Head-to-Head Challenge

For migraine headache relief, ginger root proved equally as effective as a prescription drug.

For migraine headache relief, ginger root proved equally as effective as a prescription drug.

Migraines are estimated to affect more than 28 million Americans. These headaches are caused by excessive dilation of blood vessels in the head and are characterized by a throbbing or pounding sharp pain.

Several dietary and supplement strategies that have been shown to be effective alternative treatments for migraines, with success rates often superior to standard therapy. One of the most promising is ginger, which has traditionally been used to ease nausea, relax and soothe the intestinal tract, and help to eliminate intestinal gas. Several studies have shown that ginger is effective in addressing a range of gastrointestinal issues.

Ginger has also been shown to exert a number of anti-inflammatory effects, and has a long history of use as a natural treatment for pain and inflammation. Some clinical studies show positive results in people with arthritis, chronic low back pain, painful menstruation, and muscle pain.

The Latest Research

One recent study compared ginger powder with sumatriptan, the generic form of the migraine drug Imitrex. Ginger proved to be equally effective as the prescription medication, but it had a better safety profile than the drug. Minor side effects of Imitrex include nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, and muscle weakness. But it can also cause more serious side effects, including coronary artery spasms, heart attacks, stroke, and seizures.

Researchers compared ginger and sumatriptan in 100 men and women who had suffered migraines for an average of seven years. In a double-blind study, participants were given either ginger (a 250 mg caplet) or sumatriptan (50 mg). Patients were instructed to take a caplet as soon as a migraine started.

For each headache that occurred during that month, participants recorded the time the headache began, headache severity before taking the medication, and degree of pain relief at 30, 60, 90, and 120 minutes, as well as 24 hours later. Results showed that ginger was as effective as sumatriptan, achieving 90 percent relief within two hours of ingestion. While a very small percentage (4 percent) of the ginger group experienced minor digestive upset, 20 percent of patients taking sumatriptan reported dizziness, drowsiness, or heartburn.

For Fast Relief

The dosage of ginger used in this study was low. Higher dosages more than likely would have produced even better results. Most clinical studies have used a dosage of 1 gm powdered ginger daily.

Fresh ginger contains active enzymes and high levels of other active constituents. The equivalent dosage to supplements would be 10 grams (about one-third of an ounce) of fresh ginger, which is roughly a quarter-inch slice. Throw some in your juicer as a great addition to any juice blend, or juice or grate fresh ginger and add it to sparkling mineral water to make a delicious homemade ginger ale.

CALL OUT: Ginger was as effective as sumatriptan, achieving 90 percent relief within two hours of ingestion.

Product Picks


Eclectic Institute Freeze-Dried Ginger


Nature’s Way GingerRoot


Prince of Peace Instant Ginger Honey Crystals

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