The Benefits of Ginger for Osteoarthritis

If ginger is so effective against migraines and also helps with the pain of menstrual cramps, what about osteoarthritis? I explore this in my video Ginger for Osteoarthritis.

An all too common disorder, osteoarthritis produces chronic pain and disability. The first major study, published in 2000, showed no benefit of ginger extract over placebo, but that study only lasted three weeks. The next study, in 2001, lasted six weeks and, by the end, was able to show significantly better results compared to placebo. However, because the placebo did so well, reducing pain from the 60s down to the 40s on a scale of 1 to 100, ginger reducing pain further down into the 30s was not especially clinically significant, so an editorial in the official journal of the American College of Rheumatology concluded that “ginger should not be recommended at present for treatment of arthritis because of the limited efficacy.”

Since that time, there have been a few other trials that showed more impressive results, such that ginger is now considered “able to reduce pain and disability” in osteoarthritis. How does it compare to other treatments? Since osteoarthritis is a chronic disease, it’s especially important to weigh the risks versus the benefits of treatment. The commonly used anti-inflammatory drugs can carry serious cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks. For example, nearly half of the osteoarthritis patients on drugs like ibuprofen were found to have major injuries to the lining of their small intestines. That risk can be reduced by taking additional medication to counteract the side effects of the first drug.

Ibuprofen-type drugs reduce our stomach lining’s ability to protect itself from stomach acid, so blocking acid production with a second drug can lower the risk. However, ginger can actually improve stomach lining protection. Indeed, at the kinds of doses used to treat osteoarthritis—about a quarter- to a half-teaspoon a day—ginger can be considered not just neutral on the stomach, but beneficial. So, ginger can be as pain-relieving as ibuprofen but without the risk of stomach ulcers.

What about topical ginger treatment, as in externally applying a ginger-soaked cloth or patch to the affected joint? In a controlled study, compress versus patch, both showed remarkable and lasting pain relief for osteoarthritis sufferers. What was missing from the study, though, was a control group: There was no placebo patch. I don’t care if ginger has been applied externally to painful joints for a thousand years. The placebo effect has been shown to be remarkably effective in osteoarthritis in providing pain relief. So, until there’s a controlled study on topical ginger, I’m not going to believe it.

There wasn’t such a study until… 24 men stuck ginger slices on their scrotum.

Men with inflamed testicles applied six to ten paper-thin slices of ginger “over the affected testes,” and, evidently, the ginger group healed nearly three times faster than the control group. Unfortunately, the original source is in Chinese, so I can’t get further details, as is the only other controlled study on topical ginger I could find, whose title apparently translates to “Evaluation of point plaster therapy with ginger powder in preventing nausea and vomiting occurred after platinum-based interventional chemotherapy.” We know ginger powder taken orally can be a miracle against chemo-induced vomiting, but what about stuffing it in your belly button?

The external application of ginger powder to the so-called point of Shenque, which is the navel, was compared to the control group, who got potato powder in their belly buttons instead. The ginger group evidently had significantly less nausea and vomiting. Unfortunately, only the abstract is in English, so I can’t tell how effectively the researchers blinded the patients to the treatment. Presumably, it would be easy to tell whether or not you were in the ginger or placebo group simply by the smell, but perhaps the researchers controlled for that? Until we know more, I would suggest those who want to try ginger use it in the stomach, rather than on the stomach.

What other dietary interventions can help with arthritis? See, for example:

What else can ginger do? Check out:

If the placebo effect is really that powerful, should doctors prescribe them? They already do. See my video The Lie That Heals: Should Doctors Give Placebos? for more on this.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live presentations:

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One of the best ways to remember something is to tell someone…

One of the best ways to remember something is to tell someone about it.

When you immediately relay what you’ve learned to somebody else, you’re more likely to remember the details longer than if you just keep re-reading them. This is because your brain assumes that any information you’ve told to another person must be pretty important, and when it’s categorizing memories, the ones flagged ‘most important’ are kept in a more readily-accessible place.

(Source, Source 2)

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Spiced-Roasted Cauliflower: The Perfect Vegan Dinner Centerpiece

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The holiday season can be tricky for the vegans. Most traditional recipes are meat-based and vegetables are generally relegated to side-dishes. But vegetables can be just as delicious and regal as the centerpiece of any dinner table. Roasted cauliflower is one of the most interesting vegetables to experiment with. It is a blank canvas that takes all flavors beautifully. It also offers amazing flexibility in terms of presentation and preparation, from cauliflower rice to curries. But the most striking of all is the whole roasted cauliflower. This version of the vegetable is as delicious as it is impressive.

How to Make a Roasted Cauliflower?

The roasted cauliflower is extremely easy to make and does not need many ingredients. The whole head of one cauliflower is used to make the dish. If you are catering for a large party, go ahead and use more than one cauliflower.

Tricks to make the perfect roasted cauliflower:

  • The trick lies in the spice paste you make to lather the cauliflower. While we have given you one spice paste, go ahead and experiment with other combinations.
  • As in any other recipe, the ingredient is the most important part. So, pick your cauliflower carefully. Look for a cauliflower that does not carry any visible marks or spots. The head should be closely packed and creamy.
  • Part of the roasted cauliflower’s appeal is its presentation. It’s a whole head of cauliflower that sits on a large plate or tray. To make sure that it sits properly, you have to cut off the base. Just cut the stalk at the bottom so that the base is one even layer.
  • One of the problems associated with roasting a whole head of the cauliflower is the difficulty of ensuring that the entire vegetable gets a good rub of the spice mix. You may have a beautifully roasted cauliflower, but if you do not spread the spices evenly over the whole vegetable, you will be stuck with uneven flavor distribution. The flavor will all be only at the top and the bottom of the florets will just be steamed. To make sure that you get a good flavor distribution, turn over the cauliflower head and apply the spice mix liberally at the bottom. Try to spoon some of the mixes between the separate florets, so that the flavor goes in.
  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil or any flavorless vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt as per taste
  • Turn the oven to 400 degree F. Place a roasting pan with the water at the bottom of the oven. The water will help the cauliflower steam and ensure even cooking.
  • First, make the spice paste. Just add the curry powder, harissa paste, and the oil in a bowl. Take a taste test to see if the salt is sufficient. Add salt only if you think you will need it.
  • Prepare the cauliflower by cutting base. Make sure that the head sits flat on a plate.
  • Now apply the paste all over the cauliflower. Start with the bottom. Flip over the cauliflower and apply 2/3 of the spice mix. Spoon the mix through the gaps between the florets at the bottom. This will ensure that most of the cauliflower is infused with the spices. Turn over and apply the paste at the top.
  • Place the cauliflower head in a skillet that has a light of the oil. Place this on a rack above the water pan. Let the cauliflower roast for 35-40 minutes. A large cauliflower will naturally take more time than a smaller one. The duration will also depend on how soft you want your vegetable to be. You may need to roast for longer if you want it very soft.
  • Turn the oven to high broil at the last 2-3 minutes for browning the top. Remove the water pan before that.
  • When serving, just transfer this cauliflower to a beautiful serving plate. Some of the spice and vegetable juices may come out at the bottom of the skillet. Add this to the serving plate as well. You can also scatter some parsley or coriander leaves on top. For a large vegetable platter, serve it surrounded with other grilled vegetables.

Roasted cauliflower goes well with almost any menu. you can serve this with spiced couscous and chimichurri.

Connect With Us If you have tried this recipe, we would love your feedback in the comments section below. And while we can’t taste it, we would love to see how it turned out! You can connect with us on Facebook or Instagram and tag your picture with #organicfactsrecipes. Do you wish to share your winning recipes with us? Please click here and fill in the details to get started.

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Traditional Homemade Mulled Wine Recipe

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Mulled wine is as much a part of the collective standard winter ‘Christmasy’ culture as cozy fireplaces, warm snuggly colorful sweaters, freshly baked gingerbread cookies, and gift-giving is. This beverage, which was first created by the Romans way back in the second century, has over a period of time become quite a global phenomenon. Today, countries all over the world have come up with their own distinctive blend and name. It is known as Glühwein in Germany, Vino Caliente in Spain, Glögg in Sweden, Bisschopswijn in the Netherlands, Vin Brulé in Italy, Vin Chaud in France, Candola in Chile, Vinho Quente in Brazil and so on.

Needless to say, everyone in the world enjoys a glass of hot wine in the winters. But, what is mulled wine and how do we make it at home? Let us find out.

What is Mulled wine?

Alternatively known as spiced wine mulled wine is a beverage, typically prepared with red wine, oranges for a citrusy flavor, and different kinds of spices. During winter, drinking warm drinks such as mulled wine helps to keep the body warm. The combination of alcohol and warm spices such as clove and cinnamon adds to the warmth of the drink. There are alcohol-free mulled wines available as well. In order to make alcohol-free mulled wines, simply use fruit juice instead of wine. You can also make it by boiling the mixture of alcohol and spices until the alcohol has evaporated completely. These drinks are known as wassail or mulled cider.

How to make Mulled wine?

Mulled wines are usually prepared by mixing the wine with fruits, spices and any other ingredients you wish to add to your drink. The ingredients used to make mulled wine are region-specific. Once they are added, the drink is left to simmer on medium heat to allow the flavors to properly brew. Thereafter, the mulled wine is either served immediately or stored in an airtight bottle in the refrigerator. This will further all the flavors to seep in.

Here are a few steps that you need to take into consideration while preparing homemade mulled wine.

  • Red/White Wine: Although mulled wine is typically made by using red wine, you can use dry white wine to make this drink. In fact, you don’t need to spend a lot on your wine. Any basic brand will do.
  • Spices: The most common type of spices used in this wine are cloves, nutmeg, star anise, cinnamon, and vanilla. People can either add the spices as a whole or use the grounded version.
  • Fruits: Some people like to add a citrus flavor to their drink. Fresh oranges are usually the most preferred fruit. Some also like to add other fruits like apples, ginger, figs or even raisins, to enhance the taste of the drink. You can either spice and mull it with the wine or use it as a garnish.
  • Sweetener: Sugar, honey and maple syrups are the most common types of sweeteners used.
  • Additional liquor: This step is optional but you should you wish to enhance the flavor of your drink, you can add an extra dose of liquor to it. The most common types of liquor used are bourbon, brandy, cognac or dark rum.

Let us take a look at the detailed recipe below.

  • 750 ml of dry red wine
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 6-8 whole cloves
  • 2-4 tbsp honey/maple syrup/sugar (as per your preference)
  • 1 sliced orange
  • To make mulled wine at home, add orange slices, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, a liquor of your choice, 2 teaspoons of your preferred sweetener and wine in a saucepan and stir it properly until it mixes well.
  • Once you are done stirring, start cooking the wine on medium to high heat until it sort of reaches a simmer. Ensure the mixture doesn't bubble as you do not want the alcohol to evaporate. Once it almost reaches the point of simmer, lower the heat and let it cook this way for anywhere between 15 minutes to 3 hours. This is entirely dependent on how strong you want the flavor to be.
  • Thereafter, use a strainer to remove and discard the orange slices and the spices from the drink. At this point, taste the drink a little and feel free to add more of the sweetener if you need to.
  • Add some spices and orange slices as garnish. Voila! your warm 'Christmasy' drink is ready! Serve it warm or else store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Other Ways to Make Mulled Wine

You can also make this drink, using:

  • Teabags: You can replace the spices with 1 or 2 tea bags and allow it to steep for some time. It would be preferable to use a caffeine-free version.
  • Fruit juice: You can also add your favorite fruit juice to this wine. Cranberry and apple juices are the most common additives.
  • White wine: As mentioned above, we can try this recipe with dry white wine as well. It gives it a natural fruity, light and fresh flavor.

Connect With Us

If you have tried this recipe, we would love your feedback in the comments section below. And while we can’t taste it, we would love to see how it turned out! You can connect with us on Facebook or Instagram and tag your picture with #organicfactsrecipes.

Do you wish to share your winning recipes with us? Please click here and fill in the details to get started.

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Arrowroot Flour: Why & How To Use It

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Arrowroot flour is a versatile and humble ingredient known by many names. You might know it as arrowroot starch or powder but rest assured that all those names offer the same functions and benefits. The flour is especially useful to those looking for a gluten-free, paleo-friendly, and a moderately keto-friendly option to thickeners such as corn starch. If that is enough reason to experiment with a new starch for you, go right ahead and check out how to use it. If you need to know the what, why, and how of arrowroot flour, let us fill you in.

What is Arrowroot Flour?

The arrowroot plant, a perennial herb scientifically known as Maranta arundinacea, is native to the West Indies, and South and Central America. Since it can grow well in warm, rainforest habitats, it is now also naturalized in the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, regions of China, and Indonesia. It is also grown in the state of Florida.

Arrowroot flour, ideally, is the powder of the root or the rhizome of the arrowroot plant. It is starchy in nature, making it an apt thickening agent, or a substitute for ingredients such as corn starch.

It was traditionally used as a poultice for arrow wounds, which is where the name ‘arrowroot’ comes from. Another one of its uses was also to treat diarrhea. Since then, it has found a place in cooking, especially in the cooking traditions of the regions where it originates. With its versatility and benefits, it is quickly gaining popularity in various cuisines.

While the ideal arrowroot flour is sourced from the arrowroot plant alone, commercially available arrowroot powder could really be a combination of flours from various sources, especially tropical tubers such as cassava. Occasionally, arrowroot flour could also be combined with other starches such as potato starch. The best way to know what you are using is to read the ingredient list, or buy local, to make sure you are getting the right thing.

According to the FDA, if arrowroot is used to indicate starches obtained from other sources, it should be qualified by some term indicating the sources.

Why Should You Use Arrowroot Flour?

The versatility of arrowroot flour is understated. It can serve as an original ingredient as well as a substitute for cooking a variety of dishes. Furthermore, its traditional use for healing says a lot about how it is good for your health.

Arrowroot flour is rich in starch, which means it is mainly composed of carbohydrates. It is also rich in fiber and calcium. It is also gluten-free. It can be used to alleviate diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain.

The starch is also useful for people who are looking for paleo-friendly and keto-friendly option.

How to Use Arrowroot Flour?

While using it as a corn starch substitute is one of the most popular uses of arrowroot flour, here are some other ways in which you can use it.

  • As a thickener: As with corn starch and other starches, make sure to use it as a slurry rather than adding the powder directly to hot liquid. It can be used to thicken soups, stews, gravies, and whatever else you can imagine. However, it is best not to cook with it and add it at the end, as heating it too much might make the starch lose its ability to thicken.
  • For baking: It is a great alternative to bake with and can be used in place of baking powder. Mix it with a little baking soda, and you are ready to go.
  • As an egg substitute: While baking or cooking, if you are looking for a vegan egg substitute, mix arrowroot flour with equal amounts of vegetable oil and 1/4th One spoon of powder can substitute one egg in the recipe.
  • As a dry shampoo: Since its starchy nature comes close enough to corn starch, it works well as a dry shampoo. Take a spoonful of arrowroot flour and lightly massage it into the roots. Mix with a little cocoa powder for brown or black hair.
  • As an absorbent powder: If you run out of talcum powder or corn starch, arrowroot powder can be used instead. It can also be used as a talcum powder or as an ingredient in DIY or homemade makeup items
  • For frying: You can try deep-frying potatoes or other vegetables by dry coating them in this flour. This gives them a nice crunch. For an added zing, add salt & pepper to the starch before coating. You can also add onion powder or garlic powder to this.

Arrowroot flour is a versatile and accessible ingredient that can find many uses if you add it to your pantry. It is especially recommended for it is gluten-free, grain-free, keto-friendly, paleo-friendly, and non-GMO. It could also help with diarrhea and stomach pain.

Word of caution: In places where it grows, arrowroot flour has been used for centuries. However, packaged flour could have other ingredients that don’t serve your purpose. Watch out for such ingredients. Moreover, if you experience an allergic reaction, consult your healthcare practitioner immediately.

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