For centuries, ginger root has been used as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments such as colds and upset stomachs. But now, researchers at the University of Georgia have found that taking ginger every day reduces muscle pain caused by exercise.
Ginger has been used throughout the ages to treat a variety of illnesses, including gastrointestinal upset, colds and the flu. It does contain anti-inflammatory chemicals, that have been confirmed in laboratory animals. Taking one gram a day of ginger is an effective dose to relieve nausea in pregnant women, according to another study.
Other studies have determined that ginger root can relieve certain types of chronic pain, such as that caused by osteoarthritis.
This study is one of the first to exam its effect on experimentally-induced human muscle pain, according to Patrick O'Connor, a professor in the College of Education's department of kinesiology.
Interesting, and unique to ginger, is the belief that heating the herb, through cooking, might increase its pain-relieving effects.
O'Connor conducted two unique studies examining the effects of 11 days of raw and heat-treated ginger supplementation on muscle pain.
The studies’ participants in the studies, 34 and 40 volunteers, respectively, consumed capsules containing two grams of either raw or heat-treated ginger or a placebo for 11 consecutive days. On the eighth day they performed various strenuous exercises involving the arms. Arm function, inflammation, pain and a biochemical involved in pain were assessed prior to and for three days after exercise.
The researchers then measured the volunteers' pain and took related conducted lab tests determining the degree of muscle inflammation and the presence of chemicals linked to inflammation.
The studies found that daily ginger supplementation reduced the exercise-induced pain by 25 percent, and the effect was not enhanced or diminished by heat-treating the ginger.
"The economic and personal costs of pain are extremely high," said O'Connor. "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/or 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."
Ginger may provide even greater relief than aspirin for post-exercise muscle pain. But you have to take ginger over the course of days for it to be effective. r.
O’Connor plans to conduct additional research with a second phase to find out whether taking one gram of ginger a day - half the amount in the UGA researchers' study - will work to lower exercise induced pain.
The study, which will be published in the September issue of The Journal of Pain, is currently available online at http://www.jpain.org/home.
Source: University of Georgia