Ginger May Provide Arthritis Relief

Ginger has been touted as a cure for nausea and vomiting for thousands of years, as well as a treatment for colic and heart trouble. But did you know that it also reduces inflammation, and there's evidence that its anti-inflammatory properties may help people with arthritis?

In a 2001 University of Miami study, 261 patients with knee osteoarthritis received either a twice-daily dose of ginger extract or a placebo. After six weeks, the subjects were asked whether they experienced less knee pain upon standing than before. The results were significant: 63 percent of the ginger-taking group experienced less knee pain upon standing, while 50 percent of the control group did. They also experienced less knee pain when walking than the control group did. It appears that ginger suppresses certain biochemicals responsible for inflammation. Since arthritis pain and discomfort results largely from inflammation in the joints, it stands to reason that ingesting ginger may help relieve these symptoms.

While ginger is an ingredient in certain popular goods and beverages such as ginger cookies, gingerbread, and ginger ale, the amount of ginger in these products is negligible, at least from a health standpoint. For a more concentrated anti-inflammatory dose, you'll want to take ginger capsules or powdered extract. You also can drink ginger tea or chew on a piece of fresh ginger for relief.

Although generally acknowledged to be a safe herb, ginger does have some side effects. If eaten excessively it can cause heartburn and diarrhea and may irritate your mouth. If you find yourself with an upset stomach after swallowing ginger, try using it in capsule form. Also, be aware that ginger has blood-thinning properties and may not be appropriate for you if you have any sort of bleeding disorder or are on blood-thinning medications. And if you have gallstone issues, make sure you let your doctor know you're thinking of taking ginger for arthritis relief.

Sources: University of Maryland Medical Center,;Arthritis Foundation,;Altman RD, Marcussen KC (2001). Effects of a Ginger Extract on Kee Pain in Patients With Osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheumatism, 44(11), 2531-2538; Grzanna R, Lindmark L, Frondoza CG (2005).Ginger-An Herbal Medicinal Product with Broad Anti-Inflammatory Actions. Journal of Medicinal Food, 8(2), 125-132.