External Applications in Anthroposophic Nursing

Ginger Joint Compress

Kind of substance

Ginger (freshly grated or as a powder)

Guiding principle for the application

The intensive, inwardly radiating warmth of ginger counteracts arthritic processes in the joints by stimulating local blood circulation and metabolism. This improves the mobility of the joints and the pain subsides.

Guiding Principle for the substance


  • Osteoarthritis
  • Pain in osteoarthritis


This application should not be used during activated osteoarthritis.

Here we shall describe a wrapped knee compress. To apply to other joints, adjust the dimensions accordingly.


  • 2 outer cloths
  • 2 intermediate cloths
  • 2 protective cloths (terrycloth hand towels for moisture protection), folded double
  • 2 inner cloths (e.g., torn cloth, handkerchief or strong kitchen paper) so large that, folded once, they fit around the knee joint and extend slightly above and below the knee.
  • 2 hot-water bottles
  • Ginger root, unpeeled, or ginger powder
  • Grater

  • Lay the outer cloth on the intermediate cloth
  • Place the filled hot-water bottle in the middle
  • Then put the folded protective cloth on it
  • Place half of the inner cloth over it
  • Grate the ginger root onto the part of the inner cloth that is lying on the protective cloth (if using ginger powder, see the instructions for other ginger applications)
  • Place the free half of the inner cloth on top and fold it in from all sides to form a closed pack
  • Then turn the ginger pack over so that the application side (with only one layer of cloth) is on top
  • Warm for approx. 5 minutes so that the coolness escapes from the moist rhizome mass (do not heat)
  • Roll up the ends of the outer and intermediate cloths
  • Go to the patient with all of the materials
  • The patient lies in bed
  • Remove the hot-water bottle

To apply the compress:
  • Mold the ginger compress quickly around the joint from above. Leave the hollow of the knee free
  • Wrap the other cloths around the knee joint and mold them in place
  • Put something soft under the knee
  • Cover the patient
  • After 30–40 minutes, remove the compress and end the bed rest
  • Post-treatment rest 30 minutes
  • Keep the knee joints warm with knee pads (wool)

  • Dispose of the ginger
  • Wash out and dry the cloths

Well-proven in many patients
1 x daily, in the morning if possible
Onset of effect
Length of therapy
As needed
Other recommended therapies
Wrapped quark (farmer’s cheese) compresses with arnica essence are recommended in case of activated osteoarthritis (inflammatory relapse).
In case of sensitive skin there may be a distinct reddening of the skin. Do not apply the next compress before the reddening of the skin has subsided.

Instructions to download

Case example

A 67-year-old woman has been suffering from polyarthritis of unexplained origin in her foot and knee joints for five years. The degeneration of her joints is already well advanced. She suffers from severe pain when moving and can only take small steps. For three years she has been treating her knee joints every morning with wrapped ginger compresses, sometimes with freshly grated ginger root, especially when she is travelling. At home she prefers dried ginger powder. These applications are necessary on a daily basis. Her complaints are significantly better after each application. When the patient takes a break from treatment, she can hardly move her knee joints. The ginger application improves her morning stiffness immediately. The patient experiences the warming through of her knee joints as the decisive effect. It is noticeable that her untreated ankles show pronounced stiffness and swelling. She takes no other medication to treat this joint disease.


TB, Red.


  • Therkleson T. (2010). Ginger compress therapy for adults with osteoarthritis. J Adv Nurs, 66(10): 2225–2233.
  • Altman Roy D, Marcussen KC. Effects of a ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatism 44.11 (2001): 2531–2538.
  • Therkleson T. Ginger therapy for osteoarthritis: a typical case. Journal of Holistic Nursing 32.3 (2014): 232–239.
  • Yip YB, Tam ACY. (2008). An experimental study on the effectiveness of massage with aromatic ginger and orange essential oil for moderate-to-severe knee pain among the elderly in Hong Kong.  Complementary therapies in medicine, 16(3), 131–138.