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Ginger



Background

Ginger is a tropical plant that has green-purple flowers and a fragrant underground stem (called a rhizome). It is widely used as a flavoring or fragrance in foods, beverages, soaps, and cosmetics.

Ancient Sanskrit, Chinese, Greek, Roman, and Arabic texts discussed the use of ginger for health-related purposes. In Asian medicine, dried ginger has been used for thousands of years to treat stomach ache, diarrhea, and nausea.

Today, ginger is used as a dietary supplement for postsurgery nausea; nausea caused by motion, chemotherapy, or pregnancy; rheumatoid arthritis; and osteoarthritis.

Common forms of ginger include the fresh or dried root, tablets, capsules, liquid extracts, and teas.

How Much Do We Know?

There’s some information from studies in people on the use of ginger for nausea and vomiting.

Much less is known about other uses of ginger for other health conditions.

What Have We Learned?

Some evidence indicates that ginger may help relieve pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting.

Ginger may help to control nausea related to cancer chemotherapy when used in addition to conventional anti-nausea medication.

It’s unclear whether ginger is helpful for postsurgery nausea, motion sickness, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoarthritis.

What Do We Know About Safety?

Ginger, when used as a spice, is believed to be generally safe.

In some people, ginger can have mild side effects such as abdominal discomfort, heartburn, diarrhea, and gas.

Some experts recommend that people with gallstone disease use caution with ginger because it may increase the flow of bile.

Research has not definitely shown whether ginger interacts with medications, but concerns have been raised that it might interact with anticoagulants (blood thinners).

Although several studies have found no evidence of harm from taking ginger during pregnancy, it’s uncertain whether ginger is always safe for pregnant women. If you’re considering using ginger while you’re pregnant, consult your health care provider.

Keep in Mind

Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Key References

  • Ding M, Leach M, Bradley H. The effectiveness and safety of ginger for pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting: a systematic review. Women and Birth. 2013;26(1):e26-e30.
  • Ginger. Natural Medicines Web site. Accessed at naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com on April 15, 2015. [Database subscription].
  • Ginger root. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:153-159.
  • Heitmann K, Nordeng H, Holst L. Safety of ginger use in pregnancy: results from a large population-based cohort study. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2013;69(2):269-277.
  • Low Dog T. Ginger. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Informa Healthcare; 2010:325-331.
  • Matthews A, Haas DM, O’Mathuna DP, et al. Interventions for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2014;(3):CD007575. Accessed at http://www.thecochranelibrary.com(link is external) on April 16, 2015.
  • Pillai AK, Sharma KK, Gupta YK, et al. Anti-emetic effect of ginger powder versus placebo as an add-on therapy in children and young adults receiving high emetogenic chemotherapy. Pediatric Blood & Cancer. 2011;56(2):234-238.
  • Ryan JL, Heckler CE, Roscoe JA, et al. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces acute chemotherapy-induced nausea: a URCC CCOP study of 576 patients. Supportive Care in Cancer. 2012;20(7):1479-1489.

-NIH



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