Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How to choose herbal supplements?

Herb usually refers to a plant that grown for culinary, savory and even spiritual value. Traditionally, herbs are used to treat wide spectrum of health problems in China, India, Greek, and Roman. Many herbs are well known for their health benefits.

For example, Black Cohosh may improve symptoms of menopause and perimenopause, Ginseng helps boost immune system and energy, Evening Primrose is very beneficial for symptoms of PMS. Today, there is increased interest and popularity of herbal remedies. Many realized that many synthetic drugs have unpleasant side effects, and can be hazardous. Some of these drugs may not even be effective. Generally, herbs are used to maintain good health and are safer to use compare to drugs.

You need to be careful when you select herbal supplements. In U.S., herbal supplements are regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug administration) as foods. The safety of the supplements and the accuracy of the labels are not guarantee. The manufacturers are fully responsible of the potency, efficacy and safety of the ingredients used. Many herbal supplements have been found to be contaminated with metals, unlabeled prescription drugs, microorganisms, or other substances. Also, some herbal supplements are not scientifically formulated.

To choose the best quality herbal supplements:

  1. Look for supplements with standardize herbal extracts. This means that the supplements contain the active ingredients that are responsible for the health benefits.
  2. Each ingredient in the supplements must be supported by COA (Certificate of Analysis), which guarantees the potency and safety.
  3. The label of the supplements should contain following information: descriptive name of the product (e.g. Ginseng), net quantity contents (e.g. 100 tablets), net contents of the product, complete list of ingredients and amounts, disclaimer (“this statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease”), name and address of the business of the manufacturer, expiration date. Note that the disclaimer mentioned above is required by law (DSHEA).
  4. Look for products that have been tested scientifically. Check if the ingredients of the supplements have been proven scientifically for their health benefits. You may obtain the information from the website of products, or you can email the manufacturers. Consult your doctor about the quality of the related research.
  5. Look for ingredients in products with the U.S.P. notation, which indicates the manufacturer followed standards established by the U.S. Pharmacopoeia.
  6. Make sure that the herbal supplements have good bioavailability. Much of the active ingredients of supplements are destroyed by the acid of the stomach. Choose the quality product that is not affected by this process so that all essential nutrients are absorbed by your body.
  7. Choose the herbal supplements with your health care provider who is profesionally trained in herbal medicine. Present the labels of the supplements to seek for their advises.
  8. Purchase from merchants has refund policy for unsatisfactory products.
  9. If you are targetting specific condition, it is best to buy herbal formulas that is theurapetic for that condition. Usually these herbal formulas contain few herbs that function synergistically. The primary herb targets specific ailment. Other supporting herbs enhance the primary herbs healing benefits and ensure overall effectiveness of the formula. Never mix and max your own’s herbs.

Reference: FDA, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Monday, August 6, 2007

Meditation & Spirituality: Ignore Nature - Ignore Yourself

Overcoming stress the natural ways. Here are some ideas.

Racing on freeways, we never lose our minds to the point that we forget to buy a daily cup of coffee, which tastes bitter to those who simply don't have an extra moment to spill sugar in the cup. The fanatical belief that "coffee will pick us up" doesn't actually come to our rescue, especially when we sit on the sharp edge of stress chronically provoked by life routine. There are other ways to put stress at bay - eat the right foods for your health and well-being and you will likely feel a lot less stressed.

I know people who would put 'life routine' as the least likable category in a list of dislikes. I am sure you've met them in your neighborhood. We all can identify with them by reflecting on their irritable disposition. We seem to know what we don't like, but there are times when we don't know what we like or what we should like.

During the change between summer and fall everyone comes to realize that summer is over, and it's time to unpack your autumn decorations, knowing that Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner. When fall knocks on your door, welcome its riches, and do it for your health.

Go to your local "farmer's market" and buy the seasonal fruits that will shake the stress off your body by giving you a naturally sweet and tasty shot of energy. Eat those for the whole season. Don't start eating strawberries, cherries, and raspberries yet. It's time to get the best juices out of grapes, apples, plums and melons! Such produce, picked from nature and brought directly to the market, provides the necessary nutrients for good health.

Wine-lovers tend to think that one of the secrets to good health lies at the bottom of an empty wine glass. Yes, the glass of red wine a day has been proven to benefit the health of our hearts. Following the studies revealing the benefits of red wine, researchers discovered an additional substance in grapes called resveratrol. Resverartol can block cancer during the three major stages of tumor development.

A cancer researcher from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Michael J. Wargovich, has discovered that grapes and other fruits have powerful natural compounds, that when ingested into the body work as a defense against cancer. In comparison, to match the daily intake of grapes, one would have to drink the equivalent of five gallons of wine a day. Obviously, it's much healthier to eat grapes!

Next time you are driving on the freeway, and you feel a serious case of "road rage" coming on, forget about going to Starbucks, eat some grapes instead!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Coenzyme Q10: Dietary Sources, Precautions

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), also known as ubiquinone, is essential for energy production. It is an antioxidant—a molecule that has been shown to counteract processes resulting in disease.


Coenzyme Q10 deficiency primarily affects the heart and leads to heart failure. This deficiency can result from impaired coenzyme Q10 production or an increased need for it resulting from cardiovascular disease. Also, coenzyme Q10 levels may drop as we age.

A growing body of research shows that using a coenzyme Q10 supplement alone or in combination with other drug therapy may be beneficial in the treatment of several health problems, particularly cardiac conditions and diseases, breast cancer, diabetes mellitus, immune deficiency, muscular dystrophy, and periodontal disease.

Coenzyme Q10 supplementation may be of special interest to patients with high blood pressure. The supplement has a tendency to lower high blood pressure after 4 to 12 weeks of use.

Some cholesterol-lowering medications may deplete levels of coenzyme Q10 in the body, so people with high cholesterol who take these medications should also consider taking coenzyme Q10 supplements.

This supplement can also be used as a pretreatment for cardiac bypass surgery. It has been shown to reduce oxidative damage and protect the heart during surgery.

Dietary Sources

Coenzyme Q10 is found in every plant and animal cell. Primary dietary sources include oily fish, organ meats such as liver, and whole grains. Most people get enough coenzyme Q10 in their diet. Supplementation can be helpful in individuals with certain health conditions and in the elderly, because levels of coenzyme Q10 can decline with advancing age.

Other Forms

Coenzyme Q10 is available as a supplement in several forms, including softgel capsules, spray, hardshell capsules, and tablets.

How to Take It


There are no known reports to date about use of Coenzyme Q10 supplements in children. Therefore, use in children is not recommended at this time.


The general recommended dose for supplementation is 25 mg twice daily. Experimental doses include the following:

  • 100 mg a day in patients with heart disease
  • 60 mg a day for 4 to 8 weeks to enhance athletic performance
  • 120 mg a day for 28 days after a heart attack
  • 400 mg per day for potential prevention and treatment of breast cancer, and possibly other forms of cancer

Coenzyme Q10 should be taken with a meal containing oil since it is fat soluble. The body does not absorb it as well in the absence of oil.


Coenzyme Q10 appears to be safe with no significant side effects. However, the safety of supplementation during pregnancy and breastfeeding is unknown.

Possible Interactions

Coenzyme Q10 may help to reduce the toxic effects on the heart of daunorubicin and doxorubicin, two chemotherapy medications that are commonly used to treat a variety of cancers. Consult your healthcare provider before using coenzyme Q10 supplements while you are taking these medications.

In a scientific study, supplementation with CoQ10 in patients taking medications for high blood pressure (such as diltiazem, metoprolol, enalapril, and nitrate) resulted in the need for lower doses of these medications. More research is needed to verify these results; therefore, you should consult your healthcare practitioner before adding CoQ10 supplements to your existing medication regimen.

There have been reports that coenzyme Q10 may decrease the effectiveness of blood-thinning medications such as warfarin. Therefore, you should not use CoQ10 supplements if you are currently taking warfarin without discussing this with your healthcare provider.

In one study, treatment with CoQ10 in patients using timolol drops, a beta-blocker medication used to treat glaucoma, reduced side effects on the heart without decreasing the effectiveness of the medication. Consult your healthcare provider about whether CoQ10 supplements may be appropriate for you if you are being treated with timolol.

Please refer to the consumer depletions monographs for additional information on other medications that may reduce the levels of coenzyme Q10 in the body, such as gemfibrozil, beta-blockers, and tricyclic antidepressant medications, to name a few.

Supporting Research

Aberg F, Appelkvist EL, Broijersen A, et al. Gemfibrozil-induced decrease in serum ubiquinone and alpha- and gamma-tocopherol levels in men with combined hyperlipidaemia. Eur J Clin Invest. 1998;28:235-242.

Chan A, Reichmann H, Kogel A, Beck A, Gold R. Metabolic changes in patients with mitochondrial myopathies and effects of coenzyme Q10 therapy. J Neurol. 1998;245:681-685.

Chopra RK, Goldman R, Sinatra ST, Bhagavan HN. Relative bioavailability of coenzyme Q10 formulations in human subjects. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 1998;68:109-113.

Haas EM. Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Berkley, Calif: Celestial Arts Publishing; 1992:65-79.

Iarussi D, Auricchio U, Agretto A, Murano A, Giuliano M, Casale F, et al. Protective effect of coenzyme Q on anthracylines cardiotoxicity: Control study in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and non-hodgkin lymphoma. Molec Aspects Med. 1994;15(Suppl):S207-S212.

Jolliet P, Simon N, Barre J, et al. Plasma coenzyme Q10 concentrations in breast cancer: prognosis and therapeutic consequences. Int J Clin Pharmacol Therapeu. 1998;36:506-509.

Kishi T, Kishi H, Wanabe T, Folkers K. Bioenergetics in clinical medicine. XI. Studies on CoQ and diabetes mellitus. J Med. 1976;7:307-321.

Landbo C, Almdal TP. Drug interaction between warfarin and coenzyme Q10. Ugeskrift for Laeger. 1998;160(22):3226-3227.

Lockwood K, Moesgaard S, Yamamoto T, Folkers K. Progress in therapy of breast cancer with vitamin Q10 and the regression of metastases. Biocehmical and Biophysical Research Communications. 1995;212(1):172-177.

Matthews RT, Yang L, Browne S, Baik M, Beal MF. Coenzyme Q10 administration increases brain mitochondrial concentrations and exerts neuroprotective effects. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. July 21, 1998; 95:8892-8897.

Murray MT. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. Rocklin, Calif: Prima Publishing; 1996:296-308.

Murray MT, Pizzorno JE. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. 2nd ed. Rocklin, Calif: Prima Publishing; 1996.

Niibori K, Yokoyama H, Crestanello JA, Whitman GJ. Acute administration of liposomal coenzyme Q10 increases myocardial tissue levels and improves tolerance to ischemia reperfusion injury. J Surg Res. 1998;79:141-145.

Shils ME, Olson JA, Shike M, Ross AC. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 9th ed. Baltimore, Md: Williams & Wilkins; 1999:90-92: 1377-1378.

Shinozawa S, Kawasaki H, Gomita Y. [Effect of biological membrane stabilizing drugs (coenzyme Q10, dextran sulfate and reduced glutathione) on adriamycin (doxorubicin)-induced toxicity and microsomal lipid peroxidation in mice]. Gan To Kagaku Ryoho. 1996;23(1):93-98.

Sinatra S. The Coenzyme Q10 Phenomenon. New Canaan, Conn: Keats Publishing, Inc.; 1998:127-129.

Singh RB, Niaz MA, Rastogi SS, Shukla PK, Thakur AS. Effect of hydrosoluble coenzyme Q10 on blood pressures and insulin resistance in hypertensive patients with coronary artery disease. J Hum Hypertens. 1999;13(3):203-208.

Singh RB, Wander GS, Rastogi A, et al. Randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of coenzyme Q10 in patients with acute myocardial infarction. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 1998;12:347-353.

Spigset O. Reduced effect of warfarin caused by ubidecarenone. The Lancet. 1994;344:1372-1373.

Takahashi N, Iwasaka T, Sugiura T, et al. Effect of coenzyme Q10 on hemodynamic response to ocular timolol. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 1989;14:462-468.

Werbach M. Foundations of Nutritional Medicine. Tarzana, Calif: Third Line Press, Inc.; 1997:209.

Werbach MR. Nutritional Influences on Illness. 2nd ed. Tarzana, Calif: Third Line Press; 1993:66, 119, 122, 179, 421.

Zhou Q, Chan E. Accuracy of repeated blood sampling in rats: A new technique applied in pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic studies of the interaction between warfarin and Co-enzyme Q10. J Pharmacol Toxicol Methods. 1998;40(4):191-199.

Soothing Insomnia with Herbs

Each year, approximately one out of every three adults experiences episodes of insomnia—difficulty falling or staying asleep. Insomnia may result from stress at work, school, or home, or from working nights or frequent traveling. Thirty to forty percent of women in menopause have difficulty sleeping; aging, in general, causes sleep patterns to change. Overuse or abuse of alcohol, caffeine, drugs, decongestants, bronchodilators, sedatives, or stimulants influences your ability to get sound sleep. About half of all cases of insomnia, however, can't be linked to any particular cause. If you are having difficulty sleeping and feel drowsy during the daytime, you should see a physician for a full diagnosis to rule out other possible physical or mental causes.

Establishing good sleep habits is the best way to avoid insomnia. A healthy diet and regular exercise are important, too. Massage and relaxation techniques may be helpful, as well as the following herbal remedies.

Herbs are generally available as dried extracts (pills, capsules, or tablets), teas, or tinctures. Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with 1 teaspoon herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Tinctures are preparations made from alcohol (or water and alcohol), containing an herb strength of 1 part herb to 5 parts solvent or 1 part herb to 10 parts solvent.

  • Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita): calms. One cup of chamomile tea before bed is often all that is needed to remedy mild insomnia. Note: While most people find chamomile soothing on their stomachs, it may cause gastric upset for some.
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis): promotes sleep and proper digestion. Take 1 cup tea or 30 to 60 drops of tincture one to three times a day. Take alone or with catnip (Nepeta cataria).
  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata): calms and promotes sleep. Take 60 to 120 drops tincture (derived from the above-ground, or aerial, parts) one-half hour before bedtime.
  • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis): promotes relaxation and relieves anxiety. Traditionally taken with passionflower and hops (Lupuli strobulus). Take equal parts of each herb in 1 cup of tea one to three times a day, or in tincture form, 30 to 60 drops one to three times a day. Note: Side effects of too high a dose of valerian include nausea and grogginess. Do not take hops if you are suffering from depression.
  • Kava kava (Piper methysticum): reduces stress and promotes sleep. Take 15 to 30 drops tincture one to three times a day. Do not use for more than 3 months without medical supervision.
  • St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum): promotes sleep and relieves anxiety. Dose is 15 to 60 drops three times a day. Side effects may include a skin rash, increased sensitivity to sunlight, and gastric upset. Do not take St. John's wort if you are taking antidepressants.
  • Jamaica dogwood (Piscidia piscipula): a particularly powerful remedy for sleeplessness caused by nervous tension and pain. Dose is 30 to 60 drops tincture just before bedtime. Jamaica dogwood works well in combination with kava kava, passionflower, St. John's wort, and valerian.
  • Essential oils: lavender (Lavandula officianalis), rosemary (Roemarinus officinalis), and chamomile. Add 3 to 5 drops to a bath.

Be sure to talk with your physician or pharmacist to best determine which herbal therapies are for you. Some herbs should not be taken if you have certain medical conditions or are taking particular prescription medications.


Integrative Medicine Access: Professional Reference to Conditions, Herbs & Supplements. Newton, Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.

The Naturopathic Way to Good Health

Naturopathy is not one single remedy or therapy. Rather, it is a complete therapeutic system. As such, it is an approach to health care that is based on a set of beliefs. Naturopathy is based on the idea that good health is dependent on clean air, clean water, clean food from good earth, and exercise. Naturopathy also holds that the body has the ability to heal itself, and that treatments and therapies should work to encourage this process. Natural cures, good bowel habits, and good hygiene are all important for health. Numerous complementary and alternative practices, such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, massage, and clinical nutrition also have a role in naturopathy.

The ideas behind naturopathy date back to ancient times. However, they were introduced in the United States only about 100 years ago. The story is that a German named Benedict Lust had been living in the United States when he contracted tuberculosis. He decided to go home to Germany to research a cure. There he studied the ideas of fellow German researcher Vincent Preissnitz and Austrian Dominican friar Father Kneipp. As a result, he found not only a way to personal recovery and health but also the basis for a complete system of health and healing. Lust returned to the United States and introduced "naturopathy" to this country. He founded the American School of Naturopathy in New York in 1902.

Today, naturopathic doctors are trained and licensed in the U.S. They take four years of graduate level courses in a naturopathic medical school recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Naturopaths receive training in the same areas of study in conventional medicine as medical doctors. In addition, they learn about holistic approaches, with a strong emphasis on disease prevention. Their studies include clinical nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine, natural childbirth, hydrotherapy, and manipulative therapy. They must pass a professional board exam to become a licensed Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (N.D.).

Naturopaths can treat a variety of health conditions. These include colitis, asthma, menopause, flu, obesity, chronic fatigue syndrome, earaches, and allergies. If a health problem requires the care of a medical specialist, most naturopaths will refer you to a more conventional medical doctor.

If you decide to visit a naturopathic doctor, here's what you should understand before you go. All naturopaths consider the mental, emotional, and social aspects of their patients as well as the physical. A naturopathic doctor will examine your strengths and weaknesses in all of these areas to see how these influence your health. He or she will also perform a physical exam and ask you to provide a thorough health history. If you are sick, you will need to give a complete description of your symptoms. You may need standard medical tests, elimination diets, or supplements to focus the diagnosis.

Relaxation, massage, yoga, herbal remedies, or homeopathy are some standard treatments that may be prescribed. You may also be advised to try vitamin and mineral supplements, hydrotherapy, traditional Chinese medicine, or stress management. Natural treatments such as fresh air, exercise, and massage are common prescriptions as well. Be wary of recommendations for excessive diet changes or fasting, and enemas. Although some naturopathic therapies have been shown to have health benefits, others lack scientific evidence (for example, detoxifying treatments like enemas).

Naturopathy is currently licensed in only 11 states: Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. In 1999, state legislation to license naturopaths was introduced in Colorado, Idaho, Massachusetts, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Tennessee and South Carolina are the only states that prohibit naturopathy.

Since not all states require licenses, make sure that you seek out a trained naturopath. Look for someone who is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. To find one in your area, call the AANP's referral line at 206-298-0125 or visit the Web site at And be sure to let your physician know that you are interested in pursuing naturopathic treatments.

Suggested Resources

Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Revised Second Edition) by Michael T. Murray and Joseph E. Pizzorno (Prima Publishing 1997)


Hydrotherapy: the use of water to promote healing. This includes things like drinking natural spring water, taking baths, and exercising in water.


American Association of Naturopathic Physicians Web site. "What is Naturopathic Medicine?" and "What Is a Naturopathic Physician?" Available at

American Medical Association Web site. American Medical News. "'New kind of doctor' seeks wider roles." Available at

An Integrative Medicine Primer. "Naturopathy." Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, pp. 11-12.

Shealy, CN. The Complete Family Guide to Alternative Medicine: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Natural Healing. New York, New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc.; 1996.

The Soothing Power of Kava: A Root for Anxiety Disorder Sufferers

If you are one of the more than 19 million adults in this country who suffer from an anxiety disorder, you may be familiar with the commonly prescribed benzodiazepine drugs. While these are effective and fast acting, you may also be familiar with their undesired side effects, primarily, their tendency to cause severe drowsiness and to lead to dependency. Fortunately, researchers are examining the herb kava, or kava kava as it is popularly known, as an alternative treatment.

The Polynesians of the South Pacific have used kava for more than 3,000 years. They discovered that a concoction made from the root of the kava plant could help calm a person without reducing mental sharpness. The results of several clinical studies have now backed up the Polynesians' practices. Kava has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety as effectively as some common benzodiazepine-type drugs, but without the side effects. In fact, any side effects of using kava seem slight, although they have not been thoroughly researched yet (so far experts have determined that chronic abuse of kava can lead to liver damage and yellowing of the skin).

So consider taking kava as an alternative treatment if you suffer from an anxiety disorder. If you are currently taking a prescription, talk to your doctor about kava as an alternative. A standardized capsule of kava containing 60 mg to 120 mg of kavalactones is the recommended dosage. It may take a month before you notice a change in your condition. If you do not see results after three months, seek further medical advice.

Note: Low doses of kava can help you stay aware and active but not tense; at higher dosages, however, you may become sleepy. Since kava is known to depress the nervous system, until it is better researched, do not take it with alcohol or other depressants.


Anxiety disorder: Acute feelings of fear, uneasiness, or distress for no apparent reason. Panic attacks or various phobias, such as a fear of heights, may characterize an anxiety disorder.

Benzodiazepine: Family of drugs commonly used to treat anxiety.

Kavalactones: The active ingredient in kava. The amount of kavalactones per kava capsule may vary from one manufacturer to another, so look at the label to make sure the percent of kavalactones in one dose is equal to 60 to 120 mg kavalactones. For example, a 100 mg capsule of kava containing 70% kavalactones has 70 mg of kavalactones.

Suggested Resources

Kava: Nature's Answer to Stress, Anxiety, and Insomnia by Hlya Cass and Terrence McNally (Prima Publishing, 1998)

Kava: The Miracle Antianxiety Herb by Ray Sahelian (St Martins Press, 1998)

All About Kava (Frequently Asked Questions) by Earl Mindell (Avery Publishing Group, 1999)


Blumental M, senior ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin, Tex: The American Botanical Council and Boston, Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications; 1998.

Integrative Medicine Access: Professional Reference to Conditions, Herbs & Supplements. Newton, Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.

Jussofie A, Schmiz A, Hiernke C. Kavapyrone enriched extract from Piper methysticum as modulator of the GABA binding side in different regions of the rate brain. Psychopharmacology. 1994; 116:469-474.

Volz HP, Kieser M. Kava-Kava extract WS 1490 versus placebo in anxiety disorders-a randomized placebo-controlled 25-week outpatient trial. Pharmacopsychiat. 1997, 30:1-5.

Woelk H, Kapoula O, Lehrl S, et al. Treatment of anxiety patients. Kava special extract WS 1490 in anxiety patients is comparable to the benzodiazepine oxazepam a double-blind study. Zeitschrift Allgemeined. 1993; 69:271-277.

Ginger: An Effective Remedy for Osteoarthritis?

At least 20 million Americans suffer from the joint disease known as osteoarthritis, a condition characterized by the breakdown of cartilage. Cartilage is the substance that cushions and protects the ends of bones. As it is worn away, the bones rub against each other, causing pain, tenderness, swelling, and limited movement. The most commonly affected joints are those in the hands, feet, knees, and hips. Conventional medications help to relieve symptoms; however, they may also have undesirable side effects. But there is good news on the complementary and alternative medicine front. The natural remedies glucosamine and chondroitin look promising and are being further researched. Many people have also turned to ginger to combat the pain of osteoarthritis. Science has already shown several health benefits to adding ginger to the diet, but does research support using ginger for osteoarthritis?

In a recent clinical trial, ginger (Zingiber officinale) extract was evaluated for the treatment of knee and hip osteoarthritis. Participants in the study received ginger, ibuprofen, or placebo for three 3-week periods. The ginger and ibuprofen treatment groups had less pain than the group taking placebo during the first period. However, no significant differences were observed between ginger and placebo when the results of all three periods were tallied. No serious side effects were associated with taking ginger. In another medical journal, two researchers reported on a study of people taking ginger to treat the pain of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Of 46 people, more than three-quarters experienced some relief from arthritic pain and swelling. None of the people in the study reported adverse side effects. In animal studies, ginger has been shown to reduce joint swelling and inflammation.

The bottom line: ginger appears to help reduce the pain and swelling of osteoarthritis, with few or no side effects. It may not be, however, as effective as other conventional medications. More clinical trials with a greater number of participants and longer testing periods are needed. If you choose to try ginger therapy, consider adding one of the following to your daily routine:

* ginger tea: 2 to 4 grams of fresh root, steeped covered 10 to 20 minutes, two to three cups
* ginger capsules: follow manufacturer's label recommendations
* 1.5 to 3.0 milliliters of a tincture made from ginger extracts
* add a drop of ginger oil to massage oil and rub it directly into your painful joint(s)

If you are pregnant, be sure to talk to your doctor before taking ginger supplements. Since supplements are not currently regulated by the FDA, choose a standardized product from a company you trust. As always, work with your doctor to determine which osteoarthritis treatments are right for you.


Tincture: A preparation made from alcohol (or water and alcohol), containing an herb strength of 1 part herb to 5 parts solvent or 1 part herb to 10 parts solvent.


Bliddal H, Rosetzsky A, Schlichting P, et al. A randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over study of ginger extracts and ibuprofen in osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2000;8(1):9-12.

Friedrich, MJ. Steps toward understanding, alleviating osteoarthritis will help aging population. JAMA Web site. Accessed at on January 17, 2000.

Integrative Medicine Access: Professional Reference to Conditions, Herbs & Supplements. Newton, Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.

Sharma JN, Srivastava KC, Gan EK. Suppressive effects of eugenol and ginger oil on arthritic rats. Pharmacology. 1994;49(5):314-318.

Srivastava KC, Mustafa T. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in rheumatism and musculoskeletal disorders. Med Hypotheses. 1992;39(4);342-348.