For the past two years (2020-2021) everyone realized that fresh food, exercise, and herbal medicines are good for human health as well as those boosts the immune system. Everybody knows about “Ginger” which is a common spice in Southeast Asian countries. Well, a little introduction about common ginger is, it is a rhizome or root of flowering plants and biologically known as “Zingiber Officinale”. It belongs to a flowering family Zingiberaceae and has been used in spices, condiments, medicines, cosmetics ornamentals, perfumes, and natural dyes. For ages, ginger is famous due to its medicinal value such as it has been used to treat stomachache, sore throat, flu, fever, diarrhea, and many more diseases. Ginger tea is famous in India and Pakistan because it helps in digestion and strengthens the immune system.
Ginger “Zingiber Officinale” contains non-bioactive phenolic compounds such as shagoals, paragoals, Zingerones, and gingerols. 6-gingerols are found in rhizomes of fresh ginger. It has anti-cancer, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory medicinal properties. Gingerol also has powerful antioxidant effects which may help to reduce oxidative stress by removing the excess number of free radicals in our body. Furthermore, acute inflammation is an important part of the normal immune system but chronic inflammation can harm the immune system and may lead to chronic diseases. Long-term use of ginger is helpful to maintain a healthy weight, controls blood sugar levels, decrease chances of heart diseases, treat nausea, reduce infections, significantly reduce menstrual pain, may improve brain function, and protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic has globally impacted people’s livelihood and their health system. Novel COVID-19 is caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This virus has single-stranded, positive-sense RNA in its genome which directly attacks the respiratory system of the host. In addition, the COVID-19 virus affects the digestive system, nervous system, urogenital and cardiovascular system. The symptoms of COVID-19 include high fever, cough, shortness of breath, pneumonia, and fatigue. According to many studies, it is suggested that viral diseases can be cured by herbs having anti-viral properties such as ginger, garlic, turmeric, onion, cinnamon, and cardamom. Ginger is among the most popular and therapeutic herbs against pulmonary fibrosis, acute kidney, and ARDS. Experiments have shown, ginger significantly reduces pulmonary fibrosis and lessens oxidative stress in an animal model. Bleomycin (cytotoxic) is used as an antibiotic in cancer treatment. It has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis as a side effect. Zingiberone (a bioactive compound in ginger), administered to bleomycin-treated rats, noticeably affected the histopathological sections of lungs, reduced levels of fibrosis marker, oxidative stress, hydroxyproline, and malondialdehyde (MDA). It increased the level of antioxidant markers such as reduced glutathione (GSH), sulfur oxide dismutase (SOD), and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-PX) in the lungs.
Pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) is a serious infectious lung disease leading to pulmonary fibrosis and acute lung injury. Tuberculosis patients treated with ginger showed reduced levels of MDA and inflammatory markers such as TNF- and ferritin. In summary, some clinical studies suggested that COVID-19 patients, having pulmonary symptoms, ARDS, and pneumonia, can be cured by ginger extract which has a beneficial impact against all the above-mentioned diseases.
There are several reports indicating that consumption of ginger increased profoundly after the pandemic of COVID-19 infection. For example, in Saudi Arabia consumption of ginger increased from 36.2% to 57.6% in COVID-19 patients. Similarly, data reported that COVID-19 patients from Bangladesh, Tunisian, and Africa started using herbal remedies containing ginger and related herbs to cure the infection rather than relying on other treatments. Herbal treatments reduce the risk of viral infection as well as strengthen the immune system. Fatality risk by COVID-19 is high in older patients because they have weak immune systems. Moreover, viral infections lower the antioxidant reserves and enhance the production of oxidants. Therefore, overproduction of ROS increases viral replication and viral-associated complications.
In conclusion, natural products are highly tolerated with minimum and harmless side effects and can be used in combination with clinical standard care. Ginger is effective against COVID-19 patients due to its antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It is suggested that more clinical trials on animals are needed to prove further preventive and therapeutic effects of potential ginger against COVID-19 infection. Moreover, cooked ginger, raw or powdered ginger is effective in common cold, fever, sore throat, and indigestion. Everyone should increase the intake of ginger in daily life to get rid of chronic diseases.
Seemab Akram (Ph.D.)
Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)
I am a botanical researcher. My Ph.D. study was focused on the genetic study of the family Zingiberaceae from Ex-situ conservation of Peninsular Malaysia. It involved studying better biological data to improve the current taxonomic and molecular classification of the family Zingiberaceae. Further, I targeted CHS genes which are conserved genes and contribute to the biological diversity of life. I also developed new genic primers for endemic and Pharmaceutical valuable species of Zingiberaceae.