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Ginger and Artichoke | Prokinetics

Continuing our Polyphenols in Research email series, we will share the key take aways from our research into prokinetic and upper GI modulatory polyphenols.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Traditionally in Western herbal medicine, ginger has been utilised in the digestive tract for dyspepsia, flatulent colic, gastritis and diarrhoea associated with depletion.

It is commonly used for pregnancy- and chemotherapy-related nausea, gastrointestinal cramping, loss of appetite and cold extremities (1). Ginger is anti- inflammatory, a spasmolytic, anti-platelet and a diaphoretic (1).

Gingerols and shogaols, and their activity on cholinergic M receptors and serotonergic 5-HT and 5-HT receptors, have been shown to accelerate gastric emptying and stimulate gastric antral contractions (2).

A double-blind, randomised trial (n=11) evaluated the effects of ginger on gastric motility in patients with functional dyspepsia. Gastric emptying was more rapid after the ginger extract (1200 mg) compared to placebo (p<0.05) and there was a trend for more antral contractions (p=0.06) (3). Similar results were also noted by Micklefield et al. using 100 mg ginger extract twice daily (4).

Within in vivo and in vitro studies, ginger has been shown to have a prokinetic effect. Studies on rats show an increased food transit time through the stomach (5). Ginger improved bile acid and pancreatic enzyme production, all leading to improved digestion, as well as being protective to the gastric mucosa (6).

In vivo studies do not identify any major toxicities (7). The ginger metabolites, 6-, 8- and 10-GN and 6-SG, were found to be safe for healthy human subjects up to doses of 2000 mg (8).


Globe Artichoke (Cynara scolymus)

Traditionally, Cynara has been used as a hepatoprotective, hepatic trophorestorative, choleretic, cholagogue, bitter tonic, hypocholesteriaemic, antiemetic, diuretic and depurative (9).

In a randomised, placebo-controlled, cross-over study, a mixture of ginger extract (20 mg) and artichoke leaf extract (100 mg), significantly promoted gastric emptying in healthy volunteers (p<0.001) after the consumption of a standardised meal, without being associated with adverse effects (10).

Both Cynara and its active constituent, cynarin, have been shown to increase bile secretion, reduce upper intestinal bloating, reduce nausea, reduce gas, improve appetite and improve fat tolerance in human clinical trials (11).

In an open-label study, 553 out-patients with non-specific dyspeptic complaints were treated with a standardised artichoke leaf extract (960-1920 mg split dose daily). The subjective complaints declined significantly within 6 weeks of treatment (12). Improvements were found for vomiting (88%), nausea (83%) and abdominal pain (76%), loss of appetite (72%), severe constipation (71%), flatulence (68%) and fat intolerance (59%). Ninety-eight percent of the patients judged the effect of the extract to be considerably better, somewhat better, or equal to that achieved during previous treatment with other drugs.


  1. Bone, K. (2013) Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy - E-Book: Modern Herbal Medicine (p. 578). Elsevier Health Sciences
  2. Giacosa A. et al. (2015) Can nausea and vomiting be treated with ginger extract? European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences 19: 1291-1296
  3. Hu, M., Rayner, C., & Wu, K. (2011). Effect of ginger on gastric motility and symptoms of functional dyspepsia. World J Gastroent 17(1)105-110
  4. Micklefield, G., et al. (1999) Effects of ginger on gastroduodenal motility. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 37: 341-346
  5. Platel, K., & Srinivasan, K. (2001) Studies on the influence of dietary spices on food transit time in experimental rats, Nutr. Res. 21: 1309–1314.
  6. Srinivasan, K. (2017) Ginger rhizomes (Zingiber officinale): A spice with multiple health beneficial potentials, review article, Pharma Nutrition 5:18–28
  7. Stanisiere, J., et al. (2018) How Safe Is Ginger Rhizome for Decreasing Nausea and Vomiting in Women during Early Pregnancy? Foods, MDPI
  8. Zick, S., et al. (2008) Pharmacokinetics of 6-gingerol, 8-gingerol, 10-gingerol, and 6-shogaol and conjugate metabolites in healthy human subjects. Cancer Epidemiol. Biomark. Prev. 17, 1930–1936
  9. Bone, K., A (2003). Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs, Elsvier Health, USA
  10. Lazzini, S., et al. (2016) The effect of ginger (Zingiber officinalis) and artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) extract supplementation on gastric motility: a pilot randomized study in healthy volunteers, European Review for Medical and Pharmacol Sci, 20: 146-149
  11. Salem, B., et al. (2015). Pharmacological Studies of Artichoke Leaf Extract and Their Health Benefits, Plant Foods Hum Nutr 70:441–453
  12. Fintelman, V. (1996) Therapeutic profile and mechanism ofaction of artichoke leaf extract: hypolipemic, antioxidant, hepatoprotective and choleretic properties. Phytomedica 201:50–60

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