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Ginger Helps Relieve Inflammation Caused By Rheumatoid Arthritis

Iran University of Medical Sciences, October 30, 2021

The swelling of joints in the hands and feet, often a case of rheumatoid arthritis, can cause significant pain among sufferers. Studies reveal that ginger can be used to help alleviate rheumatoid arthritis’ persistent symptoms.

Medicinal herbs such as turmeric, cardamom and ginger have long been found to have therapeutic and healing effects on illnesses that target the bones in the feet and knees, including osteoarthritis.[i] In a new study, however, researchers observed the effects of ginger on rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes pain and swelling of joints in the wrists, hands and feet. There is an approximately 2% incidence rate of rheumatoid arthritis around the world, with at least 1.3 million Americans affected by this painful disorder.[ii]

To understand how ginger can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, researchers from Iran University of Medical Sciences ran a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial and administered ginger powder to rheumatoid arthritis patients for 12 weeks.[iii]

Study: Ginger Can Help Relieve Rheumatoid Arthritis

In the 12-week study, researchers from Iran assigned participants into two groups that would either receive 1,500 milligrams (mg) of ginger powder in capsules or a placebo. They measured disease activity score and the gene expression of immunity and inflammation factors such as NF-κB, PPAR-γ, FoxP3, T-bet, GATA-3 and RORγt before and after the intervention. They concluded:

“In RA as an autoimmune disease, the immune system is impaired and it seems that ginger can improve immune function in patients with this disease and other autoimmune diseases. The results showed that ginger decreased the expression of T-bet gene significantly.”

The results of the study showed that ginger reduced manifestations of the disease via increasing FoxP3 gene expression alongside decreasing RORγt and T-bet gene expression. The T-bet gene was shown to trigger the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis among patients.

Researchers conclude that ginger is effective in reducing the manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis and improving immune system function. They recommend conducting further studies on the effects of ginger consumption on autoimmunity, inflammation and clinical manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis.

Additional Evidence-Based Therapeutic Effects of Ginger

Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) is a medicinal herb that contains bioactive terpenes, which is only one among various components that make it a plant powerhouse.

In the early spice trade, ginger was exported from Southeast Asia and India and delivered to Europe. Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine consider ginger a “digestive fire” because the root is warm and stimulating.

Because of its therapeutic effects, ginger has been known to have “anti-emetic, antifever, anti-cough, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-hyperlipidemic, and anti-cancer properties.”[iv]

A 2016 study revealed that ginger is effective in treating knee osteoarthritis[v]when combined with echinacea extract. In fact, patients who received 25 mg of ginger and 5 mg of echinacea showed significant improvements in swelling, with a decrease in knee circumference. Ginger oil can also be used to provide short-term knee pain relief.[vi]

Likewise, ginger can treat the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.[vii] In a 2014 study, patients with premenstrual syndrome received two ginger capsules and took it daily from seven days prior to menstruation to three days after menstruation for three cycles.

After up to three months of treatment, researchers found ginger effective in treating the symptoms of menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Other research that studied the effects of ginger within the first three to four days of the menstrual cycle supported this claim.[viii]

Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis targets the joints in the hands and feet and often begins at ages 30 to 50. Perhaps one of the worst parts of rheumatoid arthritis is the stiffening of the joints in the morning, which can last for an hour or two. The pain can also last the entire day.

One difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis is that the latter does not lead to stiffening of joints. Some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include low fever, loss of energy, loss of appetite and the growth of firm lumps in the elbows and hands. Some of the known natural treatments for rheumatoid arthritis include exercise, yoga, acupuncture and vitamin D.