A daily dose of ginger can naturally reduce muscle pain by up to 25%, according to research by the University of Georgia. Whether you’ve overdone it on the treadmill, spent all day gardening, or simply strained yourself spring cleaning, ginger is a safe and effective way to reduce common muscle aches.
How did ginger affect inflammation and pain levels in the study?
The study, which will be published in the The Journal of Pain, included 74 volunteers who each took a two gram dose of either ginger or a placebo every day for 11 days. On day eight the volunteers lifted weights to induce moderate muscle injury in their arms.
Records were kept for each volunteer showing pain levels, inflammation, and arm function before the exercise, and for three days afterwards. The researchers also monitored levels of a chemical known to control perception of pain in the body.
The results of the study clearly showed that taking a daily two gram dose of ginger reduced the pain caused by weight lifting by around 25%. According to Professor Patrick O’Connor, lead researcher on the study, “Anything that can truly relieve this type of pain will be greatly welcomed by the many people who are experiencing it.”
How does ginger reduce muscle ache?
Ginger is thought to have naturally occurring anti-inflammatory properties, similar to pharmaceutical drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin. These anti-inflammatory properties have long been observed in rodents. While the impact of ginger on human muscle pain may have been largely ignored, it has previously been suggested that ginger could relieve the joint pain associated with arthritis.
Other health benefits of ginger
Ginger can be used to naturally treat a wide variety of health complaints which include:
- Digestive problems: Ginger stimulates the production of digestive enzymes which neutralize stomach acid, break down fatty foods and proteins, and help to reduce gas, nausea and diarrhea. Ginger is particularly useful for treating morning or motion sickness.
- Colds and respiratory illness: Ginger is an expectorant, so it helps to dissolve heavy mucus and to bring it up from the lungs. Ginger also has warming properties that make it ideal for bringing out a fever.
- Cardiovascular disease: Ginger stimulates blood circulation, and relaxes the muscles around blood vessels, helping to prevent blood clots from forming. It is also believed that ginger can help to reduce the absorption of LDL cholesterol that can lead to heart disease.
- Cancerous tumors: There has been some indication that ginger could help to slow down or even prevent the growth of cancerous tumors in animals, although this has yet to be confirmed and tested in humans.
- Kidney damage: It is possible that ginger could help to prevent the kidney damage often associated with diabetes, but again this effect has been seen in animals and is yet to be tested in humans.
How to take a daily dose of ginger
There are several ways to include ginger in your diet, and cooking with raw ginger is one of the easiest. Ginger can be used to flavor curries, oriental dishes, and sauces, or can be used in salads. Use in spiced meat dishes such as ginger chicken. Heating ginger does not seem to reduce its anti-inflammatory properties.
Drinking ginger tea is another way to receive your daily dose, and is a great way to treat nausea. Steep three slices of root ginger in boiled water until it is cool enough to drink.
For those who don’t like the strong taste of ginger, dietary supplements can be taken in capsule form. Look for capsules that use ginger extract, retaining the volatile ingredients gingerol and zingerone, rather than powdered ginger.