Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Ginger wonder herb for menstrual pain: Scientists confirm

Many women have painful periods. Sometimes, the pain makes it difficult to perform normal chores for a few days during each menstrual cycle. Painful menstruation is the leading cause of lost hours from school and work among women in their teens and 20s.

Painful menstrual periods are manifests in crampy lower abdominal pain, sharp or aching pain that comes and goes, or possibly back pain. Sometimes the menstrual pain termed primary dysneorrtary occurs around the time that menstrual periods first begin in otherwise healthy young women.

Often the pain develops later in women who have had normal periods and is often related to problems in the womb or other pelvic organs, such as fibroids or infections. Although pain during a woman’s period is normal, excessive pain is not.

No doubt, pain for whatever reason is best prevented than ameliorated. This explains why even in many communities many herbs come handy in ameliorating pain, whether it is a pain due to a woman’s monthly menstrual period, stomach pain or even pains in other parts of the body.

Interestingly, one of such is ginger, a common cooking spice. Ginger has been cultivated and taken as medicine by numerous cultures for thousands of years to address symptoms such as upset stomach or nausea, to expel cold from the body and to stop a cough.

In addition, a new study has confirmed this herb’s usefulness in ameliorating menstrual pain. The study found that treatment of primary dysmenorrhoea in students with ginger for five days had a statistically significant effect on relieving intensity and duration of pain. The 2012 randomised trial was reported in the journal, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The study was conducted in Tehran, Iran from June 2008 to December 2008. It involved 105 unmarried female students aged 18 and over, having a menstrual cycle that lasts from 21 to 35 days with two to six days of flow and average blood loss of 20 to 60 ml. All either experience a moderate or severe menstrual pain.

Students with history of pregnancy or taking oral contraceptives, body mass index (BMI) less than 19 kg/m2 or greater than 25 kg/m2, some diseases and mild menstrual pain were excluded from the study.

The participants were divided into two groups but both the students and midwife providing care were blind to the treatment allocation. The ginger and placebo groups received 500 mg capsules of ginger powder and placebo respectively three times a day in two different treatment procedures. Both treatment protocols were given at monthly intervals as follows:

In the first procedure, ginger and placebo were given two days before the onset of the menstrual period and continued through the first three days of the menstrual period. In the second procedure ginger and placebo were given only for the first three days of the menstrual period.

The severity of pain was assessed before and after intervention by a visual analogue scale. The visual analog scale (VAS) is a tool widely used to measure pain. Students were asked to indicate a perception of pain intensity (most commonly) along a 10 cm horizontal line. Duration of pain was determined by asking each student to indicate the number of hours she had experienced pain during the first three days of the menstrual period.

Students in both groups were requested to write down and report any unwanted adverse effects including diarrhoea, upset stomach and heartburn. In addition, changes in menstrual cycles including duration of menses and interval of cycles were asked.

The results suggested that administration of 1500 mg ginger powder daily for three days is a safe and effective way to produce analgesia in students with primary dysmenorrhoea. Overall the ginger group reported 11 hours less pain duration than the placebo group. Similarly they reported 3 cm less in severity of pain than the placebo group.

T
hey wrote “The results of present study showed that taking ginger 2 days before the onset of the menstrual cycle was significantly better at decreasing the duration of pain. However, there was some indication that the magnitude of decrease in pain duration for second procedure was better than first procedure.”

While the findings of this research are in accordance with a previous observation that compared efficacy of ginger to some NSAID drugs, the researchers said that more studies are needed in order to make ginger capsules in a standardized fashion.

In addition, they suggested studies with larger number of patients concerning the efficacy and safety of different doses of ginger as well as its effects on the other menstrual symptoms.

Ginger isn’t just a spice! In addition to ginger’s already-known health-boosting properties such as reducing motion sickness and nausea, having a soothing effect on the digestive tract and being a common remedy for colds, ginger can also help to support memory and cognitive function in middle-aged women.

In Chinese medicine, ginger is used to treat a number of conditions, including congestion to cancer treatment and prevention. Individuals suffering from thyroid problems may find that the compounds in ginger, including zinc, magnesium and potassium, along with the root’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties have a positive effect on thyroid function.

Previously decoction of the leaves of Phyllanthus amarus, a common herb called “dobisowo”or “eyin olubi n sowo” in Yoruba-speaking part of Nigeria and “ngwu’ by the Igbo tribe and “buchi oro” by the Asaba people, both in Nigeria has been suggested to be helpful in ameliorating menstrual pain. It was published by the African Journal of Medicine and medical Sciences.

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