When arthritis pain strikes, relief for swollen joints might be as close as your kitchen. Long used as a traditional remedy for joint pain and stiffness, recent research into ginger and arthritis has indicated that this spicy herb might offer a safe, natural alternative to medication. While studies are still ongoing and the effectiveness of ginger for arthritis pain is not completely clear, trying ginger seems unlikely to cause harm and might provide significant benefits. Ask your doctor if taking ginger would be suitable for you.
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Arthritis encompasses a number of different conditions that affect the joints, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and gout. In all forms of arthritis, the joints become sore, inflamed, stiff or swollen. In some cases, arthritis develops as the result of a lifetime of wear and tear on the joint or after an illness. In others, the cause of arthritis remains unknown. Medication to treat arthritis can help alleviate pain, but could come with unwanted side effects.
Traditional Ginger Treatment
The herb ginger is the underground stem of the plant Zingiber officinale. Ginger is used both as a cooking spice and as a component of traditional Chinese, Arabic and Indian herbal medicines. One traditional use of ginger is as a treatment for inflammation, including joint pain caused by arthritis. The long history of ginger as a spice indicates that it is likely safe to use. Most people tolerate ginger well and the few reported side effects tend to be mild. Some people experience nausea, heartburn or diarrhea when using ginger.
Ginger for Arthritis
Ginger might help decrease joint pain for some types of arthritis. In particular, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis both seem to be amenable to treatment using ginger. Several small studies, such as a 2001 study in the journal "Arthritis & Rheumatism," have found that using ginger to reduce arthritis pain was more effective than using a placebo. The evidence remains mixed, however, since other trials have not found ginger to be helpful in relieving arthritis pain. Further research is required before definitive recommendations about ginger can be made. As with other arthritis treatments, ginger does not cure the disease but can only help alleviate symptoms.
Ginger can be consumed in whole or powdered form in doses of 2 to 4 grams daily. Alternatively, 2 to 4 grams of ginger extract, juice or tea can be taken twice per day. You can also apply ginger oil or whole root topically or create a warm compress to place on inflamed joints. Avoid taking more than 4 grams of ginger per day, including any ginger consumed in the diet as well as ginger taken in supplement form.