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Articles > Stressed Out... Read This! Itís Thyme for Ginger

Author: Ahmed Elkadi, MD

Most, if not all, synthetic pharmaceutical tranquillizers have the potential of producing undesirable side effects. The main concern is usually regarding the sedative effect on the body, with impairment of the sensory or motor functions of the central nervous system. and obviously the potential for physical or psychological dependence,"-10' With this genuine concern in mind, it is highly desirable to find natural ingredients that would provide the needed tranquil Using effect, without the potential side effects expected with the use of synthetic preparations..

A recent study by the Institute of Islamic Medicine for Education and Research in Panama City, Florida, observed the effect of ginger and thyme on abnormal psychological symptoms. The study used a controlled perspective double-blind protocol with accurate statistical analysis of the study results. A total of 49 human volunteers were randomized into three groups and evaluated for abnormal psychological symptoms using a Symptom Check List (SLC-90-R) "3 ē"" before and after the study. One group received dried ginger root powder in unmarked capsules, another group received dried thyme leaf powder in similar capsules, while the third group which acted as a control group was given a placebo.

After one month of intake of the material, there was a statistically significant improvement of the various abnormal psychological symptoms in the ginger and thyme groups, while the control group showed no significant improvement. The therapeutic tranquillizing effect of ginger was somewhat more pronounced and longer lasting compared with that of thyme. There were no undesirable side effects in any of the study groups. In the case of ginger, we have a fairly good idea of what motivates the action. Ginger is known to be a thromboxane antagonist,115161 in that it inhibits thromboxane synthesis. There are anti-anxiety receptors (Benzodiazepine receptors) in the brain,117 18) and thromboxane is thought to be the natural ligand for these receptors1181.

A natural ligand is a substance that occupies or blocks the receptors. As ginger inhibits the synthesis of thromboxane, these receptors are free to be stimulated, and a tranquillizing affects results. Diazepam (valium) and other tranquillizers that belong its group of Benzodiazepines are also thromboxane antagonists, and this may explain their tranquillizing effect."51 The problem with the Benzodiazepine tranquillizers is that they are plagued by undesirable side effects."247'01 Ginger is free of any sedating or addictive side effect. Quite to the contrary, it has a general stimulating effect on the body, on the heart and skeletal muscles, 119201 It also has a stimulating effect on the adrenal gland medulla to secrete catecholamines,12" and an aphrodisiac effect leading to increased sperm count and motility.1221 Furthermore, it has been suggested that ginger may play a therapeutic role in the treatment of drug addiction, based on its noradrenergic and thromboxane inhibiting effect.'231

As to thyme, no explanation is yet apparent for the tranquillizing effect noticed. Whether it has an anti-thromboxane activity similar to ginger or a totally different mechanism of action has to be determined through further studies. The safety records of ginger and thyme as natural herbs extend over thousands of years, during which time they have been used as spices for seasoning in food and drink. In addition, modem studies have found ginger and thyme to possess a variety of medicinal effects. Ginger was found to have an anti-motion sickness effect,'24-251 an anti-emetic effect in patients recovering from surgery.126' an anti-rheumatic effect, (27) a protective effect on the stomach inner lining1281 and most recently an immune-enhancing effect.1291

Thyme was found to have an antimicrobial effect, 130321 and a spasmolytic effect on the smooth muscles of the trachea and small intestine.'33 341 Most recently it was also found to have an anti-viral and a beneficial selective cytotoxic effect.1351 In cell culture studies, thyme extract killed cancer cells and cells infected with HIV, while not causing any harm to normal cells in control cell cultures. The use of ginger and thyme as natural tranquillizers can be a beneficial component in the treatment of persons who suffer from emotional problems, or healthy people who are under excessive emotional stress. Ginger can also be a useful adjuvant in persons undergoing treatment for any chronic illness. since most usually have a higher than average amount of harboured negative emotion. Ginger and thyme can also be used to reduce the food or cigarette cravings and also help to curb nervous tension exhibited by those who are trying to lose weight or stop smoking.

Since negative emotions are known to be powerful immune suppressers, ginger and thyme could exert an Indirect Immune enhancing effect by reducing the severity of any existing negative emotions.

Ahmed Elkadi M.D., is the administrator of the Panama City Clinic in Florida. He is also the President of the Institute of Islamic Medicine for Education and. Research.


1. Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR), 44th ed., 1990, Medical Economics Comp., Oradell, NJ, 07649, Ativan, p. 2348.
2 Ibid., Centrax, p.2582.
3. Ibid., Haldol.p. 1281.
4. Ibid., Librium.p. 1821.
5. Ibid., Mlltown. p. 2268.
6. Ibid., Prolixin, p. 1691.
7. Ibid.. Serax, p. 2432.
8. Ibid., Tranxene, p. 567.
9. Ibid., Valium, p. 1828
10. Ibid., Xanax, p. 2253.
11. Elkadi. A.. EI-Menshawi, A., and Khorshid, L., The Tranquilizing Effect of Ginger and Thyme. Presented at the annual convention of the Islamic Medical Association of South Africa, Cape Town, July, 1992.
12. Elkadi, A., EI-Menshawi, A.. and Khorshid, L., Ginger: The Natural Tranquillizer. A Preliminary Study. J.I.M.A. 1993:25:30-37.
13. Derogatis, L.R. SCL-90-R. Administration, scoring and procedures manual 11 (or the revised version. Product of Clinical Psychometric Research. Towson. Maryland. 21203.
14. Derogatis. L.R. Rickels, K.. and Rock. A. The SCL-90 and the MMPI. A step in the validation of the new self-report scale. Brit. J. Psychiat. 1976:128:280-289.
15. Backon, J., Ginger: Inhibition of thromboxane synthetaseand stimulation of prostacyclin: Relevance for medicine and psychiatry. Medical Hyposthesis 1986: 20:271-278.
16. Kimura, 1., Kimura M., and Pancho. L.R. Modulation of eicosanoid-induced contraction of mouse and rat blood vessels by gingerols. Japan. J. Pharmacol. 1989:51:253-261.
17. Iversen, L., Anti-anxiety receptors in the brain? Nature 1977:266:678.
18. Ally. A.I., Manku, M.S.. Horrotwi, D.F., Karamali, R.A.. Morgan, P.O., and Karmazyn, M. Thromboxane A, as a possible natural figand for benzodiazepine receptors. Neuroscience Letters 1978; 7:31 -34.
19. Kobayashi, M., Shoji, N.. and Ohizumi, Y. Gingerol, a novel cardiotonic agent, activites Ca2- - pumping ATPase in skeletal and cardiac sarcoplasmic reticulum. Biochhimica et Biophysica Acta 1987; 903:96-102.
20. Kobayashi, M., Ishida, Y., Shoji, N., and Ohizumi, Y. Cardiotonic action of [8]-g(ngerol, an activator of the Ca** pumping adenosine triphosphatase of sarcoplasmic reticulum, in guinea pig atrial muscte. J.Pharmacol. Exp. Therap. 1988; 246:667-673.
21. Kawada, T, Sakabe, S, Watanabe, T., Yamamoto, M., and Twai, K., Some pungent principles of spices cause the adrenal medulla to secrete catecholamine in anesthetized rats. Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. 1988; 188:229-233.
22. Qureshi, S., Shah, A.M. Tariq, M., and Ageel, A.M. Studies on herbal aphrodisiacs used in Arab system of medicine. Amer. J. Chin. Med. 1989; 17:57-63.
23. Backon, J. Predicting new effective treatments of alcohot addiction on basis of their properties of inhibition of nor-adrenergic activity and/orthromboxane or on activation of dopamine reward system and/or beta-endorphin. Medical Hyposthesis 1989:29:237- 239.
24. Mowrey, D.B., and Clayson, D.E. Motion sickness, ginger and psychophysics. Lancet 1982; 1:655-657 25. Holtman. S., Clarke, A.H., Scherer, H., and Hohn, M. The anti-motion-sickness mechanism of ginger. Acomparative study with placebo and dimenhydrinate Acta Otolaryngol (Stockh.) 1989; 108:168-174.
26. Bone, M.E., Wilkinson, D.J., Young, J.R., McNeil, J., and Charfton, S. Ginger root - a new anti-emetic. The effect of ginger root on postoperative nausea and vomiting after major gynaecological surgery. Anesthesa 1990:45:669-671.
27. Srivastava, K.C.. and Mustafa, T. Ginger (Zingibf Offjcinale)and rheumaticdisorders. Hyposthesis 1989; 2925-28.
28. AI-Yahya, M.A., Rafatullah, S., Mossa, J.S., Ageel, A.M., Parmar, N.S., and Tariq, M. Gastroprotective activity of ginger Zingiber Offteinale Rose in albino rats. Amer. J. Chin. Mad 1989: 17:51-56.
29. EI-Menshawi, A., Elkadi. A., and Kandil, 0. Ginger Improves Natural Killer cell activity. Presented at 24th annual convention of IMA, Long Island, NY. July 1991 Abstract published in JIMA 1991; 23:133.
30. Etter, L.E., and Schumacher, F.L. Pulmonary Actinomycosis: Recovery After Thymol Therapy. J.A.M.A. 1939; 113-1023-1024.
31. Goodrich, H.P. and Way. G.L. Prevention of Throat Infection, Brit. Med. J. 1940: 1:768-769. 32. Patakova,D.,andChladek,M. Uberdieantibakterielle Aktivitat von Thymian und Quendelolen. Pharmazie 1974; 29:140-142.
33. Jensen. K.B., and Dyrud. C.K. The Smooth Muscle Relaxing Effect of Thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) Acta Pharmacol et Toxicol 1962: 19:345-355.
34. Van Den Brouke, C.O., and Semil, J.A.Pharmacological and Chemical Investigation of Thyme Liquid Extracts. Plants Media 1981: 41:129-135.


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