Ginger is an herb that is known for its distinctive spicy flavor and for its many reputed medicinal uses. It has been used in traditional medicine to treat upset stomachs and a variety of other conditions for thousands of years. There is some evidence that taking ginger for inflammation helps some patients suffering from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, although as of 2011 this evidence remained inconclusive. Phytonutrients called gingerols are believed to be the anti-inflammatory agents in ginger. Patients considering taking ginger for inflammation should discuss the possible benefits and risks with a doctor.
Some, but not all, studies have found that ginger supplements can reduce pain and inflammation. Most studies concentrated on inflammation of the knees due to osteoarthritis, and some found a measurable difference in swelling in patients taking ginger as opposed to those taking a placebo. Among studies that found significant anti-inflammatory properties, the effectiveness was comparable to that of over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen. Unlike ibuprofen, which works within a matter of hours, ginger must generally be taken for several weeks before any effects are noticed.
Ginger for inflammation can be either incorporated into the diet or taken as a supplement. As a supplement, it is usually taken in 250 mg or 500 mg doses, up to 1,000 mg a day. Powdered ginger root can also be added to teas or served with a variety of foods, especially Asian dishes. Either method of consuming ginger is believed to be equally effective.
Taking ginger for inflammation is considered a fairly low-risk treatment option. Ginger may have a mild anti-coagulate effect, meaning that it decreases the blood's ability to clot. Patients who are taking any other anti-coagulate drug, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or warfarin, should discuss with their doctor the risks of combining ginger with these medicines. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should also consult a doctor before taking ginger for inflammation, because there is some evidence that ginger may cause harm to the fetus. Although as of 2011, this evidence is considered inconclusive.