How to Use Ginger for Pain Relief

Ginger for pain relief

Using ginger for pain relief is a time-honored tradition.

In the west, ginger is best known for treating nausea and motion sickness. As an anti-inflammatory similar to turmeric, it has also been the subject of clinical trials for osteoarthritis, dysmenorrhea, migraine, and other conditions.

Ginger and turmeric are related spices in the Zingiberaceae family.

Both have been used for centuries in traditional medicine.

A 2014 article in Phytotherapy Research1 says, “Ginger products have long been used in the management of motion sickness, dyspepsia, articular pain, local pains and vertigo.” It adds, “Anecdotally, oral ginger has been used for migraine headache, nausea and vomiting.”




In clinical trials for osteoarthritis, ginger is less impressive for pain relief than turmeric, but ginger has an exceptionally impressive lack of side effects.

An analysis of ginger trials, published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage in 20152, concluded that “ginger has a superior effect on OA [osteoarthritis] pain and disability to placebo, and apparently without serious adverse events.”

Rheumatoid arthritis

In rheumatoid arthritis, the effect on the immune system may make ginger more than a painkiller.

“Ginger and its constituents alleviate both bone destruction and inflammation,” commented a 2014 review article in the journal Arthritis3. “Various phytochemical constituents of ginger have potential therapeutic roles in amelioration of RA [rheumatoid arthritis] symptoms and even possibly RA itself.”

The article described the mechanisms that ginger uses to improve the immune system and suggested that these are the mechanisms that might halt or reverse the progress of the disease.

Menstrual cramps

If ginger addresses nausea, then perhaps it isn’t surprising that it helps menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea).

A  2015 ​article in the journal Pain Medicine4 reviewed four random controlled trials of ginger for menstrual cramps. The authors concluded that there was a “significant effect of ginger” and that the clinical trials “provide suggestive evidence for the effectiveness of 750-2000 mg. ginger powder during the first 3-4 days of menstrual cycle for primary dysmenorrhea.”


The 2014 study in Phytotherapy Research5 found that ginger stopped migraine attacks as effectively as sumatriptan, but with fewer side effects. Side effects for sumatriptan affected 20% and included “dizziness, a sedative effect, vertigo, and heartburn.” Side effects for ginger affected 4% and was limited to dyspepsia.


Action Steps

Ginger, its relative turmeric, and the extract of turmeric called curcumin, are widely available both as spices for cooking and as nutritional supplements.

Sources agree that all three have a better “safety profile” than NSAIDs.


Allergic reactions are always possible.

Interactions with medication are possible. Consult with your doctor and pharmacist about interactions with blood thinners, NSAIDs, and other medications.

“It is well-documented that ginger is an anticoagulant,” or blood thinner, according to the 2015 Osteoarthritis and Cartilage article6.


Ginger is classified by the FDA as a GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) food additive.

The 2015 meta-analysis in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage7 mentions ginger’s lack of serious side effects. Adverse events are described as “stomach upset” and “bad taste.”

See the Cautions above.

Recommendations on labels often suggest up to 4000 mg. per day.



Dosages in clinical trials


  • 500-1000 mg. per day was a typical dosage in the clinical trials.
  • A few trials used 2000 mg per day. (Probably 500 mg four times per day)


  • 1500 mg. per day for three or four days (probably 500 mg. three times per day) was a typical dosage in the clinical trials.


The 2014 article in Phytotherapy Research8 reports:

  • Mustafa and Srivastava, in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 19909, recommended taking 500 mg. ginger at onset, and repeat every four hours up to 1500 to 2000 mg. per day, for three to four days.
  • In a case study, published by Mustafa, et al. in the Journal of Drug Development, 1993, 1500-2000 mg. per day was taken to prevent migraines.




Examples of reliable supplement brands:

Organic India

Turmeric Formula contains:​

  • Organic turmeric rhizome 370 mg.​
  • Turmeric extract 80 mg.
  • Organic ginger rhizome 50 mg.

(“Take one twice a day”)


Ginger Root (organically grown)

Ginger Root

Ginger Root Extract

Nature’s Way

Ginger Root

New Chapter

Ginger Force

1 capsule daily recommended; 1 capsule = 1479 mg. ginger

This a high dose encapsulated liquid from a company with a good reputation.




A delicious way to take turmeric and ginger is to cook with them.


A widely available brand of organic spices (available in many groceries):

Simply Organic


Available at the grocery; grate and use in food.

Ginger root is commonly available in grocery produce sections.


Ginger is frequently in herbal tea blends.

The only purely ginger tea that I know of:

Traditional Medicinals

Organic Ginger




Medical Journal Articles

Every link leads to free full text, except as noted. In some cases, to get to the full text, you’ll need to find and click an additional PDF or full text link .

PMID is the ID number in the free PubMed medical literature index. PMCID is the ID number in the free PubMed Central full-text archive.

Arthritis and Myalgia

Zingiber officinale: A Potential Plant Against Rheumatoid Arthritis
Ab-dullah Al-Nahain, Rownak Jahan, and Mohammed Rahmatullah
Arthritis 2014; 2014: 159089
PMID: 24982806
PMCID: PMC4058601

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in Rheumatism and Musculoskeletal Disorders
K.C. Srivastava and T. Mustafa
Medical Hypotheses 1992 Dec;39(4):342-8
PMID: 1494322
(Abstract only is free)

Efficacy and Safety of Ginger in Osteoarthritis Patients: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trials
E.M. Bartels, V.N. Folmer, H. Bliddal, R.D. Altman, C. Juhl, S. Tarp, W. Zhang, R. Christensen
Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 23 (2015) 13-21
PMID: 25300574

Menstrual Cramps

Effect of Zingiber officinale R. rhizomes (ginger) on Pain Relief in Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Placebo Randomized Trial
Parvin Rahnama, Ali Montazen, Hassan Fallah Huseini, Saeed Kianbakht, and Mohsen Nasen
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:92
PMID: 22781186
PMCID: PMC3518208

The Effect of Ginger for Relieving of Primary Dysmenorrhoea
Enslyeh Jenabi
Journal of Pakistan Medical Association 2013 Jan; 63(1)8-10
PMID: 23865123

Efficacy of Ginger for Alleviating the Symptoms of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials
J.W. Daily, X. Zhang, S. Kim da, S. Park
Pain Medicine 2015 Dec; 16(2):2243-55
PMID: 26177393
(Abstract only is free)


Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in Migraine Headache
T. Mustafa and K.D. Srivastava
Journal of Ethnopharmacology 1990 Jul; 29(3):267-73
PMID: 2214812
(Abstract only is free)

Gelstat Migraine (Sublingually Administered Feverfew and Ginger Compound) for Acute Treatment of Migraine when Administered during the Mild Pain Phase
Roger K. Cady, Curtis P. Schreiber, Mary E. Beach, Carolyn C. Hart
Medical Science Monitor 2005; 11(9):P165-69
PMID: 16127373

Comparison Between the Efficacy of Ginger and Sumatriptan in the Ablative Treatment of the Common Migraine
Mehdi Maghbooli, Farhad Golipour, Alireza Moghimi Esfandabadi, and Mehran Yousefi
Phytotherapy Research 28:412-415 (2014)
PMID: 23657930