Ginger has been known for its healing and curative powers for centuries. But now, scientists are ready to add ginger to their little black bag for sports medicine. That's because new studies have confirmed that ginger is effective in relieving post-exercise muscle pain.

Researchers at the University of Georgia conducted tests on 74 study participants. They were separated into groups that received two grams of either raw or heat-treated ginger supplements or a placebo for eleven days. On the eighth-day participants completed eighteen arm extensions while holding heavy weights.  They were assessed for pain, inflammation, arm function and presence of certain biochemicals after exercise and again three days later. 

The studies showed that daily ginger supplementation reduced the participants' exercise-induced pain by 25 percent. Previous studies had shown that ginger reduced inflammation in rodents and speculated that heating or cooking the ginger increased its anti-inflammatory affect. This newer study, however, indicates that heat-treating the ginger did not enhance the anti-inflammatory and pain reducing effect. Raw does just as good a job. 

Other studies demonstrate that ginger is effective in reducing knee pain with osteoarthritis. It's been used as an anti-nausea remedy for thousands of years and scientists are looking into the possibility that it may even have anti-cancer properties and improve heart health. 

Would ginger work for you? There's no reason not to try it. Ginger extract, tincture and oil can be purchased at specialty stores, but it's available as a tea or supplement in the health food section of your grocery store. But, why not grab some fresh from the produce aisle? This brown knuckle-looking root is popular in food from many cultures and is as easy to add to your cooking as garlic. Just peel an inch of the root, slice or chop and toss it in a stir-fry, into pasta or sauté with chicken or fish. Use dried or crystallized ginger in baking. 

Can you take too much? Some people experience heartburn and gas if they eat too much fresh ginger but most people tolerate ginger well. Gingersnaps, ginger ale, gingerbread, anyone?