Clinical research has proven that ginger can help relieve osteoarthritis when applied topically.
Clinical research proves topical ginger effective
Such is the conclusion of research from Australia’s Edith Cowan University. The research confirmed an ancient treatment – that osteoarthritis pain is decreased and mobility is improved with the application of ginger root topically.
The researchers recruited 20 adults between the ages of 35 and 90 years old – average age of 64 years old. All of the volunteers had been diagnosed with osteoarthritis. 85% of the patients had osteoarthritis of the knees and/or hips. The question was whether or not ginger treats osteoarthritis.
The researchers randomly divided the patients into two groups, and treated half of them with a ginger (Zingiber officinalis) compress, and half with a ginger transdermal patch – a patent-pending product from New Zealand.
The patients applied the patch or compress daily. They were monitored weekly with a Health Assessment Questionnaire throughout the 24 week study.
The patients in both groups experienced significant improvement in pain, fatigue, well-being and mobility after only seven days, and this improvement increased through the study. At the end of the 24-weeks, 82% were satisfied with their treatment. The patients were 70% satisfied with their treatment results even after the first week of treatment.
Before the study, 80% of the patients were dissatisfied with their (conventional) treatment for their osteoarthritis.
Even after the first week of treatment there was a significant improvement in pain (decreased by 48%), fatigue (decreased by 49%), well-being (increased by 40%), and mobility (increased by 31%).
These numbers increased through the duration the study. The conclusion was that the topical application of ginger treats osteoarthritis.
The researchers concluded:
“This pilot study suggests ginger therapy using both the ginger compress and ginger patch has the potential to relieve symptoms and increase independence for people with osteoarthritis.”
This is not the first study to find that ginger has the ability to decrease inflammation and reduce pain in general, as well as among arthritis patients. Studies have found that ginger extract blocks cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and lipoxygenase-5 (LOX-5) enzymes.
And a new study from Iran’s Tabriz University of Medical Sciences tested 64 diabetics and found that oral consumption of ginger decreased pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-alpha, as well as hs-CRP levels – indicators of inflammation.
Other clinical research supports conclusion
The topical application of ginger is not new among ancient medicines. And other research is proving its efficacy.
Researchers from Thailand’s Thammasat University School of Medicine conducted a randomized, double-blind study with 50 osteoarthritis patients for six weeks. They gave half of the patients a conventional treatment gel of the NSAID diclofenac, and half the patients a gel containing 4% ginger root and extract of plai (Zingiber cassumunar) – a product called Plygersic gel.
Both groups were treated for six weeks, and their symptoms were measured using the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score. The researchers then conducted analysis of variance statistical modeling. They determined that the ginger and plai (Plygersic gel) relieved pain and improved mobility similarly to the treatment with the NSAID gel.
The researchers concluded:
“Plygersic gel relieves joint pain and improves problematic symptoms and improves the quality of life in osteoarthritis knees during a 6 week treatment regimen with no differences to the 1% Diclofenac gel group.”
Internal ginger also reduces inflammation
The anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in osteoarthritis are also experienced when ginger is taken orally.
This is evidenced in another recent study from Russia’s Gastroenterology Scientific Research Institute in Moscow.
The researchers tested 43 patients with knee and hip osteoarthritis. They gave 21 of the patients a ginger extract at 340 milligrams a day for four weeks. The other 23 patients received 100 milligrams of the NSAID diclofenac per day – a conventional osteoarthritis treatment.
The patients were tested with biopsy and for inflammatory factors relating to prostaglandins among the stomach and esophagus. They were also tested for arthritic pain levels before and after the treatment period, using the visual analogue scale (or VAS) – which measures pain in combination with mobility.
The researchers found that both groups had a similar reduction in pain, but the group taking the ginger did not suffer from the various effects typical of NSAID medication – including increased levels of stomach mucosa prostaglandins PGE1, PGE2 and PGF2alpha. These prostaglandin increases directly relate to an increased risk of ulceration, as the stomach mucosal membrane loses its protective abilities with NSAID use.
In their conclusion the researchers wrote:
“The ginger combination is as effective as diclofenac but safer in treating OA, being without effect on the stomach mucosa. The increased mucosal PGs synthesis in the ginger group supports an increased mucosa-protective potential. VAS; visual analogue scale, 0-100 mm.”
Numerous other studies support ginger’s ability to reduce inflammation and pain. This is why ginger is one of the oldest remedies for pain in traditional medicine – crossing over many cultures and medicines.
Nature has formulated pain reduction in combination with synergistic buffering abilities. This is why ginger is also used in traditional medicine to treat ulcerous conditions.
Therkleson T. Topical Ginger Treatment for Osteoarthritis Symptoms. J Holist Nurs. 2013 Dec 4.
Niempoog S, Siriarchavatana P, Kajsongkram T. The efficacy of Plygersic gel for use in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. J Med Assoc Thai. 2012 Oct;95 Suppl 10:S113-9.
Mahluji S, Ostadrahimi A, Mobasseri M, Ebrahimzade Attari V, Payahoo L. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Zingiber Officinale in Type 2 Diabetic Patients. Adv Pharm Bull. 2013;3(2):273-276.
Drozdov VN, Kim VA, Tkachenko EV, Varvanina GG. Influence of a specific ginger combination on gastropathy conditions in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Jun;18(6):583-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0202.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.