Social media claims that ginger treatments applied to the skin have amazing healing properties, clearing mucus from the lungs overnight and stopping a severe cough.
On May 13, a New Zealand-themed Instagram posted a meme showing a picture of a child with a bandage on his chest.
“A packet of ginger can remove mucus from the lungs and stop coughing completely in just one night,” the meme’s text reads. Accounts in other locations such as the Philippines, Portugal, and the United States shared similar memories.
Ginger may have beneficial properties, but experts say there is no medical evidence to support the health claims, and it is biologically implausible for such treatments to be effective on the skin.
Ginger has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, and a 2011 journal suggested that its compounds could be used in respiratory tract infections based on laboratory tests on human cells.
Research has shown that gingerols and shogaols, the pungent aromatic compounds found in fresh and dried ginger rhizomes, have a wide range of biological properties, including antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiallergic properties when used therapeutically.
Ginger has also been cited in online articles for its potential at-home uses, such as treating acute bronchitis and preventing colds, but these articles provide little or no medical evidence to support the claims and often focus on oral use. ginger than applied to the skin.
For example, one article highlights a review published by Iranian scientists in the Journal of Natural Medicines of Jundishapur as a source of ancient folk recipes for traditional medicine, but notes that the review needs more research to support its health benefits.
In an article for WebMD by pediatrician and medical editor Hansa Bhargava, ginger is a popular folk remedy for a variety of ailments, from indigestion to nausea and menstrual cramps. His abstract did not suggest that applying it to the skin could clear mucus congestion or stop a cough, but noted that it was unclear whether ginger compresses could relieve pain.
Research leader Professor Brian Oliver of the Woolcock Institute, which specializes in viral respiratory infections, told AAP FactCheck in a phone interview that there is no real evidence that ginger is effective against colds and flu.
Professor Oliver says many herbal medicines have their origins in traditional Chinese medicine, which combines many ingredients.
“However, there is no evidence to support the benefits of ginger alone, whether taken as a tea or applied to the skin,” he said.
Euben Moodley, an associate professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Western Australia’s Institute of Respiratory Health, told AAP FactCheck that the claim is largely implausible because of the wide spectrum of coughs and underlying lung diseases.
“There are no studies that have studied ginger to any extent or that, to my knowledge, have recommended that doctors use it in our practice,” he said in a phone interview.
Both experts were skeptical about how ginger would affect the lungs when applied to the skin.
Professor Oliver said the approach was “the wrong way to deliver” and it would be “fantastic” if it worked.
“Everything in ginger can be absorbed through the skin, into the bloodstream, around the body, into the lungs, and can cure coughs and colds,” he said.
Shawn Holt, a New Zealand pharmacist and MD who has written several books on natural products, told AAP FactCheck that he could find no evidence that ginger packs on his chest help clear mucus from the lungs or cure bad diseases. cough.
He also said it’s biologically implausible that enough ginger could penetrate the bloodstream through the skin to have an effect, or that a person wearing a pack would inhale enough vapor.
“Nausea is another issue, and ginger has been shown to be effective; one large study found it to be effective for chemotherapy-induced nausea at the right dose,” he says.
The Cochrane Reviews website, a non-profit collection of scientific systematic reviews, identifies specific benefits of ginger consumption other than nausea.