Ginger is described in Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) and Tibb (traditional Arabian) systems of medicine to be useful in inflammation and rheumatism and this traditional use is supported by modern studies demonstrating ginger's anti-inflammatory activity.
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre, parallel-group 6-week study of 261 patients found that a highly purified and standardised ginger extract (EV.EXT 77) moderately reduced the symptoms of OA of the knee (Altman & Marcussen 2001). Similarly, 250 mg of the ginger extract (Zintona EC) four times daily for 6 months was shown to be significantly more effective than placebo in reducing pain and disability in 29 OA patients in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study (Wigler et al 2003).
These studies are supported by an open retrospective study involving 56 patients (28 with RA, 18 with OA, 10 with muscular discomfort) that revealed that more than three-quarters experienced varying degrees of relief of pain and swelling from the long-term use of powdered ginger (Srivastava & Mustafa 1992). Further support comes from studies comparing ginger to NSAIDs.
In one double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial involving 120 patients, 30 mg of an ethanolic ginger extract equivalent to 1 g of ginger and prepared from fresh ginger purchased from a local market in India was found to be significantly more effective than placebo and was as effective as 1.2 g of ibuprofen in the symptomatic treatment of OA (Haghighi et al 2005). In another double-blind crossover study 170 mg of the ginger extract EV.ext-33 with a standardised content of hydroxy-methoxy-phenyl compounds given twice daily was found to be significantly more effective than placebo but not as effective as ibuprofen in reducing pain and disability in 75 patients with OA before the crossover period, whereas no © 2007 Elsevier Australia
statistical difference was seen between ginger and placebo in the analysis after the crossover period. The authors commented that the washout period may have been insufficient and that ginger might need to be administered for longer than 3 weeks, and possibly in a higher dosage, to be clinically effective (Bliddal et al 2000).
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