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The Benefits of Ginger for Arthritis

written by: BStone • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 1/17/2011

Ginger has so many health benefits, from stimulating circulation to reducing inflammation. Learn the facts on ginger, arthritis, and your well-being.

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    Why Ginger?

    ginger root arthritis Ginger root is a warming, stimulating herb. It has been appreciated for its medicinal properties for thousands of years, extremely popular as a healing plant in both China and India. Rich in volatile oils and antioxidant compounds it can be used for a range of common ailments, from an upset stomach to joint inflammation. Why is ginger beneficial for arthritis? How effective is it and is it worth adding to your diet if you suffer from some form of this disease?

    Ginger is a traditional remedy for inflammation, making it a useful herb for treating painful, inflamed joints. It also increases blood circulation. This is helpful for relieving pain but also encouraging the healing process and the removal of toxins from the body, two actions that arthritis sufferers can benefit from. According to a researcher at the University of Miami Medical School who studied the effects of ginger supplements on arthritis patients, Professor Altman, clinical trials have shown ginger to produce similar benefits to the use of conventional drugs. While many of the drugs used to treat joint pain and inflammation come with their negative side effects, ginger on the other hand boasts an array of positive side effects, boosting immune health and digestive well-being.

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    Studies

    Ginger has been investigated for its anti-inflammatory benefits and potential as a natural treatment for arthritis. According to Arthritis Today, one study showed that ginger is effective because it inhibits chemicals in the body that cause inflammation. The University of Maryland Medical Center mentions a study involving 261 osteoarthritis patients who suffered from knee pain and inflammation. It was found that taking ginger extract two times a day reduced pain and the need for medications. Other studies have shown that taking ginger is just as effective as taking over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen.

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    The Many Ways to Enjoy Ginger

    It is easy to include ginger in your diet if you want to enjoy its health benefits. Simply cooking with fresh ginger root, adding it to flavor stir-frys, stews, and roasts, is a great way to spice up your cooking as well as to improve your well-being. You can also drink an herbal infusion. To make ginger tea for arthritis steep one teaspoonful of chopped, fresh ginger root in one cup of boiling water for about five minutes. Drink throughout the day to relieve pain. Ginger supplements are also available in tincture and capsule form — always purchase a trusted, natural source and follow the dosage instructions on the packaging. To use ginger for arthritis try drinking one cup of ginger tea a day or taking some type of supplement, as well as adding fresh ginger to your diet.

    While there are not generally any negative side effects it is important to talk to your doctor about your treatment decisions. In excess ginger can cause mouth irritation, diarrhea, and mild heartburn. It may not be safe for people taking anticoagulants or who have gallstones.

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    References

    University of Maryland Medical Center <http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ginger-000246.htm>

    "Ginger eases arthritis pain." (BBC News, November, 2001) <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1665874.stm>

    Arthritis Today <http://www.arthritistoday.org/treatments/supplement-guide/supplements/ginger.php>

    Balch, Phyllis A. "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).

    Hoffmann, David. "The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies." (Element Books, 1996).

    photo by Crystal/flickr