Ginger may reduce the pain associated with muscle injury after exercising, offering amateur and professional athletes a natural pain reliever, suggests new data.
Both raw and heat-treated ginger reduced the pain associated with muscle injury by about 24 per cent, compared with placebo, according to findings published in The Journal of Pain.
“The primary novel finding was that supplementation with both raw and heat-treated ginger attenuated muscle pain intensity 24 hours after eccentric exercise,” wrote the researchers, led by Chris Black, PhD, from Georgia College and State University.
“Consumption of raw ginger resulted in a 25 per cent reduction while heat-treated ginger resulted in a 23 per cent reduction in muscle-pain intensity 24 hours post-exercise,” they added.
The rhizome of the ginger plant (Zingiber officinale) is a rich source of antioxidants, including gingerols, shogaols, zingerones and other ketone derivatives. According to Black and his co-workers from the University of Georgie, ginger’s pain reducing effects are biologically plausible with both in vitro and in vivo animal studies showing an effect of gingerols, shogaols, and zingerones on inflammatory compounds.
“[This suggests] ginger may have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties akin to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,” stated the researchers.
In order to test this hypothesis, the researchers recruited 74 volunteers and randomly assigned them to consume two grams of raw or heat-treated ginger supplements for 11 days in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized design.
The subjects then performed 18 extensions of the elbow flexors with a heavy weight to induce moderate muscle injury to the arm. Arm function, inflammation, and pain were assessed prior to and for three days after exercise.