Ginger Treats Osteoarthritis with Topical Application

ginger topical anti-inflammatory osteoarthritis

By Case Adams, Naturopath

Research from Australia’s Edith Cowan University has confirmed an ancient treatment – that osteoarthritis pain and mobility is reduced with the application of ginger root topically.

The researchers recruited 20 adults between the ages of 35 and 90 years old — average age of 64 years old. All of the volunteers had been diagnosed with osteoarthritis. 85% of the patients had osteoarthritis of the knees and/or hips.

The researchers randomly divided the patients into two groups, and treated half of them with a ginger (Zingiber officinalis) compress, and half with a ginger transdermal patch — a patent-pending product from New Zealand.

The patients applied the patch or compress daily. They were monitored weekly with a Health Assessment Questionnaire throughout the 24 week study.

The patients in both groups experienced significant improvement in pain, fatigue, well-being and mobility after only seven days, and this improvement increased through the study. At the end of the 24-weeks, 82% were satisfied with their treatment. The patients were 70% satisfied with their treatment results even after the first week of treatment.

Before the study, 80% of the patients were dissatisfied with their (conventional) treatment for their osteoarthritis.

Even after the first week of treatment there was a significant improvement in pain (decreased by 48%), fatigue (decreased by 49%), well-being (increased by 40%), and mobility (increased by 31%).

These numbers increased through the duration the study.

The researchers concluded:

“This pilot study suggests ginger therapy using both the ginger compress and ginger patch has the potential to relieve symptoms and increase independence for people with osteoarthritis.”

This is not the first study to find that ginger has the ability to decrease inflammation and reduce pain in general, as well as among arthritis patients. Studies have found that ginger extract blocks cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and lipoxygenase-5 (LOX-5) enzymes.

And a new study from Iran’s Tabriz University of Medical Sciences tested 64 diabetics and found that oral consumption of ginger decreased pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-alpha, as well as hs-CRP levels — indicators of inflammation.

Other clinical research supports topical ginger application

The topical application of ginger is not new among ancient medicines. And other research is proving its efficacy.

Researchers from Thailand’s Thammasat University School of Medicine conducted a randomized, double-blind study with 50 osteoarthritis patients for six weeks. They gave half of the patients a conventional treatment gel of the NSAID diclofenac, and half the patients a gel containing 4% ginger root and extract of plai (Zingiber cassumunar) — a product called Plygersic gel.

Both groups were treated for six weeks, and their symptoms were measured using the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score. The researchers then conducted analysis of variance statistical modeling. They determined that the ginger and plai (Plygersic gel) relieved pain and improved mobility similarly to the treatment with the NSAID gel.

The researchers concluded:

“Plygersic gel relieves joint pain and improves problematic symptoms and improves the quality of life in osteoarthritis knees during a 6 week treatment regimen with no differences to the 1% Diclofenac gel group.”

Ginger taken internally also reduces inflammation and pain in osteoarthritis

The anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in osteoarthritis are also experienced when ginger is taken orally.

This is evidenced in another recent study from Russia’s Gastroenterology Scientific Research Institute in Moscow.

The researchers tested 43 patients with knee and hip osteoarthritis. They gave 21 of the patients a ginger extract at 340 milligrams a day for four weeks. The other 23 patients received 100 milligrams of the NSAID diclofenac per day — a conventional osteoarthritis treatment.

The patients were tested with biopsy and for inflammatory factors relating to prostaglandins among the stomach and esophagus. They were also tested for arthritic pain levels before and after the treatment period, using the visual analogue scale (or VAS) — which measures pain in combination with mobility.

The researchers found that both groups had a similar reduction in pain, but the group taking the ginger did not suffer from the various effects typical of NSAID medication — including increased levels of stomach mucosa prostaglandins PGE1, PGE2 and PGF2alpha. These prostaglandin increases directly relate to an increased risk of ulceration, as the stomach mucosal membrane loses its protective abilities with NSAID use.

In their conclusion the researchers wrote:

“The ginger combination is as effective as diclofenac but safer in treating OA, being without effect on the stomach mucosa. The increased mucosal PGs synthesis in the ginger group supports an increased mucosa-protective potential. VAS; visual analogue scale, 0-100 mm.”

Numerous other studies support ginger’s ability to reduce inflammation and pain. This is why ginger is one of the oldest remedies for pain in traditional medicine — crossing over many cultures and medicines.

Nature has formulated pain reduction in combination with synergistic buffering abilities. This is why ginger is also used in traditional medicine to treat ulcerous conditions.

Learn the real causes and more natural strategies for arthritis pain and inflammation.
Arthritis - The Botanical Solution


Therkleson T. Topical Ginger Treatment With a Compress or Patch for Osteoarthritis Symptoms. J Holist Nurs. 2013 Dec 4.

Niempoog S, Siriarchavatana P, Kajsongkram T. The efficacy of Plygersic gel for use in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. J Med Assoc Thai. 2012 Oct;95 Suppl 10:S113-9.

Mahluji S, Ostadrahimi A, Mobasseri M, Ebrahimzade Attari V, Payahoo L. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Zingiber Officinale in Type 2 Diabetic Patients. Adv Pharm Bull. 2013;3(2):273-276.

Drozdov VN, Kim VA, Tkachenko EV, Varvanina GG. Influence of a specific ginger combination on gastropathy conditions in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Jun;18(6):583-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0202.

1. J Holist Nurs. 2013 Dec 4. [Epub ahead of print]

Topical Ginger Treatment With a Compress or Patch for Osteoarthritis Symptoms.

Therkleson T.

RATO Health Ltd, New Zealand.

Aim: This article is a report of a study evaluating changes in health status
before and after topical ginger treatment for adults with moderate to severe
osteoarthritis. Method: In 2011, 20 adults with chronic osteoarthritis were
randomly assigned to one of two groups for 7 consecutive days of topical ginger
treatment by trained nurses: Group 1 received a manually prepared ginger compress
and Group 2 a standardized ginger patch. Participants had the option to continue
self-treatment using the ginger patch for a further 24 weeks. A brief arthritis
health questionnaire was completed weekly for 3 weeks and 4 weekly for 24 weeks.
Results: The mean scores for Group 1 and Group 2 show a notable decline following
1-week topical ginger treatment; scores in pain, fatigue, global effect, and
functional status reduced by 48%, 49%, 40%, and 31%, respectively, whereas health
satisfaction improved from 80% dissatisfied to 70% satisfied. Scores for all
participants in all five domains progressively reduced over the following 24
weeks of self-treatment. Conclusion: Topical ginger treatment has the potential
to relieve symptoms, improve the overall health, and increase independence of
people with chronic osteoarthritis.

PMID: 24305660 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

A transdermal patch 10 containing one active ingredient, namely zingiber officinale rhizome (commonly known as ‘ginger’), for the treatment of an inflammatory condition such as an is an arthritic condition. The transdermal patch includes: a) a sheet of an absorbent material, b) zingiber officinale rhizome, and c) a carrier agent. A mixture of the zingiber officinale rhizome and carrier agent is applied to and absorbed into the absorbent sheet material such that the transdermal patch 10 provides non-invasive treatment of the inflammatory condition, when the transdermal patch 10 is placed on the skin of the recipient H, preferably, but not limited to, adjacent the kidney region K.