gingerI just came back from the health food store with ginger to help ease pain and inflammation in my back that’s still recuperating.

So, it’s kind of kismet that I just came across two new studies (this one in the journal Pain Medicine and this one in the journal Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics) that show ginger can help ease the pain of menstrual cramps, too.

These new studies aren’t groundbreaking. Far from it, in fact. However, they do help support the bevy of past research (such as this study, this study, this study, this study and others) that proves just how helpful this spicy little root can be at eliminating period pain.

The way ginger works its cramp-relieving magic is by reducing the body’s production of pain- and inflammation-triggering prostaglandins. Some research suggests it even works as well as over-the-counter painkillers–but, without the potentially dangerous side effects.

So, how much should you take? In some of the studies, women were given 250 mg. to 500 mg. of powdered ginger extract every six hours on the two days leading up menstruation and during the first three days of menstruation.

Personally, I prefer to start with the lowest possible dose when taking any new herb or supplement to see how my body reacts to it. You can find ginger supplements in health food stores and Amazon.com.

For milder pain, you can try sipping ginger tea, nibbling crystallized ginger candy or adding fresh grated ginger to soups, stews and other dishes.

Note: Don’t take ginger if you have a bleeding disorder since it can affect blood clotting or if you have diabetes since it can lower blood sugar. As with any new supplement or herb, you should always check for interactions it may have with medications or other supplements or herbs you currently take and if it can affect a condition you have by consulting with your health care provider or pharmacist. You can find out more about ginger at WebMD.

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[Photo: Chiot’s Run]