Ginger is a natural remedy known to help relax blood vessels in the head, reduce inflammation and activate natural opiates in the brain which helps in lessening the pain associated with headaches. Most people reach for their medicine cabinet with severe migraine headaches, but new research shows ginger is a powerful natural alternative to migraine medication. Knowing exactly how to use it is key.
Few studies to date have proposed ginger derivates for migraine relief. We know ginger tea has incredible benefits for human health including, anti-cancer, reducing inflammation, improving circulation, relieving menstrual discomfort, strengthening immunity, reducing asthma and stress. We can now add effectively treating migraine headaches to that list.
Ginger vs. Sumatriptan
Sumatriptan is a class of drugs called selective serotonin receptor agonists. Other members of this class include naratriptan (Amerge), zolmitriptan (Zomig), rizatriptan (Maxalt), frovatriptan (Frova), eletriptan (Relpax), and almotriptan (Axert). They cause the muscles surrounding the blood vessels in the brain to contract and narrow the blood vessels. The problem is, these medications can also cause coronary artery spasms, heart attacks, stroke, abnormal heart beats, and seizures, weakness, dizziness and several other side effects.
A team of neuroscientists compared ginger and sumatriptan in 100 men and women who had suffered migraines for an average of seven years. The participants were randomly assigned to take one capsule of either ginger (at a dose of 250 mg) or sumatriptan (50 mg) as soon as a migraine started. Participants didn’t know whether they were taking ginger or sumatriptan until the end of the study, which lasted for one month.
For each headache that occurred during that month, participants recorded the time the headache began, headache severity before taking the remedy and degree of pain relief from the remedy at 30, 60, 90 and 120 minutes as well as 24 hours after taking it.
The surprising results were that ginger was as effective at decreasing migraine headaches by almost half and achieving 90% relief after two hours had elapsed.
Now think about that for a minute. Regular old ginger was as powerful as the prescription pharmaceutical strength sumatriptan for migraine headache relief.
Why Choose Ginger Over Medication?
Twenty percent of patients taking sumatriptan reported dizziness, drowsiness, vertigo or heartburn. Meanwhile, only 4% of those taking ginger had some minimal indigestion.
The doses of ginger and sumatriptan used in the study were moderate. Although the most effective dosage of ginger for migraine has yet to be established, dosages of ginger at 250 mg four times per day have been safely used in research studies of morning sickness and arthritis.
Some research has show that drinking ginger tea three to four times a day to reduce inflammation in the body effectively manages almost any headache. However, it is important to take ginger tea at the very beginning of a headache. This will help the ginger to act quickly and lessen the symptoms.
Ginger is one of the best pain killers in the world having analgesic properties like the popular ibuprofen, only better. It contains a quartet, gingerols, paradols, shogaols, and zingerone which are active ingredients to reduce pain. Ginger reduces pain-causing prostaglandin levels in the body. A study by researchers found that when people who were suffering from muscular pain were given ginger, they all experienced improvement.
Ginger supplements are widely available in stores, usually in doses higher than 250 mg, and are considered "generally safe" by National Institute of Health standards, but higher doses may be required for more effective relief depending on body weight.
Because ginger is a natural blood thinner, people with bleeding disorders should be careful about taking ginger supplements or take them only under supervision.
Although earlier studies have shown that ginger can reduce or deactivate a migraine, this was the first study to pit ginger against a big-name migraine drug. The robustness of the results are encouraging so, if you have concerns about taking medication for migraine relief, it won't hurt to try ginger tea or supplements as safe and effective alternative remedy.
About the author
Karen Foster is a holistic nutritionist, avid blogger, with five kids and an active lifestyle that keeps her in pursuit of the healthiest path towards a life of balance.