Ginger has a proven anti-inflammatory and pain relieving action, useful, for example, in case of arthritis and muscle pain. From today we know that ginger can also become a precious ally in case of migraines, both with and without aura. This emerges from a very recent review published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine (Chen et al, The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 2021).
Ginger and migraine, what we know
Although the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of ginger have long been known and this spice is used to treat various problems ranging from pain in the joints to nausea, until now little was known about the properties of ginger against migraine attacks. In fact, although the studies existed, they had never been compared and analyzed even if it was certainly legitimate to expect a beneficial action of ginger against headaches. In fact, during a migraine attack the trigeminal nerve is activated releasing pro-inflammatory substances connected to the sensation of pain. Well, the active ingredients of ginger, such as gingerol and shogaol, have indeed shown a useful action to counter these substances.
Therefore, to fill this knowledge gap, the researchers published the review we are talking about today.
Ginger counteracts migraines, the studies
What has emerged is that all the studies carried out so far have actually been able to demonstrate the effectiveness of ginger in the case of migraines. In particular, each ginger-based treatment led to improvements within two hours of taking ginger, with a reduction in pain and an increase in cases where the headache has even completely passed. In addition, ginger reduced other symptoms commonly associated with migraine attacks, such as nausea and vomiting. The 2018 research (Rodrigues et al, Cephalalgia, 2018) cited by the review is very interesting. In this case, the scientists observed the effects of 400 mg of ginger extracts taken by patients with a migraine attack in full swing. The volunteers were also given drugs commonly used to treat migraines. Well, in those who had taken, together with the drugs, ginger the improvements were significantly higher, both in terms of the level of perceived pain and duration of the attack, with a full recovery much faster than that experienced by those who had taken only the medications. Also noteworthy is the study that observed that 250 mg of powdered ginger, less than half a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger, have a similar efficacy, two hours after ingestion, to that of sumatriptan, the active ingredient of several medicines used for migraines.
This review paves the way for new ginger-based treatments for migraine. In the meantime, while science takes its course, it is certainly possible to help yourself against headaches by resorting to home remedies. For example, preparing an herbal tea when a headache occurs. Bring a cup of water to a boil, remove from heat and add 1 inch of peeled ginger, let it sit for 15 minutes, then drink.