Dr. Oz’s Next Miracle Obesity Cure: Ginger?

ginger-health-benefits-usesA recent article in Forbes Magazine noted at least 16 nonsensical “weight-loss miracles” discovered by Dr. Oz.

Well, allow me to be the first to predict another weight-loss miacle that may soon make the airwaves (or rather your cable): ginger.

And this would by no means be a surprise given that Saravanan and colleagues from Tamil Nadu, India, in a paper published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, note the anti-obesity effects of ginger, especially in the face of a high-fat diet.

Unfortunately (not that Dr. Oz would care), this finding was in rats, who were given varying amounts of gingerol for 30 days.

And indeed, at the highest dose (75 mg/Kg), animals did have lower glucose level, body weight, leptin, insulin, amylase, lipase plasma and tissue lipids when compared to controls.

As the authors show, this was about as much of an effect as seen in animals treated with lorcaserin, an anti-obesity drug recently approved by the FDA.

While, to their credit, the authors make only generically optimistic claims as to the use of these findings rather than proclaim  another “weight-loss miracle”, they also fail to tell us exactly how many kilograms of fresh ginger (or even ginger extract) one would have to eat every day to come anywhere close to reaching an effective dose of gingerol.

Never mind that we also have no idea how such a dose would be tolerated in humans (yes, natural products have side effects!), or even whether or not ginger would in fact have any similar effects on body weight or metabolism in humans.

Surely, there is nothing wrong with this line of research. Many medical discoveries (e.g. aspirin) were made through the isolation of pharmacologically active moieties from plants.

What is wrong, however, is when such basic findings are overhyped and presented as “miracles” with claims of curing everything from obesity and heart disease to cancer and Alzheimer’s (surprisingly such claims often fail to include world peace).

Will Dr. Oz pick up on ginger? I don’t know. But if he does, remember you heard it here first.

Edmonton, AB

ResearchBlogging.orgSaravanan G, Ponmurugan P, Deepa MA, & Senthilkumar B (2014). Antiobesity action of gingerol: Effect on lipid profile, insulin, leptin, amylase and lipase on male obese rats induced by a high-fat diet. Journal of the science of food and agriculture PMID: 24615565