Ginger & the Prostate

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The prostate is a male reproductive gland that makes seminal fluid, the main carrier of sperm cells. Prostate gland health is a widely discussed medical topic because so many American men experience benign prostate enlargement or cancer. According to the “Professional Guide to Diseases,” prostate cancer has become the second most common cancer among American men and prostate enlargement affects at least half of men by the age of 50. Herbal remedies, such as ginger, can promote the health of your prostate, but consulting with your doctor and an herbalist before embarking on a supplement regimen is recommended.

Nutrients in Ginger

Ginger is the rhizome, or upper root, of the Zingiber officinale plant, which is indigenous to southern Asia and used by native peoples as a food, spice and medicine. Ginger root is sometimes pickled before it’s eaten, but also ground or sliced raw. Ginger is high in potassium and manganese, and is a good source of phosphorus; magnesium; calcium; beta-carotene; iron; zinc; and vitamins A, C, E and B-complex, as cited in the “American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide.” Vitamins A, C and E and beta-carotene are strong antioxidants that can protect your prostate from harmful free radicals, which are linked to accelerated tissue aging and cancerous development. Vitamin C and zinc stimulate the immune system, which protects the prostate from bacterial infection and inflammation.

A 5-Lipoxygenase Inhibitor

Ginger contains compounds that inhibit a specific enzyme that metabolizes a substance that is needed for prostate cancer proliferation, according to “Human Biochemistry and Disease.” Specifically, ginger inhibits the enzyme 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO), which is needed to metabolize arachidonic acid into a chemical called 5-HETE. In turn, 5-HETE is used as nourishment by prostate cancer cells, but cannot be produced in the presence of natural 5-LO inhibitors such as ginger and green tea. Cultures that consume large amounts of ginger and green tea, such as Japan, have lower incidence and mortality rate from prostate cancer, as cited in “Nutrition and Public Health.”

An Anti-Inflammatory

Ginger contains a variety of anti-inflammatory agents including compounds that inhibit the production of cytokines, which are substances that cause pain and swelling. Further, ginger contains a chemical called 6-gingerol, which some researchers believe may reduce your prostate inflammation and be helpful in both preventing prostate cancer and slowing down its proliferation, as cited in “The New Healing Herbs.”

A Cancer Killer

An Indian study published in a 2007 edition of “Molecular Nutrition and Food Research” found that 6-gingerol and other substances within ginger can be used to modulate certain proteins that help kill prostate cancer cells in both in vivo and in vitro animal studies. Other components of ginger suppress metastasis, or spreading of cancer, and stimulate the production of phagocytic immune cells, which fight any and all tumors and cancer cells. However, ginger is not considered a cure or even an acceptable treatment for prostate cancer or enlargement by the medical community because extensive testing on men has not yet been conducted. Consulting with your physician is highly recommended if you are experiencing prostate symptoms, such as difficulty initiating and stopping urination.