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 journalArticle

26 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)

Cite this