Eat Drink Better

Published on March 2nd, 2011 | by Jeannie Moulton


Is Ginger Better than Drugs?

There’s a long list of anti-inflammatory foods that can help manage inflammation and pain in the body – and ginger may be one of the best.  In a new study, ginger was found to be superior to common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

NSAIDs (and their problems)

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil) and aspirin are commonly used to treat mild pain and fever, as well as inflammation such as that resulting from arthritis.

NSAIDs work by inhibiting enzymes that form prostaglandins – which are sort of ‘messenger’ molecules for inflammation. Thus, they reduce the symptoms of conditions with inflammation.

Since NSAIDs are available over the counter, their use is widespread. They are generally safe, but their widespread use has brought many adverse affects to attention, including:

  • gastrointestinal irriation
  • kidney impairment
  • sensitivity to sunlight.

It is also not recommended that pregnant women use NSAIDs.

Why ginger may be better than drugs

Aside from ginger being a whole food and not some chemically derived drug, ginger may have other advantages over NSAIDs in pain and inflammation management.

NSAIDs only treat the symptoms of inflammation by inhibiting the inflammation messangers – prostaglandins. Ginger, however, does two things: It blocks the prostaglandins AND also has antioxidants that help break down inflammation in the joints. Ginger isn’t just a symptomatic treatment; it can help treat the cause of the inflammation.

How you can give ginger a try

In the study, 5 grams of fresh ginger was consumed each day, split up into doses throughout the day. You can eat it directly, make tea or incorporate in into your dishes.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons by crystalflickr

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About the Author

I spent the last five years earning my PhD in Engineering. I enjoy all types of science and writing, so I am trying out a new career path in science publication and communication. Recently, I have moved to Oxford, England. As an environmentally-conscious person, Oxford is a great place to live...notably there is no car required. I love to talk about vegan cooking, plant-based diets and the benefits of such, so just ask if you are interested. I do ballet for fun and love kitties.

6 Responses to Is Ginger Better than Drugs?

  1. My doctor tells me to take Advil for my frequent headaches (they often develop into migraines). Is there any research which indicates that ginger could alleviate headaches/migraines? I would try just about anything to avoid the almost-daily agony.

    • Jeannie Moulton says:

      When I was doing my research for this article, I didn’t see anything about that. I’d say ginger is worth a shot.

      I am a firm believer that diet affects just about everything that happens in our body. Have you tried eliminating some potential problem foods, like caffeinated beverages and artificial sweeteners, to see if that helps?

    • anita says:

      Keep a record of what you eat and drink before your headaches. You may find that they are triggered by food and therefore can go easy on that food and the food group. An allergy test using a vega machine will help. The usual, which you most likely know, are cheese, chocolate, wine and citrus. The citrus family/group goes on for ever and is in so many foods, especially those that are processed. Good luck
      Ginger tea is fabulous, very warming, good for digestion, joints and feels very cleansing for the body, also good for travel sickness. I’ve been drinking it daily for years and don’t suffer from anything!!!

    • Jeni says:

      Gluten intolerance has been linked to migraines, too. Writing a food journal is definitely a good idea.

      Good luck to you!

  2. Travis says:

    ginger is tasty and i like it. drugs are also tasty and fun.
    drugs win.

  3. Angie B. says:

    I’m dating a redhead. Yes, I’d have to say gingers are much better than drugs?

    Oh, you mean the root. That too. :)

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