Can ginger increase metabolic rate and improve circulation in the hands and feet?

A pilot trial to discover whether ginger root can increase metabolic rate and improve circulation in the hands and feet is getting under way at The University of Reading.

Ginger root, as well as being a spice used in Oriental cuisine, has been used for centuries as a traditional medicine to improve the circulation in hands and feet. The "warming" effects of other herbs, including chilli and mustard, have been shown to be associated with increased metabolic rate, but the "warming" effects of ginger have not been properly investigated.

Reading researchers, led by Dr Ann Walker in the School of Food Biosciences, are now looking for 36 men or women to take part in the 'Thermogin' pilot trial to discover whether a ginger supplement can increase metabolic rate.

Dr Walker, who is a senior lecturer in human nutrition and a registered herbal practitioner, says: "Ginger is a favourite herb used by herbal practitioners to warm cold hands and feet, but it also has many other uses. It can help with minor digestive problems, and has been shown to reduce inflammation in the joints.

"Practitioners find that the regular use of one gram of dried root a day over a period of about six weeks can be very effective in warming cold hands and feet. It would be great to be able to show that these effects have a firm scientific basis."

Volunteers for the Thermogin study must be between 18 to 40 years old, healthy, without excessive weight and without a history of thyroid, or other chronic disease. However, sufferers of cold hands and feet would be welcome. The study involves two visits, two months apart, to the Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition at the University. Metabolic rate will be determined by placing a clear plastic hood over the head to collect exhaled air. No blood samples are required.

Volunteer enquiries: contact Dr Steve Hicks, (a pharmacologist and medical herbalist), who is in charge of the day-to-day arrangement of the trial: Please write with name and address to: The Thermogin Study, PO Box 226, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AP and include contact telephone number or e-mail: [email protected]

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