By Stephen Bitsoli
Most people know that ginger helps relieve upset stomach and nausea. But did you know that ginger acts as a natural pain reliever? In this guest post, Stephen explains some of the health benefits ginger has to offer, why ginger may ease fibromyalgia pain and ways to get more ginger in your diet.
Ginger May Help with Fibromyalgia Pain
My father introduced me to ginger in the form of ginger ale (Canada Dry and Vernor’s), Stone’s Original Green Ginger Wine, crystallized (candied) ginger and ginger tea, but I think my ginger intake really picked up when my family physician prescribed ginger capsules for a persistent ear problem.
Since then I’ve been accused of claiming ginger has health benefits for everything from nausea to the common cold. (It may even sober up drunks or be a short-term hangover cure. Maybe ginger should be a luxury alcohol rehab staple.)
The fact is I like ginger, and my health has been better since I started consuming copious quantities of it, so yeah, I’m a bit of a missionary for it. (And no, I don’t own a ginger farm.) I keep learning new uses for it. The latest: it may help ease fibromyalgia pain.
The evidence is mostly speculative, associative or anecdotal, but one blogger noted, “While there have been no clinical studies involving ginger for fibromyalgia, there are some studies which have been performed with ginger in other inflammatory diseases, such as osteoarthritis. It is entirely possible that the results noted in osteoarthritis patients could apply to those with fibromyalgia.”
EmaxHealth reported on some of those studies. “One study from the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that ginger compress therapy could help patients with osteoarthritis. Patients reported more energy, better mobility, increased flexibility and less pain. Medical experts who have examined the study believe that it may also help fibromyalgia patients.”
Also, “A different study, published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, found that ginger extract could reduce knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis… and medical experts believe that the findings may apply to others who suffer from chronic pain such as fibromyalgia patients.”
Progressive Health further concurred, “Of possibly the most importance to fibromyalgia patients is ginger’s effectiveness as a [natural] pain reliever” with aspirin-like qualities, confirmed by Cornell University researchers in 1980.
“A clinical trial published in a 1989 edition of the Kellogg Report demonstrated that rheumatoid arthritis patients who took fresh or powdered ginger root for three months experienced greater pain relief than with NSAIDS [nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs] such as ibuprofen. … A second study confirmed these findings, stating that 75 percent of the study subjects found pain relief and reduced swelling,” with “absolutely no side effects.”
Actually, while ginger is “GRAS or generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration,” EmaxHealth noted, “it has several side effects,” most commonly stomach pain, gas, and heartburn. It also “can interfere with some drugs,” including anticoagulants or blood thinners.
Even aspirin can cause problems. “Pay attention to any bruising or bleeding because they can be signs of a serious problem.”As with any dietary supplement or medicine, your doctor can warn you of potentially dangerous interactions.
If you and your doctor think ginger would make a good addition to your diet or treatment, there are a variety of ways to use it:
For cooking and baking. Many Asian recipes call for ginger.
Take ginger powder in capsules.
Eat sliced ginger like candy.
Make a compress and apply it to your joints.
Make a tea with ginger and turmeric.
Take as a juice or liquid extract.
My personal favorite ways to have ginger are:
Beverages Trader Joe’s Uncrystallized Ginger. I also liked Williams Sonoma’s Australian Crystallized Ginger, but it’s no longer available. Goya Jamaican Style Ginger Beer. Not an alcoholic beverage, but more like Vernor’s Ginger Ale on steroids. I prefer Stewart’s Ginger beer, but the British brew is no longer available in this country. If you do want a hard drink, add vodka and lime juice (in a copper cup, please) for a Moscow Mule, or rum for a Dark and Stormy. (If I liked these a little better, I might need to spend some time in a luxury alcohol rehab.)
Ginger nuts. It’s a hard ginger cookie I bake myself. I first read about them in Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener.”
In an article on Medical News Today, Megan Ware also credits ginger as a home remedy for nausea (such as induced by cancer chemotherapy or morning sickness) that lowers the risks of heart disease and diabetes also.
Among its other uses, according to “10 Health Benefits of Ginger” by Dr. Edward Group, it calms vomiting, eases digestive complaints such as constipation and flatulence, protects the brain from some chemicals that cause redness, reduces the severity of migraines, protects against damaging UV, hypertension and osteoarthritis, and even promotes healthy blood pressure,” although “it does have potential to increase the risk of acid reflux.”
Ginger also may have anti-addictive properties (another reason to stock it at a luxury alcohol rehab), be an appetite suppressant, promote respiratory health and help reduce blood sugar for diabetics. According to a paper by Drs. Shima Torkzadeh-Mahani, Sima Nasri, and Saeed Esmaeili-Mahani, “ginger extract has a potential anti-addictive property against chronic usage of morphine.”
Ginger root also is a home remedy for alcoholism – a tablespoon of ginger juice (with another of lemon juice) in a glass of water may cut alcohol cravings – though likely not one you’d find at even at a luxury alcohol rehab.
I don’t believe ginger is a cure-all. Despite all these possible benefits, I doubt I’d go out of my way to eat ginger if I didn’t like it. But I really, really like it. You might like it, too, And it may have these health benefits. Give it a try.