Using Ginger Formigraine Relief

  • Priyanka ThakurBachelor in Medicine, Bachelor in Surgery (MBBS), DRPGMC, India
  • Regina LopesSenior Nursing Assistant, Health and Social Care, The Open University

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Introduction

For the billions worldwide who suffer from migraines, identifying natural alternatives to reliance on medications for pain relief is imperative. One traditional remedy that exhibits potential according to emerging research is ginger. Ginger has a long history of use as a medicinal plant in many cultures to alleviate various ailments.

Modern scientific studies are now uncovering specific mechanisms by which ginger’s bioactive compounds may help mitigate migraine intensity and frequency. Keep reading to understand the science behind ginger’s therapeutic potential against migraines based on preclinical and some early clinical research.

While human studies are still emerging and results can vary based on individual factors, ginger constitutes a promising natural supplement to possibly incorporate as part of an integrated treatment plan for reducing migraine burden.1

The short answer

Compounds within ginger like 6-gingerol and 6-shogaol exert anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and blood vessel stabilising effects based on preclinical studies. This can address multiple migraine triggers.1 While clinical evidence is still formative, early trials indicate ginger powder supplements twice a day may reduce migraine frequency, nausea and vomiting for some patients. However, more high-quality human research is required to issue conclusive dosage guidelines catered to migraine treatment.2

Digging deeper: mechanistic insights on ginger

Now that we have briefly covered the bottom line, let’s dive deeper into specifics on ginger’s bioactive constituents and their postulated influence in preventing migraine onset or reducing symptom severity. Controlled human studies are still emerging, but intriguing animal models and cell-based studies provide clues into molecular pathways through which ginger can mitigate migraine.

Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities

One major characteristic of migraines is rampant inflammation affecting cranial nerves and blood vessels, coupled with an imbalance between destructive free radicals and protective antioxidants, that sensitises pain receptors.

Multiple experiments indicate 6-gingerol, 6-shogaol along with other gingerols and diarylheptanoids derived from the ginger root suppress expression of key inflammatory mediators including NF-KappaB while boosting endogenous antioxidant defences through enzymatic stimulation. This can theoretically break cycles of sterile inflammation and oxidative stress exacerbating headaches.3

Promoting vascular stability

Ginger’s antispasmodic effects emerging from inhibition of voltage-gated calcium channels may ease constriction of cranial blood vessels that contribute to pulsating migraines. Ginger’s chemicals also enhance nitric oxide signalling which further encourages vascular dilation and blood flow. By stabilising erratic vascular tone changes, ginger can prevent headaches triggered by abnormal cranial circulation.

The compound 6-shogaol additionally protects endothelial cell health which constitutes the delicate inner lining of blood vessels. Keeping these cells intact preserves normal blood brain function which if disrupted can initiate blinding headaches. Through this multitude of circulatory enhancements, ginger tackles both neural and vascular components of migraine pathology.4

More than anecdotal: clinical insights

While cell studies provide correlative insights on potential mechanisms, actual patient studies are indispensable to truly confirm ginger’s efficacy. Though research is still in early phases, initial findings are promising:

  • In a trial of 100 migraine patients, taking ginger powder capsules containing a standardised 250mg gingerol yield twice daily substantially lessened migraine frequency, nausea and vomiting over the course of one month
  • Another similar study in adults reported lower pain intensity scores and shorter headache durations when combining ginger and feverfew extracts as an intervention protocol

Clearly, multi-pronged mechanisms make ginger a worthy natural adjuvant to explore for preventing migraine episodes or reducing their intensities when they do occur. Of course, more large-scale human trials are mandated to determine optimal therapeutic dosing and ginger’s effects across diverse patient demographic groups suffering migraines triggered by varied factors.5

The bigger picture: lifestyle factors matter too

While this article focuses specifically on ginger, adopting healthy lifestyle modifications as part of an overall migraine elimination program remains vital. From stress management through yoga and meditation to avoiding dietary triggers, poor sleep habits and inconsistent medication use that can activate migraines, a multifaceted but individualised treatment plan is key.

Track your headaches and associated causes in a journal. This will help pinpoint your triggers, allowing you to partner with your neurologist to curate a holistic protocol mixing medications, natural supplements like ginger and sustainable lifestyle tweaks. Through consistency and patience, your migraine burden can likely enter long-term remission.

FAQs

Is it safe to take ginger daily if I have chronic migraines?

In normal supplemental doses like 250-500 mg ginger extract capsules taken one to two times per day, ginger is likely safe for long-term daily usage. However, confirm with your doctor about potential interactions with medications you’re on or underlying health conditions that require care when using ginger regularly.

How much fresh ginger root should I take to help with migraines?

For migraine relief, aim for 1 gram or 1⁄2 teaspoon of fresh ginger root consumed two to three times daily. This should supply sufficient levels of active compounds. You can incorporate grated ginger root into teas, smoothies or even soups. However, the convenience of standardised ginger extract capsules ensures accurate potency.

Are there any side effects of ginger I should know about?

When consumed in food or as most supplements, ginger is typically well-tolerated with negligible adverse effects. In amounts exceeding 5 grams per day, it can sometimes cause gas, bloating or heartburn. People on blood thinners should exercise caution as ginger’s blood thinning effects may increase bleeding risk.

What's the best way to take ginger - capsule, tea, or raw root?

All forms provide benefits, but capsules ensure a standardised dose. Teas or raw ginger also work well. Choose based on convenience and personal preference. Combining methods can maximise advantages.

I'm taking prescription meds for migraines. Is it okay to still use ginger?

Speak to your doctor before using ginger alongside medications, especially blood thinners. Ginger may increase medication absorption in some cases. However, when used carefully, ginger can complement conventional treatment.

Does ginger work for migraine auras or just the headache phase?

Some evidence suggests ginger's anti-inflammatory effects may suppress processes involved in the aura phase. However, more research is still needed specifically on ginger's impact before and during the aura experience.

What's better - ginger powder, ginger extract, or ginger oil?

Ginger powders or extracts have been most extensively studied for migraines. They provide standardised active doses. Ginger oil may also help when applied on the temples but lacks clinical evidence presently.

I also get vertigo with my migraines. Could ginger help balance issues too?

Yes, ginger has shown benefits for nausea and vertigo in some studies. Ginger minimises dizziness by improving blood flow to the brain and inner ear. Consult your neurologist before using it for migraine-related vertigo though.

Summary

In summary, ginger’s wealth of anti-inflammatory bioactives coupled with vascular-enhancing properties provides a scientific basis for its potential to assist in preventing or calming migraine episodes. Though human trial data is still nascent, early findings confirm ginger could constitute a promising natural intervention for reducing migraine frequency, pain and nausea intensity for some patients.

Of course, more research is vital to cement conclusive dosing guidelines. When incorporated as part of a healthy lifestyle and any prescribed treatment plans, ginger can facilitate progress on your migraine relief journey.

References

  1. Andrade C. Ginger for Migraine. J Clin Psychiatry [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2024 Jan 26]; 82(6). Available from: https://www.psychiatrist.com/jcp/ginger-for-migraine.
  2. Mustafa T, Srivastava KC. Ginger (zingiber officinale) in migraine headaches. Journal of Ethnopharmacology [Internet]. 1990 [cited 2024 Jan 26]; 29(3):267–73. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/037887419090037T.
  3. Ballester P, Cerdá B, Arcusa R, Marhuenda J, Yamedjeu K, Zafrilla P. Effect of Ginger on Inflammatory Diseases. Molecules [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2024 Jan 26]; 27(21):7223. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/27/21/7223.
  4. Li C, Li J, Jiang F, Tzvetkov NT, Horbanczuk JO, Li Y, et al. Vasculoprotective effects of ginger ( Zingiber officinaleRoscoe) and underlying molecular mechanisms. Food Funct [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2024 Jan 26]; 12(5):1897–913. Available from: http://xlink.rsc.org/?DOI=D0FO02210A.
  5. Anh NH, Kim SJ, Long NP, Min JE, Yoon YC, Lee EG, et al. Ginger on Human Health: A Comprehensive Systematic Review of 109 Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2024 Jan 26]; 12(1):157. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/1/157.

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Dr. Shweta Chaudhary

Master of Public Health - MPH, University of Birmingham

I’m Dr. Shweta Chaudhary, I am a dentist and a public health professional. I am passionate about spreading awareness about health and wellness through various programmes and publications.

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