Ginger (Zingiber offcinale), is a member of the Zingiberaceae family and has been used as a spice and remedy in India and China since ancient times. The plant is indigenous to India and is cultivated in Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Australia.

Ginger is concentrated in the rhizome of the ginger plant and is a complex substance with over 400 different compounds. Most investigators suggest ginger’s health benefits are a result of 2 classes of active ingredients: terpenes and polyphenols.

Terpenes are compounds that possess a strong odor and often are major components of essential oils.  Polyphenols are potent antioxidants and are found in many healthy foods like berries and red onions. Research implies gingerols and shogaols are ginger’s crucial polyphenols.  The distinct odor and taste of ginger are due to the complex mixture of ginger’s terpenes and phenolic compounds.

Potential Benefits of Ginger for Musculoskeletal Health    

1. Ginger is an antioxidant* 6,7,8,9

Free radicals damage bone, cartilage, muscle, and tendons accelerating degenerative disease. The health promoting components of ginger disarm destructive oxygen free radicals, like peroxide, and potentially protect joints, bones, tendons, and muscle against chronic oxidative stress.  

Ginger also reduces lipid peroxidation, a devastating chain reaction that targets the fat in the cell walls and frequently leads to cell death.

Indian researchers examined the effects of ginger oil on mouse model of oxidative stress.The researchers found that ginger oil significantly increased the body’s natural enzymes (superoxide dismutase, glutathione and glutathione reductase enzymes) to combat oxidative stress and reduced markers of oxidation. (Jeena K et al. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activities of essential oil from ginger. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2013 Jan-Mar;57(1):51-62.)

2. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory* 10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18

Rampant inflammation releases tissue eating enzymes and toxins that destroy muscle, bone, tendon, and joint tissue. Ginger potentially reduces inflammation’s injurious effect:

  • Ginger constrains Nuclear Factor Kappa Beta, a key protein that regulates the production of inflammation promoting factors.
  • Ginger inhibits Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha,  the cardinal signaling molecule that directs the inflammation pathway.
  • Ginger diminishes the synthesis of local signaling molecules and enzymes that boost inflammation and carry out its destructive effects.

Iranian researchers examined the effects of ginger extract on delayed onset muscle soreness after intense exercise.The researchers found that ginger extract significantly reduced pain and IL-6 levels, both indices of inflammation.(Hoseinzadeh K et al. Acute effects of ginger extract on biochemical and functional symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness. Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2015 Sep 12;29:261.)


3. Ginger demonstrates anti-fat properties*19,20,21

Obesity is a major risk factor for chronic joint disease Animal studies have demonstrated ginger reduces weight gain of test subjects and restricts inflammation within fat cells that helped promote excessive weight gain in non-treatment group.

The exact mechanism of ginger’s anti-fat fat mechanism is not well understood, but investigators believe ginger inhibits the absorption of dietary fats by inhibiting its breakdown in the gastrointestinal tract.

Egyptian researchers examined the effects of ginger extract on a rat model of obesity.The researchers found that ginger extract significantly reduced body weight and increased HDL levels(good cholesterol).(Mahmoud RH et al. Comparative evaluation of the efficacy of ginger and orlistat on obesitymanagement, pancreatic lipase and liver peroxisomal catalase enzyme in male albino rats. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2013 Jan;17(1):75-83.)


Precautions 22,23,24

Ginger is generally recognized as safe when consumed in usual culinary and herbal doses.

As with any consideration of any form of supplementation consult your healthcare provide prior to use if you are pregnant, nursing, taking any medications or have any medical conditions. Discontinue use and consult your doctor is any adverse reactions occur.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.



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 Lucas J. Bader MD

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