Ginger Likely to Improve Disease Activity in Ulcerative Colitis

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Ginger supplements may be the natural substance researchers have been searching for in the prevention and treatment of common inflammatory bowel diseases

Research published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine indicates that ginger, or Zingiber officinale root, may be of therapeutic value in the treatment of ulcerative colitis, a disease exacerbated by oxidative stress.[1]

While further research is needed to assess the appropriate dosage of ginger amongst ulcerative colitis patients, the antioxidant effects of ginger in improving the quality of life even among ulcerative colitis patients have been clearly demonstrated.

What Is Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the colon and lower digestive tract and is thought to be triggered by a loss of intestinal flora and negatively impacted by oxidative stress.[2] Conventional medications used to combat ulcerative colitis include aminosalicylates, corticosteroids and cyclosporine, while alternative and more natural therapies include probiotics and fish oil.

In extreme cases, UC patients may need a colectomy if they do not respond to treatment. Most UC patients are between 15 and 30 years old, and present with a variety of symptoms ranging in severity, including:[3]

  • Intermittent rectal bleeding
  • Mild to severe diarrhea
  • Anemia
  • Mild to severe cramps
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Rapid weight loss (in severe cases)

While the exact cause of UC is unknown, factors that have been linked to the development of the disease include:[4]

  • Tobacco smoking: Both current and former tobacco use is linked with an increased risk of UC development.[5]
  • Diet: A typical western diet, characterized by a high intake of sugar and unhealthy fat and decreased intake of dietary fiber, can cause changes in the gut microbiome, negatively impacts immune function and is linked to an increased risk of UC.[6]
  • Stress: Adverse life events, chronic stress and depression have all been linked to UC.[7]
  • Oxidative stress: Oxidative stress is known to exacerbate symptoms and increase occurrences of relapse in UC patients.[8]
  • Medication use: Antibiotics often have devastating effects on the gut microbiome, and patients taking high amounts of antibiotics experience an increased risk of developing inflammatory bowel diseases.[9],[10]

Ulcerative colitis, the most common form of inflammatory bowel disease worldwide, affects 1.4 million people in the U.S., and the number of cases is growing.[11],[12] Unfortunately, many of the medications used to treat UC cause adverse effects to the bones, gastrointestinal tract, liver, eyes, pancreas and immune system.

Because of the prevalence of UC cases in North America and Europe, researchers are eager to determine if natural remedies might prove as beneficial as more conventional treatments while presenting fewer side effects.

Effects of Ginger on Ulcerative Colitis

Ginger has known positive effects on many gastrointestinal diseases, including nausea and vomiting, and due to its antioxidant properties researchers have long speculated that ginger could improve UC symptoms and reduce recurrence rates by lowering oxidative stress.

In the Complementary Therapies in Medicine study, researchers tested the effects of daily ginger supplements (2 grams per day) on participants with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis over a period of 12 weeks.[13] The results showed an improvement in oxidative stress and disease activity through a reduction in malondialdehyde, a marker for oxidative stress, in a dose-dependent manner.

However, researchers believe higher dosage amounts are necessary to induce significant improvements. As this was the first clinical trial to study the effects of dried ginger capsules on oxidative stress in UC patients, further research is warranted, but the results are promising for those suffering from this uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating disease.

Additional Benefits of Ginger

In addition to its antioxidant properties, ginger has several well-researched properties including:

  • Anti-inflammatory[14]
  • Anti-diabetic[15]
  • Effective pain management[16] [17]
  • May lower cholesterol[18]
  • Anti-cancer properties[19]
  • Protects against age-related brain decline[20]
  • Antibacterial [21]

Visit the research dashboard for more research on the therapeutic values of ginger and gingerol, the active compound found in ginger root.

Additional Natural Remedies for Ulcerative Colitis

In addition to zingiber officinale, several natural remedies have been studied for their efficacy in treating and preventing ulcerative colitis, including:

  • Curcumin: When combined with mesalamine, curcumin supplements were shown to be effective in maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis patients[22]
  • Probiotics: Like curcumin, oral supplementation of probiotics proved useful in maintaining remission of ulcerative colitis[23]
  • Fish oil: Fish oil has anti-inflammatory effects on tissues affected by ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases[24]
  • Barley grass: Germinated barley grass, a prebiotic, reduced the clinical activity of UC after only four weeks of oral consumption[25]
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, reduced the incidence of polyps and adenomas in the colon, common complications associated with ulcerative colitis[26]
  • Cannabidiol: By controlling the neuroimmune axis, cannabidiol may be effective in reducing intestinal inflammation and have therapeutic benefits for treating inflammatory bowel diseases[27]
  • Aloe vera: In one study, aloe vera extract had a protective and healing effect in rats suffering from ulcerative colitis[28]
  • Frankincense: Frankincense extract was shown to reduce symptoms of mild ulcerative colitis and may help maintain UC remission in some patients[29]

For additional research related to ulcerative colitis and a complete list of all natural remedies shown to improve ulcerative colitis symptoms, visit's Ulcerative Colitis Dashboard.


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[29] Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2016 Jun;20(12):2695-700.

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