MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

After 25 years of full-time research into alternative medicine, I thought that I have seen it all. But I was wrong! Here is an article that surpasses every irresponsible stupidity I can remember. It is entitled ‘Ginger is the monumentally superior alternative to chemotherapy‘:

Let’s say that your doctor has given you a cancer diagnosis. Let’s revisit animal wisdom. If a squirrel was looking over a tasty morsel of ginger on one side, or a vial full of Mehotrexate, Danorubicin or Tioguanine on the other, what would that intelligent squirrel choose? The answer is obvious. And it’s the right answer, because ginger roots, after being dried and cooked, manifest an ingredient called 6-shogaol.

This naturally occurring element is up to 10,000 times more effective at killing cancer cells than those vials of destructive drugs, reports David Guiterrez from Natural News, who states that “researchers found that 6-shogaol is active against cancer stem cells at concentrations that are harmless to healthy cells. This is dramatically different from conventional chemotherapy, which has serious side effects largely because it kills healthy as well as cancerous cells.”

END OF QUOTE

As David Guiterrez from Natural News might not be the most reliable of sources, I did a bit of searching for evidence. This is what I found:

A study examining the efficacy of ginger, as an adjuvant drug to standard antiemetic therapy, in ameliorating acute and delayed CINV in patients with lung cancer receiving cisplatin-based regimens. It concluded that as an adjuvant drug to standard antiemetic therapy, ginger had no additional efficacy in ameliorating CINV in patients with lung cancer receiving cisplatin-based regimens.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter study in patients planned to receive ≥2 chemotherapy cycles with high dose (>50 mg/m2) cisplatin. Patients received ginger 160 mg/day (with standardized dose of bioactive compounds) or placebo in addition to the standard antiemetic prophylaxis for CINV, starting from the day after cisplatin administration. The authors found that in patients treated with high-dose cisplatin, the daily addition of ginger, even if safe, did not result in a protective effect on CINV. 

Yes, there are also a few trials to suggest that ginger is effective for reducing nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy, but by and large they are older and less rigorous. And anyway, this is besides the point. The question here is not whether there is good evidence to show that ginger is helpful against chemo-induced nausea; the question is whether Ginger is clinically effective in ‘killing cancer cells’. And the answer is an emphatic

NO!!!

And this means the above-quoted article irresponsible, unethical, perhaps even criminal to the extreme. I shudder to think how many cancer patients have read it and consequently given up their conventional treatments opting for Ginger instead.

14 Responses to Ginger: 10,000 times more effective at killing cancer cells than conventional drugs?

  • How many cancer patients have read it and reached for the ginger? I’d guess about none probably. People aren’t that stupid. I hope.

    • so do I
      but that does not change the irresponsible stupidity of the article

    • People are not stupid but they can be desperate- we all have a duty to protect people when they are vulnerable.

    • Not stupid, just lacking in knowledge and critical-thinking skills. And, as pointed out elsewhere here, some people are desperate—and desperate people sometimes make desperate choices.

      • It’s really much more complex than that.

        Quite a few registered medical practitioners actually do believe homeopathic preparations, needling skin, spinal manipulation, manual waving of the air (or even simply holding a hand above a patient), has a helpful effect on pathological processes. e.g. – the late Peter Fisher who made consistent attempts to have camistry integrated with orthodox medicine.

        I believe he came to his senses later in his career, but simply couldn’t move on and give up his approach and became a charlatan – but he seems to have started off actually believing nonsense, notwithstanding having the intellectual ability to be appointed a consultant rheumatologist. He was, and is, not alone.

        I have no idea how folks come to have these beliefs, but many intellectuals with highly developed critical thinking skills and extensive knowledge are also religious. Strange species Homo sapiens .

        • I have no idea how folks come to have these beliefs

          Basically, I’d say that we evolved to take short cuts whenever possible, especially in our thinking. Also, we’re very good at seeing patterns – even where there aren’t any. And third, our mutual empathy as a social species means that we generally hate to see someone suffer. We always feel the urge to do something about it.
          All this is good for survival in a natural environment with various threats, but the price for this habit of fast-‘n-sloppy thinking is that proper (scientific) reasoning takes an extraordinary amount of effort (also see Thinking, Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman).
          So when someone is not well, people feel the urge to do something about it, no matter what. And yes, that is what happens: something ‘special’ is done, and hey, presto: the patient quite often feels better almost instantly (through the placebo effect and personal attention, as we now know). And what’s more remarkable: most of the time, the patient recovers. So it must have worked! As a consequence, the ‘healer’ gets respect and admiration, and rises in the social hierarchy. This of course is a strong incentive to keep ‘healing’ people.

          Yes, nowadays, people absolutely should know better. But apparently, these ancient traits can’t be shaken off so readily. In many cases where basically intelligent people turn into quacks or alternative apologists, you’ll often find that one special event (e.g. a coincidence that is mistaken for causality) or an ‘insight’ (a mental short cut, or a deceptively simple explanation) changed their minds. Subsequently, the above mechanisms gather momentum, making it harder to abandon the new belief as time goes on.
          One extreme example is this Dutch lady, who not only tried literally every single type of cancer quackery under the sun, but has developed utterly ludicrous ‘insights’ about what cancer actually is, and how it should be treated. And what’s worse, she has gathered a loyal following of people (mostly other cancer patients), assuming for herself the role of what I can only describe as cult leader. Dozens if not hundreds of people actually believe the total nonsense that this woman spouts, presumably because it gives them answers and hope where regular medicine can’t (again this mechanism of wanting to do something, anything…).
          I’ve also seen legitimate MD’s turn into quacks, simply because they had a great idea and took the short cut of ‘knowing’ that they’re right, instead of going through all the hassle of research, peer review etcetera.

          Note that these are just a few of my thoughts on the matter – if you have comments on this, I’d be most interested to hear (I also have plans for a book on this subject, i.e. why people believe these things, see my answer to your question a few days back).

        • Richard Rawlins – you say ‘I have no idea how folks come to have these beliefs…’ referring to those that use CAM.

          Prior to that you said ‘I believe he came to his senses later in his career, but couldn’t move on and give up his approach and became a charlatan…’ referring to the late Peter Fisher. I am sure his family, friends and colleagues and the wider community touched by him would disagree with your belief.

          Yes,indeed, strange species Homo sapiens.

  • When sick people are perceiving a painful future due to an invasive disease, they start having hope against when some one like Ginger advocate promises, even if the promises are false. Edzard is right, in saving people from such false propaganda. We know 20 other natural factors can reduce impact of cancer: good diet, sun, moon, beach bathing, walks, dances, community service and so on.
    But some one to come and try to prove that one thing, ginger, in this case can do such Herculean tasks, is false propaganda.

    These I see, especially from my country of birth, India, are running Global Practice by Marketing such stupid ideas! So these folks are just crooks who magnify natural effects of good spices or herbs beyond their natural contributions of health. I support Dr. Edzard. Blessings. Pal

    • “We know 20 other natural factors can reduce impact of cancer: good diet, sun, moon, beach bathing, walks, dances, community service and so on.”
      REALLY?
      Any evidence?

      • I’m not sure about sun, moon and beach bathing, but there is no doubt about the importance of good diet. Exercise has been shown to improve the outlook in all kinds of cancer, which I would expect to apply to walking and dancing, and a few domiciliary visits to cancer patients should be enough to convince most people of the impact of community services (similarly I wouldn’t demand a clinical trial before concluding that the Ambulance Service reduces mortality from road traffic accidents). There is also no doubt that a positive attitude also helps (I believe that this has been demonstrated in studies, even if you can’t randomise for it), though in this case I think the mechanism is that more motivated patients are more likely to look after themselves properly and to report complications and other problems soon enough to do something about them.

        I know that many people are convinced of the effectiveness of ginger for chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting, and since vomiting has a large psychosomatic component a belief in ginger has an important placebo effect in clinical practice. It also gives the patient a sense of control, and generally it is taken in the form of ginger biscuits and ginger tea, which many people may already have in their kitchen cupboard and find more acceptable than swallowing pills.

        Having said that, if there is a pharmacological effect of ginger on vomiting it is probably fairly small, and to test it with cisplatin (one of the most highly emetogenic cytotoxics in regular use) in combination with powerful and effective antiemetics (presumably 5HT3 inhibitors plus dexamethasone plus PRN antidopaminergics) is maybe not the best model to find subtle effects. If I were designing such a trial I would be inclined to try it with a more weakly emetogenic drug such as fluoruracil and then test it against a mild-to-moderate antiemetic, for instance domperidone.

        David Guitarrez seems to be talking abject nonsense. I don’t even know it he is right about the preferences of squirrels, and he hasn’t managed to spell the names of any of the cytotoxics he mentions. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are substances in ginger with a pharmacological effect (other than the obvious one on temperature receptors in the mouth) as many plants have evolved to be toxic to predators, but that has probably already been investigated by the pharmaceutical industry.

        Daunorubicin, by the way, is named after the Dauni, a people living in Puglia, Italy in ancient times. Puglia is where the red fungus from which daunorubicin is extraced was first discovered. Methotrexate and thioguanine are synthetic, but arguably daunorubicin is a natural product, along with paclitaxel (from yew), bleomycin (fungal), vinca alkaloids (periwinkle plant), etoposide (from the may apple, rather confusingly called the mandrake in the USA, which is a different plant from the mandrake in the rest of the world) and other cytotoxics in common use.

  • Paul Chahal said: “We know 20 other natural factors can reduce impact of cancer: good diet, sun, moon, beach bathing, walks, dances, community service and so on.”
    I take it that by ‘”impact” he refers to a patient ‘feeling better’ after engaging with the modalities set out – not that the underlying pathological process has been affected.

    Surely we don’t need hard evidence to know that ‘feeling better’ makes patients feel better?
    Some call that ‘placebo effects’! Pal made no claims that his list affected pathology.

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