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Study finds ginger a cost-effective treatment for muscle pain

Ginger has been tested on mice as having anti-inflammatory effects or the ability to reduce pain and swelling. However, its benefits on curing human muscle pain have not been well-established.

A recent study published in The Journal of Pain, the official publication of the American Pain Society, studied the effects of raw and heat-treated ginger supplementation on muscle pain of 74 participants. Two grams of either raw or heated ginger were consumed daily for 11 days. On the eighth day, the subjects performed eccentric (lengthening) exercises of the elbow flexor muscles to induce pain and inflammation. While the elbow was extended 18 times with weights, the researchers assessed the arm for pain intensity, function, strength and inflammation three days following exercise.

Results showed that consuming either raw or heat-treated ginger reduced muscle pain by 25 percent 24 hours after eccentric exercise compared to placebo. There was little difference noted between the two preparations, which meant that the healing effect of ginger was not enhanced by subjecting it to heat, as occurs with cooking.

The economic and personal costs of pain are extremely high, says study author Patrick O'Connor, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia. Muscle pain generally is one of the most common types of pain, and eccentric exercise-induced muscle pain specifically is a common type of injury related to sports and recreation (e.g., gardening). Anything that can truly relieve this type of pain will be greatly welcomed by the many people who are experiencing it.

The authors affirmed that daily consumption of raw or heat-treated ginger can cause moderate-to-large reduction in muscle pain resulting from exercise-induced muscle injury. They also pointed out that their findings coincide with those claiming hypoalgesic (pain-relieving) effects of ginger in osteoarthritis (degenerative disease of the joints caused by wear and tear).


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Arif B. Khan, MD, is the medical director of Texas Interventional Pain Care, an interventional pain center specializing in the treatment of many painful conditions, and located at 2201 N. Central Express Way, Suite 171, Richardson, TX 75080; 4800 North Galloway Ave. Suite 300 Mesquite, Texas 75150. Phone: 972-952-0290 or fax 972-952-0293.