Low Back Pain and Sciatica and Ginger
Native to southern Asia, ginger is a 2- to 4-foot-long perennial that produces grass-like leaves up to a foot long and almost an inch wide. Although it’s called ginger root in the grocery store, the part of the herb used is actually the rhizome, the underground stem of the plant, with its bark-like outer covering scraped off.
Ginger has been used as food and medicine for millennia. Arabian traders carried ginger root from China and India to be used as a food spice in ancient Greece and Rome, and tax records from the second century AD show that ginger was a delightful source of revenue to the Roman treasury.
Though no formal research on the effects of ginger on low back pain/sciatica specifically seems to have been done, ginger is still sometimes recommended for the treatment of these conditions.
The herb turmeric, which is part of the ginger family, has been studied slightly more than ginger writ-large for it's effectiveness at treating myriad health conditions. It is thought that turmeric might help with the treatment of low back pain and sciatica through its anti-inflammatory properties.)
Ginger is on the FDA's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list as a food, and the treatment dosages of ginger are comparable to dietary usages. No significant side effects have been observed.
Like onions and garlic , extracts of ginger inhibit blood coagulation in test tube experiments. 1 2 European studies with actual oral ginger taken alone in normal quantities have not found any significant effect on blood coagulation, 3 4 but it is still theoretically possible that a very weak anticoagulant could amplify the effects of drugs that have a similar effect, such as warfarin (Coumadin), heparin , clopidogrel (Plavix), ticlopidine Ticlid, pentoxifylline Trental, and aspirin . One fairly solid case report appears to substantiate these theoretical concerns: Use of a ginger product markedly (and dangerously) increased the effect of an anticoagulant drug closely related to Coumadin. 5 However, a double-blind study failed to find any interaction between ginger and Coumadin, leaving the truth regarding this potential risk unclear. 6 The maximum safe doses of ginger for pregnant or nursing women, young children, or individuals with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- Strong blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin (Coumadin), heparin , clopidogrel (Plavix), ticlopidine (Ticlid), pentoxifylline (Trental), or even aspirin : Ginger might possibly increase the risk of bleeding problems.
- Srivastava KC. Isolation and effects of some ginger components of platelet aggregation and eicosanoid biosynthesis. Prostaglandins Leukot Med. 25(2-3):187-98.
- Srivastava KC. Effects of aqueous extracts of onion, garlic and ginger on platelet aggregation and metabolism of arachidonic acid in the blood vascular system: in vitro study. Prostaglandins Leukot Med. 1984;13:227-235.
- Janssen PL, Meyboom S, van Staveren WA, et al. Consumption of ginger ( Zingiber officinaleRoscoe ) does not affect ex vivo platelet thromboxane production in humans. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1996;50:772-774.
- Bordia A, Verma SK, Srivastava KC. Effect of ginger ( Zingiber officinale Rosc. ) and fenugreek ( Trigonella foenumgraecum L. ) on blood lipids, blood sugar and platelet aggregation in patients with coronary artery disease. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1997;56:379-384.
- Krüth P, Brosi E, Fux R, Mörike K, Gleiter CH. Ginger-associated overanticoagulation by phenprocoumon. Ann Pharmacother. 38(2):257-60.
- Manusirivithaya S, Sripramote M, Tangjitgamol S, Sheanakul C, Leelahakorn S, Thavaramara T, Tangcharoenpanich K. Antiemetic effect of ginger in gynecologic oncology patients receiving cisplatin. Int J Gynecol Cancer. 14(6):1063-9.