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Ginger for Osteoarthritis


I read and try to understand what Dr. Greger try to describe.  Ginger is part of almost all asian cultures. It adds flavor as well as substance to any food and very beneficial on it's own.

Below is an approximation of video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the video.

Ginger for Osteoarthritis

If ginger is so effective against migraines, and the pain of menstrual cramps, what about osteoarthritis—an all-too-common disorder that produces “chronic pain and disability?” The first major study, published in 2000, showed no benefit over placebo. But, the study only lasted three weeks.

The next, in 2001, lasted longer—six weeks—and was, by the end, indeed able to show significantly better results than placebo. But, the placebo did so well, reducing pain from like sixties on a scale of 1 to 100, down to like forties, that bringing pain down that extra little bit into the thirties was not especially clinically significant. And so, an editorial in the official journal of the American College of Rheumatology concluded that ginger “should not be recommended…for treatment of arthritis because of the limited efficacy.”

But, since that time, there’s been a few other trials that showed more impressive results—such that ginger is now considered indeed “able to reduce pain and disability in [osteoarthritis].”

But, how well, compared to other treatments? “[S]ince [osteoarthritis] is a chronic disease,” it’s especially important to weigh the risks versus benefit of treatment, and the commonly used anti-inflammatory drugs can carry “serious cardio-vascular and gastro-intestinal risks.”

For example, if you stick cameras down people with osteoarthritis on drugs like ibuprofen, nearly half were found to have major injuries to the lining of their small intestines—seven out of sixteen. Now, you can reduce that risk by taking an additional drug to counteract the side effects of the first drug. Ibuprofen-type drugs reduce our stomach lining’s ability to protect itself from the stomach acid; so, by blocking acid production with another drug, one can reduce the risk.

But, ginger can actually improve stomach lining protection. So, ginger, at the kinds of doses used to treat osteoarthritis, a quarter- to a half-teaspoon a day, can be considered not just neutral on the stomach, but beneficial. So, it can be as pain-relieving as ibuprofen, but without the risk of stomach ulcers.

Okay. But, this sounded a little nutty to me—topical ginger treatment, as in externally applying a ginger-soaked cloth or patch to the affected joint. It was a controlled study—compress versus patch—both showing remarkable and lasting pain relief for osteoarthritis sufferers.

But, what’s missing? Right, a control group—there was no placebo patch. I don’t care if “ginger has been applied [externally] to painful joints for…a thousand years.” The placebo effect has been shown to be remarkably effective in osteoarthritis to provide pain relief. So, until there’s a controlled study on topical ginger, I’m not going to believe it. But there wasn’t such a study, until twenty men stuck ginger slices onto their scrotum.

Men with inflamed testicles applied six to ten paper-thin slices of ginger over the affected testes. And, evidently, the ginger group healed nearly three times faster. Unfortunately, the original source is in Chinese; so, I can’t get further details, as is the only other controlled study on topical ginger I could find. This evidently translates to “evaluation of point plaster therapy with ginger powder in preventing nausea and vomiting [from] chemotherapy.”

We know ginger powder, taken orally, can be “a miracle against [chemo]-induced vomiting;” what about stuffing it into your belly button? The external application of ginger powder to the so-called “point of Shenque,” which is the navel, while the control group got potato powder into their belly button. And, lo and behold, the ginger group evidently had significantly less nausea and vomiting.

Unfortunately, only the abstract is in English; so, I can’t tell how they effectively blinded the patients to the treatment. I mean, presumably, it would be easy to tell whether or not you were in the ginger or placebo group by the smell. But, maybe they controlled for that. Until we know more, I would suggest those who want to try ginger use it in their stomach, rather than on their stomach.

Please be well.


NOTE: This is not my content.  This is a reprint of what is available to all from Dr. Greger's amazing website nutritionfacts.org.  Please consult with your health care provider for guidance in treating your condition.