bioactive ginger compounds reduce inflammation, which contributes to pain; promote vasodilation, which lowers blood pressure; obstruct cholesterol production, which regulates blood lipid profile; translocate glucose transporter type 4 molecules to plasma membranes to assist in glycemic control; stimulate fatty acid breakdown to aid weight management; and inhibit serotonin, muscarinic, and histaminergic receptor activation to reduce nausea and vomiting. Additional human trials are required to confirm the antimicrobial, neuroprotective, antineoplastic, and liver- and kidney-protecting effects of ginger. Interpretation of the mechanisms of action will help clinicians and researchers better understand how and for whom ginger may render therapeutic effects and highlight priority areas for future research.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages12
    JournalNutrition Reviews
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jan 2023


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