Historically, Sunthi (Ginger/Zingiber officinale) has been used in Ayurveda as a digestive aid. Its fresh, pungent flavor makes it an essential ingredient in Asian cuisines.
The root of the herb has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years and is known to be greatly beneficial in reducing nausea and upset stomachs. It was used in Greek culture for making breads, the predecessor of the gingerbread we enjoy today.
In a published report on children, researchers at the Goryeb Children's Hospital in Morristown, New Jersey, listed Sunthi among the ‘novel approaches’ they suggest for assisting children with normal levels of abdominal discomfort and normal fullness (Current Gastroenterology Report. December 2007, 9(6):447-55).
Scientists at the Department of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, noted Sunthi's use in supporting the body's natural response to nausea, calling it a herb that integrates East with West and old with new, enjoying a reputation as an ‘universal remedy’ (Hawaii Medical Journal. December 2007, 66(12):326-7).
Sunthi originates from Southeast Asia and is cultivated in countries with warm climatic conditions throughout Asia and Africa.
Steam distillation of powdered Sunthi produces ginger oil, which contains a high proportion of sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, predominantly zingiberene. The major pungent compounds in Sunthi have yielded potentially active gingerols, which can be converted to shogaol, zingerone and paradol. The compound 6-gingerol appears to be responsible for its characteristic taste. Zingerone and shogaols are found in small amounts in fresh Sunthi and in larger amounts in dried or extracted Sunthi products. Gingerol and shogaol suppress gastric contractions. Both the fresh and dried rhizomes suppress gastric secretion and reduce vomiting. The compounds 6-gingerol and 6-shogaol have a number of pharmacological activities, including antipyretic, analgesic, antitussive and hypotensive actions.
Anti-inflammatory: Sunthi helps reduce inflammation; hence, it can be used to treat inflammatory disorders such as arthritis.
Indigestion: The herb has an ameliorating effect on digestive ailments. It helps digest fatty foods and break down proteins. It is also effective in reducing abdominal gaseous distension.
Nausea and vomiting: Sunthi is beneficial in relieving nausea, morning sickness and motion sickness. Studies done on the use of Sunthi in post-surgical nausea and chemotherapy-induced nausea have been encouraging.
Antidiarrheal: Sunthi is reported to control infectious diarrhea by slowing down bacterial metabolism which suppresses toxin production.
Nausea and motion sickness