Ginger Us Up

Ginger root is a widely used herb in cooking and adds a sparkle to many dishes. It is ugly to contemplate and cheap to acquire, which keeps it at the top of my shopping list. Culinary attributes apart, it has a strong reputation as one of the good things of life.

A quick scan of the cyber world brings up a huge array of benefits for consuming ginger. These can be as simple as a digestive aid, perhaps a cure for motion sickness, through the gamut to a preventative for cancer – of more than one type as well.

But its Achilles heel is its low price as an off the shelf material, so large double blind clinical studies are still lacking. However, I like it and will keep using it even if it’s just for the flavor.

There is a new bit of excitement to ginger us up in the literature. Ferri-Lagneau et al from the depths of North Carolina have been testing ginger in the context of anemia (1). Anemia is quite a serious condition and drug treatments are expensive, require things like intravenous addition, and aren’t free of unpleasant side effects. Thus if ginger can be useful, it would be a very attractive alternative.

Genetically modified zebra fish were volunteered to act as a model and showed a lack of red blood cells. In adult vertebrates, blood cells are produced from stem cells in the bone marrow. A group of proteins with the acronym Bmp’s control this process (along with others).

When you grind up and extract the good stuff from ginger root you have a plethora of chemicals. These researchers were able to home in on one in particular called Gingerol-10 that ginger up the Bmp’s to increase the production of red blood cells in their zebra fish.

You or I may not look much like zebra fish, but along with mice, they are a common model in the start of research which will finally move in our direction. Apart from potentially helping with anemia, anything that will ginger us up in the BMP department is good for our bone building ability.


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