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%. 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.
- 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 there is no hard evidence that ginger actually prevents motion sickness or seasickness.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). There is some preliminary evidence that ginger might be helpful for decreasing joint pain in people with RA.
- Nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy. There is contradictory evidence about the effectiveness of ginger for nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy for cancer.
- Muscle pain after exercise. There is contradictory evidence about whether ginger helps for muscle pain caused by exercise.
- 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 adise 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. Avoid using it.
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. Don’t use ginger if you have a heart condition.
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.
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.
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.
- Heitmann K, Nordeng H, Holst L. Safety of ginger use in pregnancy: results from a large population-based cohort study. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 2012 Jun 17.
- Drozdov VN, Kim VA, Tkachenko EV, Varvanina GG. Influence of a specific ginger combination on gastropathy conditions in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. J Alt Compl Med 2012;18:583-8.
- Black CD, O'Connor PJ. Acute effects of dietary ginger on muscle pain induced by eccentric exercise. Phytother Res 2010;24:1620-6.
- Black CD, Herring MP, Hurley DJ, O'Connor PJ. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces muscle pain caused by eccentric exercise. J Pain 2010;11:894-903.
- Black CD, Oconnor PJ. Acute effects of dietary ginger on quadriceps muscle pain during moderate-intensity cycling exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2008;18:653-64.
- Ozgoli G, Goli M, Moattar F. Comparison of effects of ginger, mefenamic acid, and ibuprofen on pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea. J Altern Complement Med 2009;15:129-32.
- Haghighi M, Khalva A, Toliat T, Jallaei S. Comparing the effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale) extract and ibuprofen on patients with osteoarthritis. Arch Iran Med 2005;8:267-71.
- Leach MJ, Kumar S. The clinical effectiveness of ginger (Zingiber officinale) in adults with osteoarthritis. Int J Evid Based Healthc 2008;6:311-20.
- Terry R, Posadzki P, Watson LK, Ernst E. The use of ginger (Zingiber officinale) for the treatment of pain: a systematic review of clinical trials. Pain Med 2011;12:1808-18.
- Eberhart LH, Mayer R, Betz O, et al. Ginger does not prevent postoperative nausea and vomiting after laparoscopic surgery. Anesth Analg 2003;96:995-8.
Chittumma P, Kaewkiattikun K, Wiriyasiriwach B. Comparison of the effectiveness of ginger and vitamin B6 for treatment of nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy: a randomized double-blind controlled trial. J Med Assoc Thai 2007;90:15-20.
- Pongrojpaw D, Somprasit C, Chanthasenanont A. A randomized comparison of ginger and dimenhydrinate in the treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. J Med Assoc Thai 2007;90:1703-9.
- Jiang X, Blair EY, McLachlan AJ. Investigation of the effects of herbal medicines on warfarin response in healthy subjects: a population pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic modeling approach. J Clin Pharmacol 2006;46:1370-8.
- Manusirivithaya S, Sripramote M, Tangjitgamol S, et al. Antiemetic effect of ginger in gynecologic oncology patients receiving cisplatin. Int J Gynecol Cancer 2004;14:1063-9.
- Chaiyakunapruk N, Kitikannakorn N, Nathisuwan S, et al. The efficacy of ginger for the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting: a meta-analysis. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2006;194:95-9.
- Smith C, Crowther C, Wilson K et al. A randomized controlled trial of ginger to treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol 2004;103:639-45.
- Borrelli F, Capasso R, Aviello G, et al. Effectiveness and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting. Obstet Gynecol 2005;105:849-56.
- Jiang X, Williams KM, Liauw WS, et al. Effect of ginkgo and ginger on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of warfarin in healthy subjects. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2005;59:425-32.
- Kruth P, Brosi E, Fux R, et al. Ginger-associated overanticoagulation by phenprocoumon. Ann Pharmacother 2004;38:257-60.
- Akhani SP, Vishwakarma SL, Goyal RK. Anti-diabetic activity of Zingiber officinale in streptozotocin-induced type I diabetic rats. J Pharm Pharmacol 2004;56:101-5.
- Kanerva L, Estlander T, Jolanki R. Occupational allergic contact dermatitis from spices. Contact Dermatitis 1996;35:157-62.
- Thomson M, Al-Qattan KK, Al-Sawan SM, et al. The use of ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) as a potential anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic agent. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2002;67:475-8.
- Ghayur MN, Gilani AH. Ginger lowers blood pressure through blockade of voltage-dependent calcium channels. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 2005;45:74-80.
- Suekawa M, Ishige A, Yuasa K, et al. Pharmacological studies on ginger. I. Pharmacological actions of pungent constitutents, -gingerol and -shogaol. J Pharmacobiodyn 1984;7:836-48.
- Frondoza CG, Sohrabi A, Polotsky A, et al. An in vitro screening assay for inhibitors of proinflammatory mediators in herbal extracts using human synoviocyte cultures. In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Anim 2004;40:95-101.
- Wigler I, Grotto I, Caspi D, Yaron M. The effects of Zintona EC (a ginger extract) on symptomatic gonarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2003;11:783-9.
- Portnoi G, Chng LA, Karimi-Tabesh L, et al. Prospective comparative study of the safety and effectiveness of ginger for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2003;189:1374-7.
- Nagabhushan M, Amonkar AJ, Bhide SV. Mutagenicity of gingerol and shogaol and antimutagenicity of zingerone in Salmonella/microsome assay. Cancer Lett 1987;36:221-33.
- Wilkinson JM. Effect of ginger tea on the fetal development of Sprague-Dawley rats. Reprod Toxicol 2000;14:507-12.
- Weidner MS, Sigwart K. Investigation of the teratogenic potential of a zingiber officinale extract in the rat. Reprod Toxicol 2001;15:75-80.
- Langner E, Greifenberg S, Gruenwald J. Ginger: history and use. Adv Ther 1998;15:25-44.
- Wood CD, Manno JE, Wood MJ, et al. Comparison of efficacy of ginger with various antimotion sickness drugs. Clin Res Pr Drug Regul Aff 1988;6:129-36.
- Stewart JJ, Wood MJ, Wood CD, Mims ME. Effects of ginger on motion sickness susceptibility and gastric function. Pharmacology 1991;42:111-20.
- Grontved A, Hentzer E. Vertigo-reducing effect of ginger root. A controlled clinical study. ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec 1986;48:282-6.
- Srivastava KC. Effect of onion and ginger consumption on platelet thromboxane production in humans. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 1989;35:183-5.
- Phillips S, Hutchinson S, Ruggier R. Zingiber officinale does not affect gastric emptying rate. A randomised, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. Anaesthesia 1993;48:393-5.
- Srivastava KC, Mustafa T. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and rheumatic disorders. Med Hypotheses 1989;29:25-8.
- Grontved A, Brask T, Kambskard J, Hentzer E. Ginger root against seasickness: a controlled trial on the open sea. Acta Otolaryngol 1998;105:45-9.
- Marcus DM, Suarez-Almazor ME. Is there a role for ginger in the treatment of osteoarthritis? Arthritis Rheum 2001;44:2461-2.
- Altman RD, Marcussen KC. Effects of ginger extract on knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum 2001;44:2531-38.
- Backon J. Ginger in preventing nausea and vomiting of pregnancy; a caveat due to its thromboxane synthetase activity and effect on testosterone binding. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 1991;42:163-4.
- Bliddal H, Rosetzsky A, Schlichting P, et al. A randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over study of ginger extracts and ibuprofen in osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2000;8:9-12.
- Vutyavanich T, Kraisarin T, Ruangsri R. Ginger for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol 2001;97:577-82.
- Visalyaputra S, Petchpaisit N, Somcharoen K, Choavaratana R. The efficacy of ginger root in the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting after outpatient gynaecological laparoscopy. Anaesthesia 1998;53:506-10.
- Arfeen Z, Owen H, Plummer JL, et al. A double-blind randomized controlled trial of ginger for the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting. Anaesth Intensive Care 1995;23:449-52.
- Schechter JO. Treatment of disequilibrium and nausea in the SRI discontinuation syndrome. J Clin Psychiatry 1998;59:431-2.
- Lumb AB. Mechanism of antiemetic effect of ginger. Anaesthesia 1993;48:1118.
- Micklefield GH, Redeker Y, Meister V, et al. Effects of ginger on gastroduodenal motility. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 1999;37:341-6.
- Jewell D, Young G. Interventions for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2000;:CD000145.
- Wilkinson JM. What do we know about herbal morning sickness treatments? A literature survey. Midwifery 2000;16:224-8.
- Anon. Case problem: presenting conventional and complementary approaches for relieving nausea in a breast cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy. J Am Diet Assoc 2000;100:257-9.
- Ernst E, Pittler MH. Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Br J Anaesth 2000;84:367-71.
- Bone ME, Wilkinson DJ, Young JR, et al. Ginger root-a new antiemetic. The effect of ginger root on postoperative nausea and vomiting after major gynaecological surgery. Anaesthesia 1990;45:669-71.
- Phillips S, Ruggier R, Hutchinson SE. Zingiber officinale (ginger)-an antiemetic for day case surgery. Anaesthesia 1993;48:715-7.
- Fischer-Rasmussen W, Kjaer SK, Dahl C, Asping U. Ginger treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 1991;38:19-24.
- Show more references
- Show fewer references
Last reviewed - 02/04/2013
This copyrighted, evidence-based medicine resource is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database disclaims any responsibility related to consequences of using any product. This monograph should not replace advice from a healthcare professional and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
Copyright © 1995 - 2013 Therapeutic Research Faculty
, publishers of Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database
, Prescriber’s Letter
, Pharmacist’s Letter
. All rights reserved. For scientific data on natural medicines, professionals may consult the Professional Version of Natural Medicines Comprehensive DatabaseNatural Medicines Comprehensive Database (http://www.naturaldatabase.com/)