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Ginger and Symptomatic Relief for Arthritis Sufferers

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By Deborah Cooper, ArthritisSupport Staff • • June 13, 2000

Ginger and Symptomatic Relief for Arthritis Sufferers

A trip to the grocery store may be all that arthritis sufferers need for some relief from pain and inflammation. Ginger root, (Zingiber officinale), demonstrates anti-inflammatory action without the adverse effects of other medications.

Ginger or Drugs?

Aspirin used for pain relief also blocks some of the enzymes involved when arachidonic acid is released. Drugs aimed at reducing inflammation have the same goal but they work in a haphazard way. All enzymes, whether they are beneficial to health or not, may be affected by the drugs. Ginger, however, is able to target the enzymes more specifically.

A class of drugs called COX- 2 inhibitors hit the news recently as anti-inflammatory treatment for arthritis sufferers. Scientists have not yet investigated the long-term results of using COX-2 inhibitors. Ginger may be an effective, safe alternative until more drug studies are completed.

How Does Inflammation Begin?

Many stimuli can trigger inflammation, including metabolism of animal and fish fats, environmental substances and reactions to illness. A metabolic process releases, a liquid considered essential in animal nutrition from cells called arachidonic acid. This triggers many other chemical processes, some of which are known to play a large role in chronic conditions. Ginger blocks enzymes important to the chemical events occurring in the body when arachidonic acid is released.

Scientific Evidence for Ginger

Ginger in various forms has undergone several scientific tests. In one Danish study, powdered ginger extract was used on fifty-six patients with inflammatory conditions. More than three-quarters of the participants experienced relief in pain and swelling, to some extent. All patients experienced pain relief, and no side effects were reported.

Ginger oil was given orally to rats with severe chronic arthritis, for twenty-six days. The results saw a significant reduction in paw and joint swelling. The most recent study reported last January compared the common pain reliever ibuprofen to ginger in trials lasting three weeks. Although the tests proved statistically inconclusive for ginger usage, patients did report some symptomatic relief, suggesting that future studies of longer duration or increased dosage may offer more definitive results.

A Traditional Home Remedy

Ginger root has been a traditional home remedy in many cultures from India to the West Indies. Having some on hand to make into a poultice can at least provide some temporary relief. Grate a piece of the fresh root, place it in a hot cloth and apply the cloth to the inflamed area. Use a towel to wrap a hot water bottle over the cloth. Ginger may cause a skin reaction in some people so check often for any adverse response.

As with any medications, always check with your health care provider before taking, or ceasing to take, any medications.

Sources: Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 2000
Med Hypotheses

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