Ginger has been experiencing a revival in the natural health world—as well it should. It’s been used medicinally for over 5,000 years. Ginger is a close cousin to turmeric, which contains curcumin and turmerones, and these are some of the most powerful botanical medicines on earth. In this Terry Talks Nutrition®, I’m going to share just a few of the many benefits of ginger and explain why I think ginger oil and turmeric oil might just be an unbeatable combination.
Ginger and Inflammation
Ginger is a mainstay of traditional medicine with powerful benefits for just about every system in the body. Research shows it’s effective in several serious diseases. Ginger oils provide compounds that interrupt inflammatory triggers that can cause the development, growth, and spread of tumors. The main compounds found in ginger oil are the pungent gingerols and shogaols, and they account for the majority of ginger’s health benefits.
What many people do not understand is that inflammation is not one singular activity in the body. Imagine for a moment the ocean. We use one word—ocean—but it is not one thing. “Ocean” may be the turbulent churning at a cape, or the frigid waters and ice of the Antarctic, the calm warmth of the Caribbean, or the broad stretch of the Pacific. Inflammation is made up of a wide variety of processes that occur uniquely in various health conditions.
Ginger is an excellent anti-inflammatory botanical, but it is exceptional in many of the ways it touches the inflammatory processes in the body—ways that are not replicated by other botanicals. Ginger inhibits the production of certain compounds that stimulate inflammation, interrupts the inflammatory cascade, and modulates many of the genes associated with inflammation. This has distinct implications for many conditions, including cancer. Researchers have found that compounds in ginger interrupt the cycle of cancer cell development—in a sense, throwing a wrench into the gears of the tumor machinery.
Ginger and Cancer
One example of the power of ginger is its great promise in helping to treat glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. The prognosis for those with this type of cancer is very poor, because it spreads quickly and the cancer cells often become resistant to chemotherapy. In a cell study, a type of gingerol from ginger was combined with TRAIL (TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand), a therapy used to fight this type of cancer. The study found that gingerol was able to sensitize cancer cells to TRAIL treatment with low doses through multiple mechanisms, suggesting that chemoresistance to the therapy would be less likely. More human studies need to be done, but these are promising results for a very difficult form of cancer.
Ginger and Chemotherapy
The most common use for ginger throughout history is as a remedy for stomach upset, from morning sickness to post-surgery nausea, so it makes sense that ginger is also useful in reducing the nausea associated with chemotherapy treatment. In a double-blind, multicenter trial conducted by the University of Rochester, 576 cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy were given ginger or placebo. The researchers found that .5 gm and 1 gm doses of ginger taken for three days before chemotherapy reduced the acute nausea that comes with chemotherapy treatment. The patients in the ginger group also used less anti-nausea drugs than the placebo group.
Turmeric Essential Oils
If you’re a regular reader of Terry Talks Nutrition®, you know that I believe turmeric essential oil has profound health benefits. Turmerones, the main component of turmeric essential oil possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor effects all their own. In particular, research suggests that turmerones are particularly good at inducing apoptosis—programmed cell death that is a crucial function in normal cells. When apoptosis doesn’t occur, cancer is often the result. Turmerones may also work by helping specialized immune cells, called dendritic cells, modulate the body’s immune response.
Considering the clinical benefits determined by research on turmeric essential oil and ginger, scientists are beginning to ask if these two combined might create even greater levels of activity. In an animal model of gastric ulcers, for example, the combination of ginger and turmeric essential oils increased depleted levels of antioxidant enzymes, such as glutathione, and reduced lesions of the stomach wall. Perhaps they work so well together because, while they have many similarities, they are different enough that they provide much broader benefits than either one on its own. I think we’re going to be hearing a lot more about these promising botanicals in the future. Their potential is nearly limitless.
To protect your cells from oxidative damage and reduce chronic inflammation, I recommend taking the following botanicals on a daily basis: ginger oil standardized to a minimum of 25% gingerols and shogaols, as well as turmeric oil standardized to a minimum of 60% turmerones.