Ginger root has been used for centuries as a folk remedy for ailments ranging from colds to upset stomachs. To add to the root’s healing resumé, this month The Journal of Pain will unveil a study by researchers at the University of Georgia showing that daily ginger consumption also reduces muscle pain caused by exercise.

While ginger had been shown to exert anti-inflammatory effects in rodents, its effect on experimentally induced human muscle pain was largely unexplored, said Patrick O’Connor, a professor in the College of Education’s department of kinesiology and one of the study’s four authors, in a press release. Prior to the study, it was also believed that heating ginger, as occurs with cooking, might increase its pain-relieving effects.

O’Connor and colleagues directed two studies examining the effects of ginger supplementation on muscle pain. Participants in the studies—34 and 40 volunteers, respectively—consumed capsules containing 2 grams (g) of either raw or heat-treated ginger or a placebo for 11 consecutive days. On the 8th day they performed 18 extensions of elbow flexors with a heavy weight to induce moderate muscle injury to the arm. Arm function, inflammation, pain and a biochemical involved in pain were assessed prior to and for 3 days after exercise.

The studies showed that daily ginger supplementation reduced the exercise-induced pain by 25%. The effect was not enhanced by heat-treating the ginger.

“The economic and personal costs of pain are extremely high,” said O’Connor. “Muscle pain generally is one of the most common types of pain, and eccentric exercise-induced muscle pain specifically is a common type of injury related to sports and/or recreation (e.g., gardening). Anything that can truly relieve this type of pain will be greatly welcomed by the many people who are experiencing it.”

The study is available online at