What is it?
Ginger is an herb. The rhizome (underground stem) is used as a spice and also as a medicine. It can be used fresh, dried and powdered, or as a juice or oil.
Ginger is commonly used to treat various types of “stomach problems,” including motion sickness, morning sickness, colic, upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, nausea caused by cancer treatment, nausea and vomiting after surgery, as well as loss of appetite.
Other uses include pain relief from arthritis or muscle soreness, menstrual pain, upper respiratory tract infections, cough, and bronchitis. Ginger is also sometimes used for chest pain, low back pain, and stomach pain.
Some people pour the fresh juice on their skin to treat burns. The oil made from ginger is sometimes applied to the skin to relieve pain.
In foods and beverages, ginger is used as a flavoring agent.
In manufacturing, ginger is used as for fragrance in soaps and cosmetics.
One of the chemicals in ginger is also used as an ingredient in laxative, anti-gas, and antacid medications.
How effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for GINGER are as follows:
Possibly effective for...
- Nausea and vomiting following surgery. Most clinical research shows that taking 1 gram of ginger one hour before surgery seems to reduce nausea and vomiting during the first 24 hours after surgery. One study found ginger reduced nausea and vomiting by 38%. Also, applying ginger oil to patients’ wrists before surgery seems to prevent nausea in about 80% of patients. However, ginger might not reduce nausea and vomiting in the period 3-6 hours after surgery.
- Dizziness. Taking ginger seems to reduce the symptoms of dizziness, including nausea.
- Menstrual pain. Some research shows that ginger can reduce symptoms of menstrual pain in some women when taken during menstruation. One study shows that taking a specific ginger extract (Zintoma, Goldaru) 250 mg four times daily for 3 days at the beginning of the menstrual period reduces pain symptoms in as many as 62% of people. It seems to work about as well as the medications ibuprofen or mefenamic acid.
- Arthritis. Some research shows that taking ginger can modestly reduce pain in some people with a form of arthritis called “osteoarthritis.” One study shows that taking a specific ginger extract (Zintona EC) 250 mg four times daily reduced arthritis pain in the knee after 3 months of treatment. Another study shows that using a different ginger extract (Eurovita Extract 77; EV ext-77), which combines a ginger with alpinia also reduces pain upon standing, pain after walking, and stiffness. Some research has compared ginger to medications such as ibuprofen. In one study, a specific ginger extract (Eurovita Extract 33; EV ext-33) did not work as well as taking ibuprofen 400 mg three times daily for reducing arthritis pain. But in another study, taking ginger extract 500 mg twice daily worked about as well as ibuprofen 400 mg three times daily for hip and knee pain related to arthritis.
In another study, a specific ginger extract combined with glucosamine (Zinaxin glucosamine, EV ext-35) worked as well as the anti-inflamatory medication diclofenac slow release 100 mg daily plus glucosamine sulfate 1 gram daily. Research also suggests that massage therapy using an oil containing ginger and orange seems to reduce short-term stiffness and pain in people with knee pain.
- Preventing morning sickness (discuss the possible risks with your healthcare provider). Ginger seems to reduce nausea and vomiting in some pregnant women. But taking any herb or medication during pregnancy is a big decision. Before taking ginger, be sure to discuss the possible risks with your healthcare provider.
Possibly ineffective for...
- Preventing motion sickness and seasickness. Some people say they feel better after taking ginger before travel, but research findings have been inconsistent. Some research shows no benefit for reducing symptoms of motion sickness or seasickness. However, one study suggests that ginger is more effective than dimenhydrinate, an anti-nausea drug, at reducing stomach related to motion sickness. Another study suggests that taking 1-2 grams of ginger increases the time before nausea starts and reduces the severity of nausea.
- Weight loss. Research suggests that taking a supplement containing ginger, rhubarb, astragalus, red sage, turmeric, and gallic acid (Number Ten) daily for 8 weeks does not increase weight loss or reduce body weight in people who are overweight.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Sudden respiratory system failure (Acute respiratory distress syndrome). Research suggests that administering 120 mg of ginger extract daily for 21 days increases the number of days without ventilator support, the amount of nutrients consumed, and reduces the time spent in intensive care units in people with sudden respiratory system a failure. However, ginger extract does not seem to affect death rates in people with this condition.
- Alcohol hangover. Early research suggests that taking a combination of ginger, pith of Citrus tangerine, and brown sugar before drinking decreases symptoms of alcohol hangovers, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy. There is contradictory evidence about the effectiveness of ginger for nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy for cancer. Some evidence suggests that taking ginger by mouth might help reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy. However, other evidence suggests that adding ginger is no more effective than standard anti-nausea treatments alone.
- Upset stomach (dyspepsia). Evidence suggests that taking a single dose of 1.2 grams of ginger root powder 1 hour before eating speeds up how quickly food empties out of the some in people with dyspepsia.
- High cholesterol. Evidence suggests that taking 1 gram ginger capsules three times daily for 45 days lowers triglyceride and cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol.
- Speeding up labor. Early evidence suggests that bathing in water containing ginger oil does not shorten the length of labor.
- Migraine headache. Evidence suggests that taking a combination of ginger and feverfew might reduce the length and intensity of migraine pain. However, it is not clear if the effects are from ginger, feverfew or the combination.
- Muscle pain after exercise. There is contradictory evidence about whether ginger helps for muscle pain caused by exercise.
- Recovery after surgery. Evidence suggests that inhaling and applying a combination of lavender and ginger oils to the skin before surgery does not reduce distress in children after surgery.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). There is some early evidence that ginger might be helpful for decreasing joint pain in people with RA.
- Trouble swallowing. Evidence suggests that spraying a product containing ginger and clematix root (Tongyan) to the back of the throat improves trouble swallowing in stroke victims. However, it is not beneficial in people with less severe problems swallowing.
- Loss of appetite.
- Migraine headache.
- Preventing nausea caused by chemotherapy.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate ginger for these uses.
Ginger contains chemicals that may reduce nausea and inflammation. Researchers believe the chemicals work primarily in the stomach and intestines, but they may also work in the brain and nervous system to control nausea.
Ginger is LIKELY SAFE for most people. Some people can have mild side effects including heartburn, diarrhea, and general stomach discomfort. Some women have reported extra menstrual bleeding while taking ginger.
When ginger is applied to the skin, it may cause irritation.
Special precautions & warnings:
Pregnancy: Using ginger during pregnancy is controversial. There is some concern that ginger might affect fetal sex hormones. There is also a report of miscarriage during week 12 of pregnancy in a woman who used ginger for morning sickness. However, studies in pregnant women suggest that ginger can be used safely for morning sickness without harm to the baby. The risk for major malformations in infants of women taking ginger does not appear to be higher than the usual rate of 1% to 3%. Also there doesn’t appear to be an increased risk of early labor or low birth weight. There is some concern that ginger might increase the risk of bleeding, so some experts advise againsting using it close to your delivery date. As with any medication given during pregnancy, it’s important to weigh the benefit against the risk. Before using ginger during pregnancy, talk it over with your healthcare provider.
Breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the safety of using ginger during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and don’t use it.
Bleeding disorders: Taking ginger might increase your risk of bleeding.
Diabetes: Ginger might lower your blood sugar. As a result, your diabetes medications might need to be adjusted by your healthcare provider.
Heart conditions: High doses of ginger might worsen some heart conditions.
Do not take this combination.
Taking ginger along with nifedipne might slow blood clotting and increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Be cautious with this combination.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Ginger might slow blood clotting. Taking ginger along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Phenprocoumon is used in Europe to slow blood clotting. Ginger can also slow blood clotting. Taking ginger along with phenprocoumon might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your phenprocoumon might need to be changed.
Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Ginger can also slow blood clotting. Taking ginger along with warfarin (Coumadin) might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.
Be watchful with this combination.
Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)
Ginger might increase how much cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) the body absorbs. Taking ginger along with cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) might increase the side effects of cyclosporine.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Ginger might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking ginger along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, metformin (Glucophage), pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), and others.
Medications for high blood pressure (Calcium channel blockers)
Ginger might reduce blood pressure in a way that is similar to some medications for blood pressure and heart disease. Taking ginger along with these medications might cause your blood pressure to drop too low or cause an irregular heartbeat.
Some medications for high blood pressure and heart disease include nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan), diltiazem (Cardizem), isradipine (DynaCirc), felodipine (Plendil), amlodipine (Norvasc), and others.
Ginger can increase how much metronidazole (Flagyl) the body absorbs. Taking ginger along with metronidazole (Flagyl) might increase the side effects of metronidazole.
Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar
Ginger might lower blood sugar. Using ginger along with other herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar might lower blood sugar too much. Herbs that might lower blood sugar include devil's claw, fenugreek, guar gum, Panax ginseng, Siberian ginseng, and others.
Herbs and supplements that might slow blood clotting
Using ginger along with herbs that might slow blood clotting could increase the risk of bleeding in some people. These herbs include angelica, clove, danshen, garlic, ginkgo, Panax ginseng, red clover, turmeric, and others.
There are no known interactions with foods.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For morning sickness: 250 mg ginger 4 times daily.
- For postoperative nausea and vomiting: 1-2 grams powdered ginger root one hour before induction of anesthesia.
- For arthritis: Many different ginger extract products have been used in studies. The dosing used differs depending on the product taken. One ginger extract (Eurovita Extract 33; EV ext-33) 170 mg three times daily has been used. Another extract (Eurovita Extract 77; EV ext-77), which combines a gingert with an alpinia, 255 mg twice daily has also been used. Another ginger extract (Zintona EC) 250 mg four times daily has also been used.
African Ginger, Amomum Zingiber, Ardraka, Black Ginger, Cochin Ginger, Gan Jiang, Gingembre, Gingembre Africain, Gingembre Cochin, Gingembre Indien, Gingembre Jamaïquain, Gingembre Noir, Ginger Essential Oil, Ginger Root, Huile Essentielle de Gingembre, Imber, Indian Ginger, Jamaica Ginger, Jengibre, Jiang, Kankyo, Kanshokyo, Nagara, Race Ginger, Racine de Gingembre, Rhizoma Zingiberi, Rhizoma Zingiberis, Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens, Shen Jiang, Sheng Jiang, Shoga, Shokyo, Shunthi, Srungavera, Sunth, Sunthi, Vishvabheshaja, Zingiber Officinale, Zingiberis Rhizoma, Zingiberis Siccatum Rhizoma, Zinzeberis, Zinziber Officinale, Zinziber Officinalis.
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.methodology (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/methodology.html).
To see all references for the Ginger page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/961.html.
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Last reviewed - 04/10/2014
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