Ginger and Turmeric Ancient Spices and Modern Medicines

  • David R. Gang
  • Xiao-Qiang Ma
Part of the Plant Genetics and Genomics: Crops and Models book series (PGG, volume 1)


Ginger and turmeric have been used in human cuisine and in traditional medicinal practice for thousands of years. They are widely popular spices used extensively in Asian cuisine and growing in use in western cuisine. They have been used as medicinal plants, due to their anti-inflammatory properties, to treat a wide array of illnesses and conditions, such as arthritis (osteo and rheumatoid), inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, the common cold, etc. Two groups of compounds, the diarylheptanoids (including the curcuminoids) and the gingerolrelated compounds, are potent anti-inflammatory compounds and contribute to, or are responsible for, many of the medicinal properties in these plants. They also contribute to the color of turmeric used in curries and to the pungency of ginger. Several of these compounds, most notably curcumin and [6]-gingerol, are now the targets of drug development. Despite their great medicinal and culinary importance, very little basic scientific research has been done on these plants. This is now changing.Belonging to the ingiberaceae, they are members of the Zingiberales. The closest relative to this large group of plants that has been studied in some detail is banana (Musa spp, see chapter in this book), although that plant is not that closely related. The relationships of these plants to other plant groups, their diversity, their production, and recent and proposed efforts to understand the genetic and genomic makeup of these plants are discussed.


Motion Sickness Shikimic Acid Curcuma Longa Ginger Extract Tetraploid Clone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adaniya S, Shirai D (2001) In vitro induction of tetraploid ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) and its pollen fertility and germinability. Sci Hortic 88:277–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aggarwal BB, Kumar A, Bharti AC (2003) Anticancer potential of curcumin: preclinical and clinical studies. Anticancer Res 23:363–398PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Altman RD, Marcussen KC (2001) Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum 44:2531–2538PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ammon HP, Anazodo MI, Safayhi H, Dhawan BN, Srimal RC (1992) Curcumin: a potent inhibitor of leukotriene B4 formation in rat peritoneal polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNL). Planta Med 58:226PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Andersson L, Chase MW (2001) Phylogeny and classification of Marantaceae. Botanical Linnean Society 135:275–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Atamna H, Boyle K (2006) Amyloid-beta peptide binds with heme to form a peroxidase: relationship to the cytopathologies of Alzheimer’s disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103:3381–3386PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Balasubramanian S, Eckert RL (2006) Curcumin suppresses AP1 transcription factor-dependent differentiation and activates apoptosis in human epidermal keratinocytes. J Biol Chem 282:6707–6715PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chainani-Wu N (2003) Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of tumeric (Curcuma longa). J Altern Complement Med 9:161–168PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chase MW (2004) Monocot relationships: An overview Am J Bot 91:1645–1655Google Scholar
  10. College JNM (1985) The Dictionary of Traditional Chinese Medicine. (Shanghai: Shanghai Sci-Tech PressGoogle Scholar
  11. Davis JI (1995) A phylogenetic structure for the Monocotyledons, as inferred from chloroplast DNA restriction site variation, and a comparison of measures of clade support. Syst Bot 20:503–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Davis JI, Stevenson DW, Petersen G, Seberg O, Campbell LM, et al. (2004) A Phylogeny of the monocots, as inferred from rbcL and atpA sequence variation, and a comparison of methods for calculating jackknife and bootstrap values. Syst Bot 29:467–510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Deeb DD, Jiang H, Gao X, Divine G, Dulchavsky SA, et al. (2005) Chemosensitization of hormone-refractory prostate cancer cells by curcumin to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. J Exp Ther Oncol 5:81–91PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Dikshit P, Goswami A, Mishra A, Chatterjee M, Jana NR (2006) Curcumin induces stress response, neurite outgrowth and prevent NF-kappaB activation by inhibiting the proteasome function. Neurotox Res 9:29–37PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dudareva N, Andersson S, Orlova I, Gatto N, Reichelt M, et al. (2005) The nonmevalonate pathway supports both monoterpene and sesquiterpene formation in snapdragon flowers. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102:933–938PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Egan ME, Pearson M, Weiner SA, Rajendran V, Rubin D, et al. (2004) Curcumin, a major constituent of turmeric, corrects cystic fibrosis defects. Science 304:600–602Google Scholar
  17. Grant KL, Lutz R (2000) Ginger Am J Health Syst Pharm 57:945–947Google Scholar
  18. Grant KL, Schneider CD (2000) Turmeric Am J Health Syst Pharm 57:1121–1122Google Scholar
  19. Jiang H, Timmermann BN, Gang DR (2006a) Use of liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry to identify diarylheptanoids in turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) rhizome. J Chromatogr A 1111:21–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jiang H, Solyom AM, Timmermann BN, Gang DR (2005a) Characterization of gingerol-related compounds in ginger rhizome (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) by high-performance liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 19:2957–2964CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jiang H, Somogyi A, Jacobsen NE, Timmermann BN, Gang DR (2006b) Analysis of curcuminoids by positive and negative electrospray ionization and tandem mass spectrometry. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 20:1001–1012CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jiang H, Xie Z, Koo H, McLaughlin SP, Timmermann BN, Gang DR (2005b) Metabolic profiling, phylogenetic analysis and anti-inflammatory investigation of Zingiber species: tools for authentication of ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.). Phytochem 67:232–244 doi:210.1016/j.phytochem.2005.1008.1001Google Scholar
  23. Jiang H, Xie Z, Koo HJ, McLaughlin SP, Timmermann BN, Gang DR (2006c) Metabolic profiling and phylogenetic analysis of medicinal Zingiber species: Tools for authentication of ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc). Phytochemistry 67:1673–1685CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Joe B, Vijaykumar M, Lokesh BR (2004) Biological properties of curcumin-cellular and molecular mechanisms of action. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 44:97–111PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jolad SD, Lantz RC, Solyom AM, Chen GJ, Bates RB, et al. (2004) Fresh organically grown ginger (Zingiber officinale): composition and effects on LPS-induced PGE2 production. Phytochemistry 65:1937–1954PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Keating A, Chez RA (2002) Ginger syrup as an antiemetic in early pregnancy. Altern Ther Health Med 8:89–91PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Kress WJ, Prince LM, Williams KJ (2002) The phylogeny and a new classification of the gingers (Zingiberaceae): evidence from molecular data. Am J Bot 89:1682–1696Google Scholar
  28. Lacroix R, Eason E, Melzack R (2000) Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy: A prospective study of its frequency, intensity, and patterns of change. Am J Obstet Gynecol 182:931–937PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Langner E, Greifenberg S, Gruenwald O (1998) Ginger: history and use. Adv Ther 15:25–44PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Lien HC, Sun WM, Chen YH, Kim H, Hasler W, et al. (2003) Effects of ginger on motion sickness and gastric slow-wave dysrhythmias induced by circular vection. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 284:481–489Google Scholar
  31. Ma X, Gang DR (2006) Metabolic profiling of turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) plants derived from in vitro micropropagation and conventional greenhouse cultivation. J Agric Food Chem 54:9573–9583PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ono K, Naiki H, Yamada M (2006) The development of preventives and therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease that inhibit the formation of beta-amyloid fibrils (fAbeta), as well as destabilize preformed fAbeta. Curr Pharm Des 12:4357–4375PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rapaka RS, Coates PM (2006) Dietary supplements and related products: a brief summary. Life Sci 78:2026–2032PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ringman JM, Frautschy SA, Cole GM, Masterman DL, Cummings JL (2005) A potential role of the curry spice curcumin in Alzheimer’s disease. Curr Alzheimer Res 2:131–136PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sasaki Y, Fushimi H, Cao H, Cai SQ, Komatsu K (2002) Sequence analysis of Chinese and Japanese Curcuma drugs on the 18S rRNA gene and trnK gene and the application of amplification-refractory mutation system analysis for their authentication. Biol Pharm Bull 25:1593–1599PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Smith C, Crowther C, Willson K, Hotham N, McMillian V (2004a) A randomized controlled trial of ginger to treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol 103:639–645Google Scholar
  37. Smith MK, Hamill SD, Gogel BJ, Severn-Ellis AA (2004b) Ginger (Zingiber officinale) autotetraploids with improved processing quality produced by an in vitro colchicine treatment. Aust J Exp Agric 44:1065–1072CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Specht CD, Kress WJ, Sevenson DW, Rob D (2001) A molecular phylogeny of Costaceae (Zingiberales). Molec Phyl Evol 21:333–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Srivastava KC, Mustafa T (1992) Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in rheumatism and musculoskeletal disorders. Med Hypotheses 39:342–348PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Stewart JJ, Wood MJ, Wood CD, Mims ME (1991) Effects of ginger on motion sickness susceptibility and gastric function. Pharmacology 42:111–120PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Syed A, Upton C (2006) Java GUI for InterProScan (JIPS): a tool to help process multiple InterProScans and perform ortholog analysis. BMC Bioinformatics 7:462PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Vutyavanich T, Kraisarin T, Ruangsri RA (2001) Ginger for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: Randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol 97:577–582PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wigler I, Grotto I, Caspi D, Yaron M (2003) The effects of Zintona EC (a ginger extract) on symptomatic gonarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 11:783–789PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Willetts KE, Ekangaki A, Eden JA (2003) Effect of a ginger extract on pregnancy-induced nausea: a randomised controlled trial. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 43:139–144PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wohlmuth H, Leach DN, Smith MK, Myers SP (2005) Gingerol content of diploid and tetraploid clones of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe). J Agric Food Chem 53:5772–5778PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wohlmuth H, Smith MK, Brooks LO, Myers SP, Leach DN (2006) Essential oil composition of diploid and tetraploid clones of ginger (Zingiber officinale roscoe) grown in Australia. J Agric Food Chem 54:1414–1419PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Yang F, Lim GP, Begum AN, Ubeda OJ, Simmons MR, et al. (2005) Curcumin inhibits formation of amyloid beta oligomers and fibrils, binds plaques, and reduces amyloid in vivo. J Biol Chem 280:5892–5901PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Yang X, Thomas DP, Zhang X, Culver BW, Alexander BM, et al. (2006) Curcumin inhibits platelet-derived growth factor-stimulated vascular smooth muscle cell function and injury-induced neointima formation. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 26:85–90PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Gang
    • 1
  • Xiao-Qiang Ma
  1. 1.Department of Plant Sciences and BIO5 InstituteUniversity of ArizonaTucson

Personalised recommendations