Ginger for Osteoarthritis

Ginger for Osteoarthritis

September 15, 2019 37 By Ewald Bahringer


“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 study 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 60s, on a scale of 1 to 100, down to like 40s, that bringing pain
down that extra little bit into the 30s 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? Since osteoarthritis is a chronic
disease, it’s especially important to weigh the risk versus
benefit of treatment, and the commonly used
anti-inflammatory drugs can carry serious cardiovascular
and gastrointestinal 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, 7 out of 16. 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 stomach acid, so by
blocking acid production with another drug
one can lower 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 can be as pain relieving as ibuprofen,
but without the risk of stomach ulcers. OK, but this sounded 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
thousands of years. The placebo effect has been shown to
be remarkably effective in osteoarthritis to provide pain relief, and 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 20 men stuck ginger slices
onto their scrotum. Men with inflamed testicles applied 6 to 10 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 during chemotherapy.” Well, 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 the placebo
group just 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.