Easing Arthritis With Ginger

Ginger is thought to ease inflammation.
DK/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Ginger is an herb sometimes used in treatment of arthritis. Proponents suggest that consuming ginger as a food, drinking ginger tea, and/or taking ginger supplements can help soothe arthritis symptoms and lessen arthritis-related pain.

Why Do People Sometimes Use Ginger for Arthritis Relief?

Because there is no cure for arthritis—and because standard care for arthritis often involves the use of medications known to trigger side effects in some patients—many people turn to natural remedies like ginger to relieve arthritis pain.

Ginger contains compounds found to reduce inflammation, a biological process that plays a key role in the pain associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It's also said that ginger may benefit arthritis patients by stimulating circulation. 

Related: 4 Natural Remedies for Chronic Pain

Research on Ginger and Arthritis

While large-scale clinical trials testing ginger's effectiveness as an arthritis treatment are currently lacking, a number of studies show that ginger may be of some benefit to arthritis patients.

For a report published in the International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare in 2008, scientists analyzed three previously published clinical trials testing ginger's effects in adults with osteoarthritis. Although the report's authors concluded that more research is needed to determine ginger's safety and effectiveness as an arthritis treatment, they found some evidence that ginger may reduce pain severity and improve physical functioning in arthritis patients.

The most recent research on ginger and osteoarthritis includes a small study published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology in 2013. For the study, 60 people with osteoarthritis of the knee were split into three groups: the first group received diclofenac (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug commonly used in treatment of arthritis), the second group received ginger extract, and the third group received a combination of diclofenac and ginger extract.

After 12 weeks of treatment, all three groups showed significant improvement in several markers of osteoarthritis, such as pain and stiffness. Those receiving the combination of diclofenac and ginger showed the greatest improvement.

Related: Osteoarthritis Pain Relief Remedies

To date, research on the use of ginger in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is very limited. However, an animal study published in the Journal of Natural Products in 2009 indicates that ginger extract may help suppress the joint inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis. 

Related: 4 Natural Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis


Ginger may cause a number of side effects when taken in large doses. These side effects include diarrhea, heartburn, and stomach upset.

In addition, use of dietary supplements containing ginger may be harmful to certain individuals, such as people with gallstones and people taking blood-thinning medications (including aspirin).

Furthermore, use of ginger should be avoided prior to undergoing surgery.

Alternatives to Ginger 

Studies show that several other natural remedies may also aid in the treatment of arthritis. For example, avocado/soybean unsaponifiables, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate have all been found to benefit osteoarthritis patients in clinical trials.

There's also some evidence that undergoing alternative therapies like acupuncture or practicing mind-body techniques like yoga and tai chi may help control arthritis pain.

What's more, lifestyle changes such as achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, following an anti-inflammatory diet, and exercising regularly should help control arthritis symptoms.

Using Ginger for Arthritis Relief?

While scientific support for ginger's effectiveness as an arthritis treatment is fairly limited, it's possible that increasing your intake of this anti-inflammatory herb may enhance your overall health. Along with taking dietary supplements, you can boost your ginger intake by adding the herb to meals (such as salads and stir-fries), as well as by drinking ginger tea

It should be noted that, when left untreated, arthritis may lead to serious health problems. For example, rheumatoid arthritis may result in severe and permanent damage to bones and tissues. If you're considering the use of ginger (or any other type of natural remedy) for the relief of arthritis, make sure to talk to your doctor before beginning treatment.


Altman RD1, Marcussen KC. "Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis." Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Nov;44(11):2531-8.

Funk JL1, Frye JB, Oyarzo JN, Timmermann BN. "Comparative effects of two gingerol-containing Zingiber officinale extracts on experimental rheumatoid arthritis." J Nat Prod. 2009 Mar 27;72(3):403-7.

Leach MJ1, Kumar S. "The clinical effectiveness of Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in adults with osteoarthritis." Int J Evid Based Healthc. 2008 Sep;6(3):311-20.

Paramdeep G. "Efficacy and tolerability of ginger (Zingiber officinale) in patients of osteoarthritis of knee." Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2013 Apr-Jun;57(2):177-83.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

Continue Reading