Ginger for arthritis pain: Will it work?

Ginger provides the most health benefits when consumed raw, but may also be beneficial in oil, juice, or powdered forms.
Ginger is most commonly known as a unique, aromatic spice, but it has also long been used in traditional and modern medicines. Ginger may be beneficial in managing the inflammation and pain of arthritis, owing to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Ginger is a flowering plant native to several Asian countries, as well as West Africa and the Caribbean. It has been used in traditional Asian medicine for centuries and has been applied to treat a range of conditions from motion sickness to digestive problems.

This article will explore the impact that ginger has on the body, whether it can help with arthritis, and how to consume it.

Fast facts on ginger for arthritis:

  • Studies have shown that ginger can have a positive impact on reducing inflammation and discomfort in people with arthritis when compared to control groups.
  • The medicinal properties of ginger are derived from the root or rhizome of the plant, and its stem.
  • Ginger is best consumed raw but is available in powder form, capsules, and oils, or as juice.


How does ginger work?

Inflammation is an essential immune response that allows the body to heal wounds and fight infections. The capacity for ginger to reduce inflammation is what underlies many of its medical uses.

Inflammation describes the self-protective process by which the body releases white blood cells to combat infection and clear out harmful organisms, such as bacteria.

Inflammation can cause discomfort, particularly when it is chronic. Inflammation is common in many types of arthritis and contributes towards pain around the affected joints.

The primary therapeutic goal of treating arthritis is to minimize the discomfort it causes, as there are currently no cures for the condition.


What does the evidence say?

Elderly person with arthritis opening a jar.
Ginger is generally considered beneficial for treating the symptoms of arthritis, not the cause.

One study included 247 participants with a common type of arthritis called osteoarthritis. The study found that those given ginger capsules twice a day for 6 months had a significantly greater reduction in pain than a control group. However, these participants were also more likely to experience side effects, such as heartburn, than the control group.

Other studies have indicated that ginger may be comparable to ibuprofen in terms of effectiveness.

A recent review concluded that people with osteoarthritis experienced a 30 percent greater pain reduction than a control group, and they were twice as likely to discontinue their treatment compared to a control group.

The benefits of consuming ginger are not restricted to osteoarthritis but can also reduce inflammation in other common forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

These pain-relieving properties of ginger have been extended to the treatment of muscular pain. A 2010 study found that consuming either raw or heated ginger caused a moderate to large reduction in muscular pain, following an injury.

The overall consensus

The majority of current studies indicate the benefits of ginger, but some studies have also found no effect of ginger on relieving pain or reducing inflammation in arthritis.

While more research is needed to provide any definitive answers, ginger is not considered harmful and is more likely to be useful in managing the symptoms of arthritis.


How to take ginger

Ginger can be consumed raw or in powdered form. It can be consumed on its own and can be readily bought, as a capsule for oral consumption.

People use ginger in cooking, particularly in Asian dishes, such as stir-fry or curry. Alternatively, it can be brewed, as a tea, or made into syrup to flavor cold drinks.

Ginger can also be applied directly to inflamed areas of the body in the form of a cream or oil.

Dosage should be kept around 2-4 grams (g), taken up to 3 times per day. However, it is recommended not to exceed 4 g per day.



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