Throughout history, ginger has been used to treat nausea and digestive problems. Now science has confirmed its beneficial properties for those with arthritis—both for inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis and degenerative arthritis like osteoarthritis.
See What Are Anti-Inflammatory Foods?
Ginger’s beneficial properties
Lab studies have shown that ginger’s benefits come from several different compounds, including gingerols and shogaols. These compounds have both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. In addition to arthritis, ginger is also beneficial for treating digestive or heart conditions—even cancer.1
The anti-inflammatory properties seem to help relieve pain and improve function for all types of arthritis. The compounds in ginger can function as a COX-2 inhibitor, the same way as common medications for rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis.2
These benefits extend to those with osteoarthritis too. One review of 5 studies found that those with osteoarthritis who took ginger had a 30% decrease in pain and a 22% reduction in disability, compared with control groups.3
Ways to add ginger to your diet
Experts recommend that the most effective way to get the benefits of ginger is to take a daily supplement of 100 to 225 mg. Be sure to check with your doctor before adding any supplements, since ginger can interfere with blood-thinning medications like warfarin (Coumadin).
If you prefer not to take a supplement, ginger can be eaten fresh, dried, pickled. Here are few tips for including ginger in your diet:
- Ginger is a staple in Asian cuisine; look for it in Thai takeout dishes like ginger chicken.
- Add powdered ginger to vegetable dishes for a spicy, aromatic flavor.
- Grate fresh ginger root into soup or stir-fries.
- Use fresh or powdered ginger to brew it as tea.
- Create a ginger syrup to use in cold drinks or cocktails.
- Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence. Int J Prev Med. 2013 Apr; 4(Suppl 1): S36–S42.
- Zingiber officinale: A Potential Plant against Rheumatoid Arthritis. Arthritis. 2014; 2014: 159089.
- Efficacy and safety of ginger in osteoarthritis patients: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2015 Jan;23(1):13-21. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2014.09.024. Epub 2014 Oct 7.