Healthy Aging

Is Ginger The Next Natural Pain Reliever?

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Is Ginger The Next Natural Pain Reliever? about Total Joint Relief

Whether it’s to create a tangy sauce, spicy dessert or warming drink, the popularity of ginger in our food and beverages is a good thing, not just on account of its culinary qualities but because of its medicinal qualities. The latest research shows ginger can improve digestion, decrease symptoms of nausea, and reduce pain and inflammation.

Ginger Reduces Inflammation

Ginger's anti-inflammatory properties have long been praised in the natural health world, but for conventional physicians to be won over, they’d want to see the science on how ginger biologically lowers inflammation. Thanks to a groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind new study, they can.

More than 70 million prescriptions for Non-Steroid Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are written each year in the United States. Together with over-the-counter use this adds up to more than 30 billion doses of NSAIDs taken annually.

Such huge numbers mean that overdoses, poisonings, complications, and adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are regular events, and “are responsible for 30 percent of hospital admissions for ADRs, mainly due to bleeding, heart attack, stroke, and renal damage.”

For these reasons many people are looking for a safer, natural remedy like ginger. But since its precise impact on disease is unknown, researchers from the University of Michigan evaluated ginger to see if they could establish a mechanism through which ginger works so doctors can knowledgably discuss with patients whether taking ginger supplements as part of their treatment plan could benefit them.

NETosis contributes to autoimmune disease

The research group previously reported that when injected into mice, a purified preparation of 6-gingerol - the most abundant bioactive phytochemical in ginger root - counteracts the hyperactivity of a type of white blood cell called the neutrophil in two inflammatory autoimmune diseases, antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) and lupus.

For their latest experiments they explored the extent to which oral intake of a whole-ginger extract would similarly impact neutrophils in both autoimmune mice and healthy humans.

They were especially interested in the extent to which ginger would impact neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation, also known as NETosis. NETs are microscopic spider web-like structures that propel inflammation and clotting. They contribute to many autoimmune diseases, including lupus, APS, rheumatoid arthritis, vasculitis, and even COVID-19.

When mice with features of either APS or lupus were given ginger extract orally, circulating NETs were reduced. This was accompanied by a decrease in thrombosis (blood clots) in APS and autoantibody formation in lupus.

Would the same neutrophil reaction happen in people?

Ginger suppresses NETosis in humans

In the first human experiment, researchers isolated neutrophils from the blood of healthy volunteers and then treated them with various stimuli for three hours in the presence of different concentrations of ginger. As a result, NETosis was suppressed. This was even the case even when tested against autoantibodies isolated from patients with lupus or APS.

In a second experiment, nine volunteers with an average age of 27 took a supplement containing 100 mg of ginger (20 mg of gingerols) once daily for seven consecutive days. This boosted a chemical inside the neutrophil called cAMP. These high levels of cAMP then inhibited NETosis in response to various disease-relevant stimuli.

Senior co-author Kristen Demoruelle, MD, PhD, explained, saying, “There are a lot of diseases where neutrophils are abnormally overactive. We found that ginger can help to restrain NETosis, and this is important because it is a natural supplement that may be helpful to treat inflammation and symptoms for people with several different autoimmune diseases.”

Pain Reliever Of The Future

The other senior co-author Jason Knight, MD, PhD, added: “Our research, for the first time, provides evidence for the biological mechanism that underlies ginger’s apparent anti-inflammatory properties in people.

“There are not a lot of natural supplements - or prescription medications for that matter - that are known to fight overactive neutrophils. We therefore think ginger may have a real ability to complement treatment programs that are already underway. The goal is to be more strategic and personalized in terms of helping to relieve people’s symptoms.”

Our Takeaway

The researchers hope the findings will encourage conversations between doctors and patients about potentially using ginger supplements as part of treatment plans for inflammatory conditions from arthritis to autoimmune illnesses. We think that's a great idea and we'll continue to follow the research and report back.


Best regards,
The Green Valley Team

Davis A, Robson J. The dangers of NSAIDs: look both ways. Br J Gen Pract. 2016 Apr;66(645):172-3. doi: 10.3399/bjgp16X684433. PMID: 27033477; PMCID: PMC4809680.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4809680/

JCI Insight. 2023;8(18):e172011.https://doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.172011. https://insight.jci.org/articles/view/172011

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Total Joint Relief

Joint Tendon & Cartilage Support Matrix

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