I’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding the ginger and sumatriptan study, so we’re going to take the time to talk about a few more details.
Obviously one study is not enough to change treatment practices around the world. However, the researchers were motivated to study ginger because it had already shown great promise as a migraine treatment.
Previous Ginger Studies
First of all, ginger has been regularly used for many related conditions – vertigo, motion sickness, and pain conditions being the most well known. Also, previous studies have shown very little problem with side effects.
Ginger is currently being studied to alleviate dental pain and inflammation. And one study suggested that it works about as well as ibuprofen for menstrual pain.
Products containing ginger, such as Gelstat Migraine, have already helped many people fight migraine symptoms. Gelstat Migraine has been studied in clinical trials, and the results were promising.
An older 1990 report showed that patients taking ginger during and after their attack were able to reduce frequency and severity of migraine.
Ginger Dosage in the Trial
In this trial, patients were given 5 capsules of either 50mg of sumatriptan or 250mg of ginger (these ginger capsules are 350mg). Everyone was to take one capsule when a headache was coming on. They didn’t know which they had (this was a double-blinded randomized controlled clinical trial).
This is actually a very low dose of ginger. As you’ll see below, others have recommended a higher dose, even up to a gram or two a day as a preventative. Ginger supplements are commonly 500mg and higher per capsule.
More on the study results
The patients had been generally diagnosed with migraine many years before, and they typically had several attacks per month.
Ginger and sumatriptan results were similar, with sumatriptan generally performing slightly better for actual headache pain.
250mg of ginger was used in this study, as mentioned above. Previously 500mg had also been recommended, repeated every 4 hours up to 1.5 to 2g per day for 3-4 days. Another report found that a woman found relief using similar amounts of ginger powder (1.5-2g) as a daily supplement.
The bottom line
The researchers of this study concluded that ginger should be preferred to sumatriptan because of the lack of significant side effects. The only reported issue with ginger was indigestion (4% had some issues here – interesting considering that many people take ginger for digestion!). But some patients taking sumatriptan experienced dizziness, vertigo, heartburn, and/or sleepiness (20% with one or more issue). In the end, patients were slightly more satisfied with ginger as a migraine abortive.
Researchers are now calling for more study into what dosage is most effective.
This was also a short term study. Longer term studies will help demonstrate if ginger can continue to fight migraine over the long term in individual patients.
For more on the study read the original post here.