All ginger and turmeric are rhizomes or root stalks that are used worldwide, not only as food seasonings but as traditional herbal medicines as well. All spices are mainly used as herbal remedies to help alleviate various types of pain. There have been numerous scientific experiments to determine whether and how each rhizome actually works. Although results have been mixed, there is reason to believe that both ginger and turmeric contain active ingredients that can provide at least some relief for those suffering from a number of painful conditions, ranging from arthritis and gastric discomfort to migraine headaches and post-operative pain.
Ginger as a Go-To
Phytochemicals known as gingerols and shogoal are the active medicinal ingredients in ginger. Ginger has long been used as a herbal remedy to relieve motion sickness, morning sickness, general nausea, and stomach upset, and, more recently, post-surgical nausea and nausea caused by chemotherapy. Ginger was also used to treat and prevent H pylori, the bacteria responsible for stomach infections and ulcers, from growing.
Besides helping to relieve pain, ginger can also help prevent some of the side effects that are associated with conventional painkillers. Long-term or high-dose use of aspirin and NSAIDs was associated with damage to the stomach such as lesions, ulcers, and other gastrointestinal disorders. Research shows that the active compounds in ginger can help protect the stomach lining against damage caused by these medications, as well as alcohol and excessive stomach-produced hydrochloric acid under certain conditions.
Turmeric as a Pain Relief Tool
In Southeast Asian cuisine, turmeric is a widely used spice, particularly in Indian and Thai food. Curcumin, an active compound in turmeric, is used to promote healing for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory function. Studies have found, like ginger, that in some cases, turmeric can have pain-reducing power equal to that of prescription and over-the-counter medications. The anti-inflammatory action of turmeric appears to help improve rheumatoid arthritis, post-operative inflammation, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcers of the stomach in clinical studies.
One animal research investigating rheumatoid arthritis found that although the frequency and severity of flare-ups were decreased by both turmeric and ginger, turmeric had substantially more anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacity than ginger.