Ginger Protects the Liver against the Toxic Effects of Xenobiotic Compounds


Ginger Protects the Liver against the Toxic Effects of Xenobiotic Compounds

Ginger, the rhizomes of the plant Zingiber officinale Roscoe (Family Zingiberaceae), is arguably one of the most widely used culinary agent and spice in the world. In addition to its culinary use, ginger also possess medicinal properties, and has been used since antiquity to treat ailments like cold, headaches, nausea, stomach upset, diarrhea, digestive, gastrointestinal disturbances, rheumatic complaints, diarrhea, nausea, asthma and parasitic infections, arthritis and muscular discomfort in the various alternative and folk systems of medicine in the world. Phytochemical studies have shown that the unique culinary and medicinal properties of ginger are due to the presence of phytochemicals like zingerone, shogaols, gingerols, pardols, β-phellandrene, curcumene, cineole, geranyl acetate, terphineol, terpenes, borneol, geraniol, limonene, β-elemene, zingiberol, linalool, α-zingiberene, β-sesquiphellandrene, β-bisabolene, zingiberenol and α-farmesene.

Scientific studies carried out in accordance to the principles of modern system of medicine have convincingly shown that ginger possesses numerous health benefits like antimicrobial, antiviral, gastroprotective, antidiabetic, anti-hypertensive, cardioprotective, anticancer, chemopreventive and immunomodulatory effects. Additionally, preclinical studies carried out with laboratory animals have also shown that ginger to possess hepatoprotective effects, and to protect the liver against the toxic effects of diverse class of xenobiotic agents like alcohol, country liquor, acetaminophen, heavy metals, CCl4, paraben and bromobenzene. In the following section, the observations from these studies will be addressed in detail.

Ginger has been shown to be a hepatoprotective agent, and studies with various hepatotoxins like ethanol, paracetamol, CCl4 , lead, cadmium, tetracycline, organophosphorus compounds validate the property. However, although considerable work has been done to exploit the hepatoprotective effects, countless possibilities for investigation still remain. There are hardly any reports of toxic effects of ginger. Studies should be conducted to assess for the possible adverse effects of ginger, especially at higher concentrations and when consumed over longer periods. Additionally, further in-depth mechanistic in vitro studies, relevant animal studies and rationally designed clinical trials are required. By virtue of its free radical scavenging, antioxidant enhancing, anti-inflammatory and modulation of the detoxifying enzymes, it is safe to suggest that ginger merits clinical studies, especially in the high risk group like chronic alcoholics and people with compromised liver functions. The outcomes of such studies may be useful for further clinical applications of ginger in humans, and may open up a new therapeutic avenue

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