Using Ginger Root for Pain Relief

Ginger root is more than just a tasty cooking herb, it is also excellent for pain relief.

You may already know about some of the ways ginger root helps in healing. For example, used fresh it is an excellent choice for relieving nausea. You will also see it in formulas for helping with indigestion, cough and early stage cold symptoms.

But one of the best uses for ginger root is in relieving pain. Its uses for pain relief cover many different kinds of pain. Here are some of the documented uses for it:

  • Abdominal cramps from diverticulosis or Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Alleviating exercise-induced muscle pain
  • Reducing joint pain from osteoarthritis & rheumatoid arthritis
  • Alleviating migraine headaches
  • Toothache relief
  • Reducing menstrual pain

One study showed the power of ginger for reducing pain. The Journal of Pain published the results of this study in April 2010. Participants in this study were people who exercised regularly. The 74 subjects received either ginger or a placebo for 11 days. Some of those receiving ginger got unheated ginger and some go heat-treated ginger.

After the 11 days, they did a set of 18 arm ‘curls’ with a heavy weight. These exercises caused minor muscle injury to the arm. Over the next three days, subjects underwent tests for arm function, inflammation and pain.

Results showed that people taking ginger had 25% less pain than the placebo group. The reduction was the same for both heat-treated and unheated ginger. That means if you exercise and get sore muscles, ginger will help reduce the soreness. Notably, it does this without the side effects of NSAID drugs.

If this natural herbal pain remedy works for so many types of pain, how, exactly does it do this?

Recent research shows that ginger reduces the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. This is similar to how non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs work. However, unlike NSAIDs, ginger also counteracts some of the side effects seen in NSAID use. It does this by lowering production of Leukotriene B4. This means ginger has fewer side effects than drugs.

Ginger also decreases the action of a number of genes that add to the inflammatory response. That means it reduces chronic pain at a deeper level. This is probably part of why ginger helps reduce joint pain.

In addition, for people who still feel the need for anti-inflammatory drugs there is an extra bonus. At least one study shows that ginger protects the stomach from the toxic effects of NSAIDs.

You can find ginger in capsules, liquid tinctures and pill form. Ginger is also available fresh in the produce section of most grocery stores.

All the best to you for your health and happiness,

Dr. Bruce Eichelberger

Dr. Bruce

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References:

Hyperhealth Pro Database, In-Tele-Health, Hansville, WA, 2008.

Ginger – the herbal aspirin? Part 2. Mediherb Professional Newsletter. 53:1-2, 1996.

Hadley, S. K., et al. Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. American Family Physician. 72(12):2501-2506, 2005.

Cady, R. K., et al. Gelstat Migraine (sublingually administered feverfew and ginger compound) for acute treatment of migraine when administered during the mild pain phase. Med Sci Monit. 11(9):PPI65-PI69, 2005.

Butlin, J. The use of herbs and phytonutrients in pain and inflammation. Positive Health. 60, 2001.

Ozgoli, G., et al. Comparison of effects of ginger, mefenamic acid, and ibuprofen on pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 15(2): 129-132, 2009.

Grzanna, R., et al. Ginger – an herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions. Journal of Medicinal Food. 8(2):125-132, 2005.

Christopher D. Black, Matthew P. Herring, David J. Hurley, Patrick J. O’Connor. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) Reduces Muscle Pain Caused by Eccentric Exercise.” The Journal of Pain, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.jpain.2009.12.013

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