— by Jeff Jurmain, MA
For centuries, gingerroot has been used as a folk remedy for a long list of ailments, including the common cold and stomachaches. These days, it is known best as an agent to combat motion sickness, or vertigo.
But now, researchers at the University of Georgia have found that daily ginger consumption could also reduce muscle pain caused by exercise.
Ginger’s anti-inflammatory effects have been seen in preliminary studies, but any pain-relieving effects on human muscle were largely unexplored. Researchers also believed that heating ginger, as occurs with cooking, might increase its pain-relieving effects.
As such, two studies examined the effects of 11 days of raw and heat-treated ginger supplements on muscle pain. Participants in the studies consumed capsules containing two grams of either raw or heat-treated ginger or a placebo for 11 days. On the eighth day, the participants did some weight exercises designed to induce a “moderate muscle injury” to the arm. (Doesn’t sound like the most enjoyable study to volunteer for!)
Researchers assessed arm function, inflammation, pain and a biochemical involved in pain before the study, and again three days after exercise. The studies showed that daily ginger supplementation reduced the exercise-induced pain by 25%, and the effect was not enhanced by heat-treating the ginger.
Muscle pain generally is one of the most common types of pain. Exercise-induced muscle pain is easily one of the most common injuries, and can stem not only from the gym, but also from recreational activities, such as gardening. Anything that can truly relieve this type of pain will be a great help to those who suffer it.
Ginger is a very common supplement. If you experience muscle pain after activities on a fairly regular basis, it might be worth your while to have ginger supplements in the house. A standard dose is one to four grams a day, divided into two to four doses. Ginger is recognized as safe, with no significant side effects being recorded. Ginger can, though, potentially increase risk of bleeding problems in those taking blood thinners such as warfarin or even aspirin.