Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ginger as Natural Remedy for Alzheimer's and some Other Diseases

Not only is ginger (Zingiber officinale) one of the most popular of all the spices but is also of the top five antioxidant foods (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2006). Numerous studies investigating ginger's medicinal properties have also shown it to be effective in conditions such as motion sickness and the prevention and treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammatory diseases and stomach ulcers.

How Ginger Fights Alzheimer’s?
Two of ginger's most important antioxidants, curcumin and gingerol, have been shown to inhibit and even reverse the deposition in the brain of the amyloid plaques that are associated with Alzheimer's disease. Moreover, zingerone, another of ginger's antioxidants, neutralizes the powerful oxidant, peroxynitrite, which has also been implicated as an aggravating factor in Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases.

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American Botanical Council Study (2003)
Fibrillar beta-amyloid peptide is prevalent in brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. Beta-amyloid peptide causes microglial cells (cells in the brain that provide support) to increase production of cytokines and chemokines. Cytokines and chemokines are substances in the body that promote inflammation. Some hypotheses state that inflammation plays a key role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-inflammatory properties. The purpose of this study was to determine whether a ginger extract could dampen the induction of inflammation-related genes in human THP-1 cells exposed to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), proinflammatory, cytokines, and fibrillar amyloid peptide Abeta(1-42), a major component of neuritic plaques.

As expected, the proinflammatory mediators caused upregulation of inflammatory markers. The ginger extract had a broad inhibitory effect on cytokine and beta-amyloid peptide induced expression of inflammation-related genes in activated THP-1 cells. The extract inhibited the induction of genes involved in the inflammatory cascade (TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, MCP-1, MIP-1alpha, IP-10, and COX2). The ginger extract has a mechanism of action that is different from that of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. 

The authors of the research conclude that this ginger extract may help prevent the sustained elevation of the proinflammatory cytokines, as would be seen in people with Alzheimer's disease. The authors believe that the ginger extract offers a promising and safe treatment to protect against the harmful effects of chronic microglial cell-associated inflammation in Alzheimer's disease. 

General Ginger Usefulness
Ginger is a good source of antioxidants. Antioxidants help rid the body of free radicals and boost the immune system, helping fight off infectious diseases like the cold and flu. Consuming antioxidants may also help prevent diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. Ginger is also used to treat stomach aches, nausea, and diarrhea.
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I personally prefer making the ginger hot mix with lemon and honey, which is, besides being an excellent immune booster, very tasty. However, there are some people who cannot stand the specific ginger taste. For them, the preferable solution would be ginger pills and crystals.

There are no definitive dosing guidelines, but if you want to take a powdered ginger extract in capsules, a minimum dose, recommended by Robert Pendergrast, MD, would be 250mg four times daily (with meals and bedtime). If you like the crystallized ginger, one cube is probably 1000 mg of ginger, and one or two a day would be a good dose.

Ginger Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings
In general, ginger appears to be safe. Side effects of ginger were not reported in most
studies. A study of healthy subjects reports no severe ginger side effects, based on
biochemistry data. While studies of treating nausea and vomiting or of cancer patients
reported ginger side effects and the side effects are gastrointestinal disturbance, sleepiness, restless, sedation and heartburn. Finally, ginger may interact with surgical medications including anesthesia, leading to arrhythmias, poor wound healing, bleeding, photosensitivity reaction, and prolonged sedation. Ginger may also interact with certain anticoagulants and analgesics to cause bleeding.

Sources and Additional Information:
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