The effect of Zingiber officinale R. rhizomes (ginger) on plasma pro-inflammatory cytokine levels in well-trained male endurance runners

Cent Eur J Immunol. 2014;39(2):174-80. doi: 10.5114/ceji.2014.43719. Epub 2014 Jun 27.


The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of ginger on the concentrations of plasma interleukin-1β (IL-1β), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) in welltrained male endurance runners. To this end, twenty-eight high-level endurance runners were randomly assigned to two groups (control and experimental). They performed the same weekly training volume for 12 weeks. The Bruce treadmill test was used three days before the start of the 12-week training period and after weeks 6 and 12 to evaluate the physiological effects of training and ginger administration. After completing the first 6-week period of exercise training protocol, two groups received 500 mg capsules of ginger powder and placebo, respectively, three times a day for the second 6-week period. Blood samples were collected before (resting blood sample) and after the Bruce treadmill test. IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α were assayed using standard commercial ELISA kits. Two-way repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to determine significant differences between control and experimental plasma IL-6, IL-1β and TNF-α concentration means of pre- and post-test periods. The IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α concentrations at the end of week 12/weeks 6 and 12 between two training groups were significantly different (p = 0.01, p = 0.01, and p = 0.01). In the experimental group alone, there were also significant differences in the mean IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α concentrations at the end of weeks 6 and 12 (p = 0.01, p = 0.01, and p = 0.01). Our findings indicated that post-exercise plasma elevations of several pro-inflammatory cytokines can be attenuated by a six-week ginger administration period.

Keywords: endurance training; ginger; immune; interleukin-1β; interleukin-6; tumor necrosis factor-α.