A flowering plant from the Zingiberaceae family, cultivated by humans for its commercial value. Originally from Maritime Southeast Asia and also native to China, West Africa and the Caribbean. Ginger has been used in both Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
For centuries ginger has been used for a wide range of ailments, including allergic rhinitis, digestive issues, nausea, and arthritis. For arthritis, ginger is claimed to reduce inflammation and joint pain.
Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (e.g. ibuprofen), ginger acts on the inhibition of cyclooxygenase enzymes 1&2. It also switches off certain inflammatory genes.
There is promising evidence for ginger to play a role in the management of inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis. A human study in 2022 found that supplementation of 1.5g/day of ginger in 63 patients with rheumatoid arthritis obtained a significant reduction of inflammatory markers.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
A 2022 review of the effect of ginger on inflammatory diseases highlights that ginger is a potential in the management of systemic lupus erythematosus as it has proven anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. One of ginger’s active compounds, 6-shoagol appears to be protective against lupus.
The same review also highlights that ginger’s anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it a candidate for a short-term alternative treatment in people with psoriasis.
One trial in 2001 resulted in a significant difference in knee pain when standing for people who took a ginger extract supplement compared to placebo (63% ginger vs 50% placebo). But a review in 2020 on the effectiveness of ginger and pain in knee osteoarthritis concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of a ginger supplement or topical application for pain relief and knee function improvement.
Ginger is a pretty safe herbal remedy with only mild side effects including upset stomach, mouth irritation, and heartburn.
If you are taking anticoagulant medication such as warfarin, ginger may increase the risk of bleeding.
It should not be taken if you have gallstones.
Where to find it
The root of the ginger plant is used as a spice in cooking so you can find fresh ginger at your local supermarket, green grocer, or farmers market. You cany buy ground, crystallised ginger and ginger tea from most places you buy your groceries. Online and at health stores you will find ginger liquid extract, syrup, and capsule supplements.