Ginger is an excellent herbal remedy for nausea, vomiting, motion sickness, loss of appetite, intestinal gas, and other ailments. But, did you know that it can help fight cancer too?
Beyond relieving the uncomfortable side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, ginger can actually help treat cancer through its anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory (prevents the growth of precancerous tumors), antioxidant, anti-proliferative, and anti-metastatic activities. These and other properties in ginger make it one of the most potent disease-fighting spices in the world.
Several studies have demonstrated ginger’s cancer-fighting abilities. Here are some examples.
- Researchers from the University of Minnesota’s Hormel Institute found that gingerols, the phytonutrients in ginger, may help inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells. The study, presented at the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research in 2003, indicated that ginger’s compounds may work as “effective chemopreventive and/or chemotherapeutic agents for colorectal carcinomas.”
- A study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in 2006 found ginger to be effective against prostate and ovarian cancer, too. The research, conducted at the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, showed that ginger kills cancer cells and also prevents them from building up resistance to cancer treatment.However, this was just a preliminary study; further research is still required for the same. The study was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.Thus, ginger can be of great help for cancer patients, especially if they develop resistance to chemotherapy drugs because repeated chemotherapy can reduce its effectiveness.Plus, it presents no side effects. However, the amount of ginger that should be consumed to gain these benefits has not been determined as it has not been tested on human subjects as yet.
- Researchers at Georgia State University also found that ginger can be helpful in fighting prostate cancer. Their study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, showed that whole ginger extract can help shrink prostate tumor size by as much as 56% in mice.
- Researchers at the Biological Sciences Department, Faculty of Sciences, King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia, studied the impacts of crude extracts of ginger on growth of breast cancer cell lines.They found that ginger inhibited the proliferation of breast cancer cells, without significantly impacting the viability of non-tumor breast cells. The researchers concluded: “Ginger may be a promising candidate for the treatment of breast carcinomas.”
- Other studies indicate that ginger also helps fight liver cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and skin cancer.
Basically, studies have shown that ginger kills cancer cells in two ways: through apoptosis and autophagy. In apoptosis, the cancer-causing cells are made to “commit suicide” by destroying themselves, while leaving the surrounding healthy cells untouched. In autophagy, cancerous cells are “tricked into digesting themselves,” wrote J. Rebecca Liu, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.