Is Ginger Effective at Relieving Period Pain?

Do you experience cramping discomfort around your menstrual cycle that requires the use of prescription or over-the-counter medication for pain relief?  Primary dysmenorrhea is the term used to describe aching or cramping that occurs before or during your menstrual period that is not caused by any other condition such as endometriosis.  

First of all, is there anything wrong with taking NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for your menstrual pain?  NSAID use may actually be something to consider if you are trying to conceive, as one study reported that use of these medications for a short period of time (less than 2 weeks), impaired ovulation, and ultimately progesterone levels in some women (1).  We also know NSAIDs can be hard on the stomach.

Interested in an natural alternative?  A study published in 2012 compared daily ginger root capsules versus placebo for pain relief during periods, and the results showed that ginger had significant effects for relieving the intensity and duration of menstrual pain (2).  A 2016 systematic review article found similar promising results, where ginger performed equally to mefenamic acid, an NSAID, in regards to improving primary dysmenorrhea (3).  Ideally, as Naturopathic Doctors, we are always trying to get to the root cause of your painful periods (ie, hormonal imbalance, inflammation, etc), but in the meantime, ginger is among the top of my list for symptomatic pain relief!

Sources:

  1. Salman, S., Sherif, B., Al-Zohyri, A.  Effects of some non steroidal anti-Inflammatory drugs on ovulation in women with mild musculoskeletal pain.  British Medical Journals Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2015: 74:2. Journals, https://ard.bmj.com/content/74/Suppl_
  2. Rahnama P, Montazeri A, Huseini HF, Kianbakht S, Naseri M. Effect of Zingiber officinale R. rhizomes (ginger) on pain relief in primary dysmenorrhea: a placebo randomized trial. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012;12:92. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-92.
  3. Chen, C.X., Barrett, B., Kwekkeboom, K.L. Efficacy of oral ginger (Zingiber officinale) for dysmenorrhea:  A systematic review and meta-analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.  2016: 6295737. doi: 10.1155/2016/6295737. Epub 2016 May 5.