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Ginger classification

Ginger extracts are available over the counter in pharmacies in the form of capsules and oil. In theory, ginger can reduce the activity of several chemical substances that promote joint inflammation. Results from RCTs assessing its role in treating participants with osteoarthritis found that it has a high safety profile and can have moderately beneficial effects in reducing pain and disability.

What is it?

Family: Herbal medicine of the ginger (Zingiberaceae) family
Scientific name: Zingiber officinale
Other names: Gan Jiang, zingiber, EV.EXT35, African ginger, black ginger, chayenne ginger, Zinaxin®

Ginger is a plant native to China, South East Asia, West Africa and the Caribbean. The herbal preparation is taken from part of the plant’s stem (the rhizome). You can buy it from high-street retailers.

How does it work?

Some laboratory and animals studies have found ginger extracts can reduce the production of several chemical substances (including leukotrienes) that promote joint inflammation. Ginger also contains salicylates, which your body transforms into a chemical substance called salicylic acid. Salicylic acid prevents your nerves making certain prostaglandins and this eases pain and discomfort.

Is it safe?

Ginger is a relatively well-tolerated herbal remedy with minor side-effects. The most commonly reported side-effects are stomach upset and mouth irritation. You should take ginger with care if you use anticoagulants because ginger might increase the risk of bleeding.

No recommended safe and effective doses have been found for use in musculoskeletal conditions. Doses ranging from 510–1,000 mg a day have been used in RCTs.

Ginger trials for osteoarthritis

A summary of trial evidence for this complementary medicine.

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