The main side effects of taking ginger were minor stomach upset, heartburn, and gas.
Before and after the study, tissue samples were taken from the lining of the colon. Researchers tested these samples for chemicals called eicosanoids that increase inflammation in the gut.
“The ginger was able to decrease the level of inflammatory markers in the gut tissue,” compared to the placebo, Zick tells WebMD. “It decreases inflammation. We know that increased inflammation, chronic inflammation in the gut tissue is highly associated with developing precancerous lesions, or cancerous polyps.”
The study was funded, in part, by the National Cancer Institute.
Experts said the study was well done and intriguing, but preliminary.
“I think it’s a good study. It opens the door for us wanting to have further investigation,” says David Bernstein, MD, chief of the division of gastroenterology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.
But he notes that even though ginger appears to be relatively safe, it’s not time to use large amounts of it to ward off colon cancer. Study volunteers were taking eight 250-milligram capsules a day.
“I don’t know that a biochemical response translates into a clinical response,” Bernstein says. “For that, you need a larger trial.”
“Ginger has been used for a long time for multiple medicinal reasons in the Far East. So I tend to believe that something that’s been used for hundreds of thousands of years by a group — there’s probably a reason. Now we have to prove why.”