Ginger: An Unexpected Ally in Struggling Against Menstrual Cramps

Studies done on ginger and its pain-relief benefits indicate that it’s effective in getting rid of menstrual pain.

With its wonderfully zesty flavor, ginger is a popular ingredient used in everything from fragrant curries to chewy cookies, healthy smoothies and so much more.

The ginger plant is a relative of the spices turmeric and cardamom, both of which have long been used in traditional medicine.

Ginger, the chunky root of a flowering plant, figures prominently in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. For more than two millennia, the root has also been used to treat a host of ailments. Today, the spicy root of the ginger plant is still employed to alleviate everything – from nausea and vomiting to other gastrointestinal ailments.

According to doctors, severe throbbing or cramping pain interferes with the daily activities of up to 20 % of women.

As a traditional home remedy, ginger has been used to lessen menstrual cramps, also called dysmenorrhea. But is ginger a really effective treatment? And how does it actually work? We have done some investigation – read on to learn what we’ve found out.

Research results

When it comes to its healing powers, ginger is the sum of its parts. Whole ginger is made up of literally hundreds of smaller, active constituents. Many of these, such as ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, caffeic acid, capsaicin, curcurmin, gingerol, gingerdiol, gingerdione, limonene, quercetin, and shogal, are strong antioxidants.

Studies done on ginger and its pain-relief benefits indicate that it’s effective in getting rid of menstrual pain.

In 2015, scientists went through previously published findings to understand the effects of ginger in dysmenorrhea that isn’t caused by endometriosis. The study, published in Pain Medicine, revealed that ginger was more effective than a placebo in getting rid of period pain.

Another study conducted in 2016, didn’t just state that the root vegetable helped more than a placebo, but also that it did a better job of reducing pain than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Furthermore, a research report suggested that the severity of menstrual bleeding can be controlled by consuming ginger. In this clinical trial, posted in Phytotherapy Research 2015, 92 women facing heavy bleeding were fed ginger supplements at regular intervals for three menstrual cycles. The result? The women on ginger supplements experienced a more dramatic reduction in menstrual bleeding than those who were given a placebo.

Anti-inflammatory mechanism

So, how exactly does ginger work against period cramps?

During your period, prostaglandins in your body trigger the uterine muscles to contract to shed their lining. The more prostaglandins you have, the more severe the cramps tend to be. Painful periods are very common and can vary from simply being annoying to being debilitating, lasting anywhere from 8 hours to 3 full days.

Zingibain, the enzyme found in ginger, protects your body from inflammation by inhibiting your body’s prostaglandins production. Therefore, ginger, either taken as a dietary supplement or in tea, can help to cure menstrual cramps in a natural way.

Painkillers are a popular way to relieve these cramps, but there’s also a more natural way to deal with menstrual pain and its symptoms, such as nausea, upset stomach, headache and fatigue: ginger. Take it three times a day for the best result.

Ginger has been effective in relieving inflammation and pain, and it can help alleviate the pain associated with menstrual cramps. Ginger also is used for nausea and an upset stomach, symptoms that sometimes accompany menstruation. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking ginger two to three times a day while you are experiencing menstrual cramps.

How you can consume it

There are a few ways to use ginger to help zap your menstrual pain.

Brewing a soothing cup of ginger tea is one of the most popular ways to harness ginger’s benefits. All you need to do is cut a few slices of ginger root and steep it in boiling water for several minutes. Strain the ginger from the water, pour your freshly made tea into a cup, and let it get to work.

Ginger also tempers the severity of other period symptoms like nausea or bloating, making it a particularly effective natural remedy.

You can also pick up ginger tea from your local supermarket and keep it on hand, so that you are never caught off guard by period pain.

In addition to ginger tea, if you want to get a little extra boost of ginger during your period, you can add dried powdered ginger to your favorite meals.

The unique zesty, slightly spicy flavor adds a new dimension to many dishes, especially if you are partial to Asian cuisine.

You can even add a dusting of ginger powder to your home-delivered meals to add a personal touch to the delicious ready-made dishes.

When caution should be taken

For most people, ginger is a very safe natural ingredient. However, as almost everything in this world, it has a few side effects.

Since it’s acidic in nature, it can cause mouth burn, diarrhea, and heartburn. Therefore, avoid taking ginger or drinking ginger tea if you have peptic ulcers.

Also, if you usually take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve your menstrual cramps, ginger may not work as well.

Avoid ginger if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood-thinning drugs. Talk to your doctor before taking ginger if you have gallstones.

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