Srivastava KC, Mustafa T
One of the features of inflammation is increased oxygenation of arachidonic acid which is metabolized by two enzymic pathways–the cyclooxygenase (CO) and the 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO)–leading to the production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes respectively. Amongst the CO products, PGE2 and amongst the 5-LO products, LTB4 are considered important mediators of inflammation. More than 200 potential drugs ranging from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, gold salts, disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, methotrexate, cyclosporine are being tested. None of the drugs has been found safe; all are known to produce from mild to serious side-effects. Ginger is described in Ayurvedic and Tibb systems of medicine to be useful in inflammation and rheumatism. In all 56 patients (28 with rheumatoid arthritis, 18 with osteoarthritis and 10 with muscular discomfort) used powdered ginger against their afflictions. Amongst the arthritis patients more than three-quarters experienced, to varying degrees, relief in pain and swelling. All the patients with muscular discomfort experienced relief in pain. None of the patients reported adverse effects during the period of ginger consumption which ranged from 3 months to 2.5 years. It is suggested that at least one of the mechanisms by which ginger shows its ameliorative effects could be related to inhibition of prostaglandin and leukotriene biosynthesis, i.e. it works as a dual inhibitor of eicosanoid biosynthesis.