INDEX

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Background

  • The roots and stems of ginger have had roles in Chinese, Japanese, and Indian medicine since the 1500s. The oil and resin of ginger is often contained in digestive products, cough suppressants, anti-gas products, and laxatives.
  • Research supports ginger for reducing the severity and duration of nausea and vomiting due to pregnancy. Effects appear to be additive when used with prochlorperazine (Compazine®). The optimal dose remains unclear. Ginger’s effects on other types of nausea and vomiting, such as postoperative nausea, chemotherapy-induced nausea, or motion sickness, remains unclear.
  • Ginger is taken by mouth, applied to the skin, and injected into the muscle for a wide array of conditions, without clear scientific evidence of benefit.
  • The most frequent side effects from ginger use are upset stomach, heartburn, gas, and bloating. Ginger may theoretically increase bleeding risk.

Scientific Evidence

Uses Grade*
Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy

A few studies suggest that up to 1.5 grams of ginger daily may be safe and effective for pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting. Some publications discourage large doses of ginger during pregnancy due to concerns about mutations or abortions. Additional research focused on the safety of ginger during pregnancy is needed.

A
Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting

Early research reports that ginger may reduce the severity and length of time that cancer patients feel nauseous after chemotherapy. Other studies show a lack of effect. Additional research is needed in this area.

B
Anti-inflammatory

Ginger and its components have been explored as anti-inflammatory agents. Ginger has been shown to lower the level of some inflammatory markers in the colon. Additional high-quality research in this area is needed.

C
Alcohol-induced hangover

Preliminary evidence suggests that a ginger root combination product reduces symptoms of alcoholic hangover and improves well-being. Further research on the effects of ginger alone is needed.

C
Asthma

Ginger moxibustion or combination ginger medication cakes have shown beneficial effects for asthma. Incorporating ginger into acupoint treatment has improved symptoms, quality of life, and markers of the immune system. Further research using ginger alone is needed.

C
Bleeding (upper digestive tract)

A combination product with ginger may benefit patients with bleeding in the upper digestive tract. However, the effects of ginger alone are unclear, and additional studies are needed.

C
Blood flow stimulation

The use of ginger in combination with agents that promote bleeding may enhance their effect and increase bleeding risk. Ginger has also been reported to act as an anticoagulant. Additional research is needed in this area.

C
Cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)

Ginger-partition moxibustion with acupuncture has demonstrated improved treatment efficacy for cardiac arrhythmias compared to conventional Western medications. Additional research using ginger alone is needed.

C
Chemotherapy-induced leukopenia (decrease in white blood cells)

Ginger-partitioned moxibustion may be effective in treating low blood cell count from chemotherapy. While the results are promising, the role of ginger alone is unclear. Additional studies are needed to make a conclusion.

C
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Preliminary research suggests that the combination ginger medicine packs with acupoint sticking may benefit COPD treatment. Further research focused on ginger alone is needed in this area.

C
Dental plaque/gingivitis

In early research, a toothpaste with ginger improved bacterial count, plaque index, and reduced the sites prone to bleeding in the mouth. Additional research using ginger alone is needed before any firm conclusions may be made.

C
Emotional distress

Aromatherapy using both ginger and lavender essential oils demonstrated a lack of effect on distress level and treatment satisfaction. The effect of ginger aromatherapy alone is unclear. Further research in this area is needed.

C
Exercise recovery

Early results on the effects of ginger on post-exercise muscle recovery are conflicting. Some research has demonstrated reductions in pain intensity vs. placebo, while others have shown a lack of effect. More well-designed trials are needed in this area.

C
Gastrointestinal motility

Preliminary research suggests that ginger exerts some effects on gastrointestinal motility. However, evidence in this area is limited. Further high-quality research is needed to draw a conclusion.

C
High cholesterol

Ginger has been investigated as a cholesterol-lowering agent with promising results. More well-designed trials are needed before a firm conclusion may be made.

C
Hyperglycemia-evoked dysrhythmias (irregular heartbeat from high blood sugar)

Ginger may prevent irregular heartbeat by reducing production of a substance for muscle contraction. Additional research is needed before a conclusion may be made.

C
Indigestion

In preliminary research, ginger increased the rate of gastric emptying in individuals with indigestion. Further well-designed research is needed in this area.

C
Malaria

Ginger-partitioned moxibustion has demonstrated an effective treatment rate for malaria. Further well-designed research using ginger alone is needed in this area.

C
Migraine

Ginger in combination with feverfew has been studied for migraine prevention. Additional studies involving ginger alone are needed.

C
Motion sickness/seasickness

Research has found ginger to have varying effects on motion sickness. Ginger may reduce vomiting, but not nausea or vertigo. Additional studies are warranted before a conclusion may be made.

C
Nausea and vomiting (after surgery)

Some human studies report improvement in nausea or vomiting after surgery if patients take ginger before surgery. However, other research shows a lack of effect. Additional studies are needed in this area before a conclusion can be made. Use of ginger during surgery should be approached with caution.

C
Osteoarthritis

Ginger has been studied as a possible treatment for osteoarthritis. However, results of these studies are mixed. More research is needed in this area.

C
Pain relief

Research suggests conflicting results regarding the effect of ginger on pain. A ginger aromatic essential oil combined with massage may be effective in reducing knee pain. Further high-quality research with ginger alone is warranted.

C
Painful menstruation

According to early evidence, ginger-partitioned moxibustion has demonstrated some beneficial treatment effects. More well-designed trials are needed before a conclusion may be made.

C
Post-stroke rehabilitation

Early research suggests that ginger combined with Tongyan spray may help treat difficulty swallowing following a stroke. Ginger-salt-partitioned moxibustion combined with acupuncture may be effective for urinary disorders following a stroke. Further high-quality research using ginger alone is needed.

C
Respiratory distress

Early research suggests that ginger has beneficial effects in some outcomes associated with adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Further well-designed research is needed to draw a conclusion.

C
Rheumatoid arthritis

There is insufficient evidence for or against the use of ginger for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Additional research using ginger alone is needed on this topic.

C
Sepsis (deadly infection)

Ginger as part of a traditional Chinese medicine has been investigated in the treatment of septic shock. Further research in this area is needed.

C
Shortening labor

Ginger has a long history of use during pregnancy; it is commonly used to relieve nausea and vomiting. However, additional studies are needed for use in shortening labor.

C
Tonsillitis (tonsil infection)

A folk medicine that includes ginger reduced the incidence of tonsil infection. Further high-quality research employing ginger alone is needed in this area.

C
Weight loss

Ginger has been suggested as a possible weight loss aid. However, research has demonstrated conflicting results. Additional studies involving ginger alone are needed in this area.

C

*Key to grades:

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;

B: Good scientific evidence for this use;

C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;

D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);

F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).

Tradition

  • Allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, anesthesia, antacid, anthelmintic, antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, athlete’s foot, baldness, bile secretion, blood circulation (rubefacient), bronchitis, burns (topical), cancer, cholera (watery diarrhea), clogged arteries, colds, colic, constipation, coronary artery disease, cramps, cough, dementia, depression, diabetes, diarrhea, digestive aid, diminished appetite (anorexia), dieresis (increased urine), dysentery (bloody diarrhea), energy metabolism, expectorant (loosens mucus), fever, flu, food flavoring, gallbladder disease, gas, headache, heart disease, Helicobacter pylori infection, high blood pressure, immune system disorders (Kawasaki disease), immune system stimulation, impotence, increasing breast milk, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis), insect repellent, insecticide, intestinal parasites, irritable bowel syndrome, kidney disease, kidney toxicity, leukemia, liver disease, liver toxicity, low blood pressure, malabsorption, muscle aches, neuroblastoma (cancer), neurological disorders, orchitis (swollen or painful testes), poisonous snake bites, postoperative ileus (bowel obstruction), promotion of menstruation, psoriasis, radioprotection, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) discontinuation or tapering, serotonin-induced hypothermia (low body temperature), sexual arousal, sore throat, sprains, stimulation of energy, stomachache, sweating, thrombosis (clots), tonic, toothache, ulcers, urinary disorders, vomiting (general), wrinkle prevention.

Dosing

Adults (over 18 years old)

  • Most experts suggest a dose of 1-4 grams daily of ginger powder, tablets, or fresh-cut ginger in divided doses by mouth. Many publications note that the maximum recommended daily dose of ginger is 4 grams.
  • For an anti-inflammatory use, 2 grams of ginger root extract has been taken daily for 28 days by mouth as eight 250 milligram capsules (Pure Encapsulations®).
  • For chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, liquid ginger root extract has been taken in doses of 0.5 grams, 1 gram, and 1.5 grams in divided doses by mouth twice daily for six days. Ginger root powder capsules have also been taken in doses of 1 gram or 2 grams by mouth daily over the first three days of chemotherapy.
  • For exercise recovery, six capsules totaling 2 grams of raw or 2 grams of heat-treated ginger have been taken by mouth daily for 11 days.
  • For gastrointestinal motility, 1 gram of ginger powder diluted in 100 milliliters of distilled water has been taken by mouth.
  • For high cholesterol, 3 grams of ginger capsules has been taken daily by mouth in three divided doses for 45 days.
  • For indigestion, 1.2 grams of ginger root powder has been taken by mouth as a single dose.
  • For irregular heart beat from high blood sugar, 1 gram of ginger root has been taken by mouth before undergoing fasting electrogastrography.
  • For motion sickness or seasickness, 1-2 grams of ginger has been taken daily by mouth in divided doses.
  • For nausea and vomiting after surgery, 0.5-1 grams of ginger has been taken one hour prior to surgery. Two to three capsules of ginger (each containing 0.5 grams of ginger powder) have been taken by mouth one hour before a gynecological laparoscopy. Ginger use during surgery should be approached cautiously.
  • For nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, 500-2000 milligrams of ginger extract (EX.EXT 35) or powder has been taken by mouth for up to three weeks in capsule or syrup form in single or divided doses. Consumption of ginger in amounts greater than those commonly found in food (<1 gram of dry weight daily) is not suggested during pregnancy by some authors.
  • For osteoarthritis, 30-1,000 milligrams of ginger has been taken daily by mouth for periods of 3-12 weeks in single or divided doses. Specifically, a combination formulation of two ginger species, Zingiber officinale and Alpinia galanga (EV.EXT 77), has been taken by mouth twice daily for six weeks.
  • For painful menstruation, one capsule containing 250 milligrams of ginger root powder has been taken by mouth four times daily for three days from the start of the menstrual period.
  • For pain relief, 30-2000 milligrams of ginger, ginger extract, or ginger root powder has been taken by mouth in single or divided doses for exercise-induced muscle pain, osteoarthritis pain, pain during menstruation, or gonarthritis pain.
  • For respiratory distress, 120 milligrams of ginger extract has been taken in three divided doses for 21 days through a feeding tube inserted in the nose.
  • For rheumatoid arthritis, 1-4 grams of powdered ginger or ginger has been taken by mouth daily.
  • For weight loss, 2 grams of dried ginger powder dissolved in 6 ounces of hot water has been taken by mouth as a single dose.
  • Note: The mild gastrointestinal distress sometimes associated with ginger may be reduced by taking ginger as a capsule, rather than powdered ginger.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for ginger in children.

References

  1. Cady, R. K., Goldstein, J., Nett, R., Mitchell, R., Beach, M. E., and Browning, R. A double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study of sublingual feverfew and ginger (LipiGesic M) in the treatment of migraine. Headache 2011;51(7):1078-1086. View Abstract
  2. Chan, H. T., So, L. T., Li, S. W., Siu, C. W., Lau, C. P., and Tse, H. F. Effect of herbal consumption on time in therapeutic range of warfarin therapy in patients with atrial fibrillation. J.Cardiovasc.Pharmacol. 2011;58(1):87-90. View Abstract
  3. Chopra, A., Saluja, M., Tillu, G., Venugopalan, A., Narsimulu, G., Handa, R., Bichile, L., Raut, A., Sarmukaddam, S., and Patwardhan, B. Comparable efficacy of standardized Ayurveda formulation and hydroxychloroquine sulfate (HCQS) in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA): a randomized investigator-blind controlled study. Clin.Rheumatol. 2012;31(2):259-269. View Abstract
  4. Drozdov, V. N., Kim, V. A., Tkachenko, E. V., and Varvanina, G. G. Influence of a specific ginger combination on gastropathy conditions in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. J.Altern.Complement Med. 2012;18(6):583-588. View Abstract
  5. Feng, X. G., Hao, W. J., Ding, Z., Sui, Q., Guo, H., and Fu, J. Clinical study on tongyan spray for post-stroke dysphagia patients: a randomized controlled trial. Chin J.Integr.Med. 2012;18(5):345-349. View Abstract
  6. Heitmann, K., Nordeng, H., and Holst, L. Safety of ginger use in pregnancy: results from a large population-based cohort study. Eur.J.Clin.Pharmacol. 2013;69(2):269-277. View Abstract
  7. Hu, M. L., Rayner, C. K., Wu, K. L., Chuah, S. K., Tai, W. C., Chou, Y. P., Chiu, Y. C., Chiu, K. W., and Hu, T. H. Effect of ginger on gastric motility and symptoms of functional dyspepsia. World J.Gastroenterol. 1-7-2011;17(1):105-110. View Abstract
  8. Jayashankar, S., Panagoda, G. J., Amaratunga, E. A., Perera, K., and Rajapakse, P. S. A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study on the effects of a herbal toothpaste on gingival bleeding, oral hygiene and microbial variables. Ceylon Med.J. 2011;56(1):5-9. View Abstract
  9. Lu, M., Zhang, L. F., Yuan, Y., and Yu, D. D. [Comparison on heat sensation degree of ginger-partition moxibustion and suspended moxibustion at different acupoints for different time]. Zhongguo Zhen.Jiu. 2011;31(3):232-235. View Abstract
  10. Mansour, M. S., Ni, Y. M., Roberts, A. L., Kelleman, M., Roychoudhury, A., and St-Onge, M. P. Ginger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: a pilot study. Metabolism 2012;61(10):1347-1352. View Abstract
  11. Mohammadbeigi, R., Shahgeibi, S., Soufizadeh, N., Rezaiie, M., and Farhadifar, F. Comparing the effects of ginger and metoclopramide on the treatment of pregnancy nausea. Pak.J.Biol.Sci. 8-15-2011;14(16):817-820. View Abstract
  12. Pillai, A. K., Sharma, K. K., Gupta, Y. K., and Bakhshi, S. Anti-emetic effect of ginger powder versus placebo as an add-on therapy in children and young adults receiving high emetogenic chemotherapy. Pediatr.Blood Cancer 2011;56(2):234-238. View Abstract
  13. Ryan, J. L., Heckler, C. E., Roscoe, J. A., Dakhil, S. R., Kirshner, J., Flynn, P. J., Hickok, J. T., and Morrow, G. R. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces acute chemotherapy-induced nausea: a URCC CCOP study of 576 patients. Support.Care Cancer 2012;20(7):1479-1489. View Abstract
  14. Zahmatkash, M. and Vafaeenasab, M. R. Comparing analgesic effects of a topical herbal mixed medicine with salicylate in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Pak.J.Biol.Sci. 7-1-2011;14(13):715-719. View Abstract
  15. Zick, S. M., Turgeon, D. K., Vareed, S. K., Ruffin, M. T., Litzinger, A. J., Wright, B. D., Alrawi, S., Normolle, D. P., Djuric, Z., and Brenner, D. E. Phase II study of the effects of ginger root extract on eicosanoids in colon mucosa in people at normal risk for colorectal cancer. Cancer Prev.Res.(Phila) 2011;4(11):1929-1937. View Abstract