Muscle soreness and fatigue are two major deterrents for people who exercise at a high intensity.
Many well-intentioned workout resolutions have been thwarted by the first signs of sore, stiff muscles in the days following a visit to the gym.
But one study has found a potential solution, and one that might be as close by as your kitchen spice rack.
The study, which comes out of Iran’s Isfahan University of Medical sciences, tested the effects of ginger and cinnamon on muscle pain in 60 female athletes – competitive Taekwondo players between the ages of 13 and 25.
For six weeks, the study participants were placed into three groups and given three grams (1 tsp = 4 grams) of either powdered ginger, powdered cinnamon, or a placebo each day.
The women were then tested for markers of inflammation and muscle soreness.
The results showed that women in both the ginger and cinnamon groups showed less soreness and inflammation than the women in the placebo group(1).
Herbal Anti-Inflammatories: A Safer Alternative
“The use of both over-the-counter and prescription nonsteroidal medications is frequently recommended in a typical neurosurgical practice,” one article reports.
“But persistent long-term use safety concerns must be considered when prescribing these medications for chronic and degenerative pain conditions… Although nonsteroidal medications can be effective, herbs and dietary supplements may offer a safer, and often an effective, alternative treatment for pain relief, especially for long-term use.”(2)
The article, which was written in 2010, cites ginger and cinnamon as potential herbal anti-inflammatories.
Ginger And Cinnamon: Many Health Benefits
Ginger and cinnamon have a whole host of health benefits individually. Ginger, for example, is used to treat nausea associated with morning sickness and chemotherapy treatment(3); it also can relieve pain and swelling and restore some mobility to those living with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis(4).
Cinnamon, in turn, is used worldwide for more than just its distinctive flavor; it can lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, alleviate menstrual cramps, support healthy blood clotting, and improve digestion, among other benefits(5).
The flavors of cinnamon and ginger pair together nicely, and the two herbs can be used liberally in teas, marinades, salad dressings and stir-fries. You can even add them to a daily smoothie, applesauce or yogurt; a cinnamon stick dropped into your morning tea or coffee may be beneficial as well.
Always remember to buy certified organic spices, and be aware that some form of cinnamon, particularly the cassia form, contain naturally occurring blood thinners – so it may be a good idea to stick to the Ceylon or verum varieties of cinnamon.