Almost 90% of women around the world at some point have severely painful menstrual periods, known as dysmenorrhea. This can lead to lost productivity estimated at $2 billion annually.
Menstrual pain is partially explained by the increased production of hormones known as prostaglandins, which produce uterine contractions and result in cramping pain. Common painkillers like ibuprofen act by reducing prostaglandin production. However, they have significant side effects and also cause G.I. distress and, in some cases, bleeding.
In contrast, ginger has also been shown to reduce prostaglandin formation and alleviate pain – but is completely safe and free of side effects. While turmeric is widely recognized for its anti-inflammatory effects, ginger is also a spice that can dramatically reduce pain and inflammation.
Technically the underground stem of the plant, ginger has been used extensively in Ayurveda for its digestive benefits, anti-inflammatory properties and energizing effects. It is an outstanding source of antioxidants and has key phytochemicals including gingerols, paradols and shogaols. Research is now confirming its healing benefits:
In one randomized, double-blind study, 1000 mg of ginger powder was as effective as 2 different prescription drugs at relieving pain in women with painful menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea.
In fact, a review of 4 studies concluded that 1000-2000 mg of ginger powder given during the first 3-4 days of the menstrual cycle greatly reduces pain and cramping.
Other benefits of this spice include treating nausea from any cause, fighting infections, boosting the immune system, improving blood sugar and cholesterol, and potentially preventing cancer.
With multiple proven health benefits and an excellent safety profile, ginger is an indispensable natural tool to help relieve pain and inflammation in dysmenorrhea and other conditions.