Anti-inflammatory effects of the essential oils of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) in experimental rheumatoid arthritis

Janet L. Funk, Jennifer B. Frye, Janice N. Oyarzo, Jianling Chen, Huaping Zhang, Barbara N. Timmermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Ginger and its extracts have been used traditionally as anti-inflammatory remedies, with a particular focus on the medicinal properties of its phenolic secondary metabolites, the gingerols. Consistent with these uses, potent anti-arthritic effects of gingerol-containing extracts were previously demonstrated by our laboratory using an experimental model of rheumatoid arthritis, streptococcal cell wall (SCW)-induced arthritis. In this study, anti-inflammatory effects of ginger's other secondary metabolites, the essential oils (GEO), which contain terpenes with reported phytoestrogenic activity, were assessed in female Lewis rats with SCW-induced arthritis. GEO (28 mg/kg/d ip) prevented chronic joint inflammation, but altered neither the initial acute phase of joint swelling nor granuloma formation at sites of SCW deposition in liver. Pharmacologic doses of 17-β estradiol (200 or 600 μg/kg/d sc) elicited the same pattern of anti-inflammatory activity, suggesting that GEO could be acting as a phytoestrogen. However, contrary to this hypothesis, GEO had no in vivo effect on classic estrogen target organs, such as uterus or bone. En toto, these results suggest that ginger's anti-inflammatory properties are not limited to the frequently studied phenolics, but may be attributable to the combined effects of both secondary metabolites, the pungent-tasting gingerols and as well as its aromatic essential oils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-131
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Arthritis
  • Essential oil
  • Estradiol
  • Ginger
  • Gingerol
  • Mice
  • Phytoestrogen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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